There’s a wonderful little moment in the Ninth Doctor comic, The Cruel Sea – not a Titan release but part of Doctor Who Magazine back in 2005. Rose is consumedby a melancholic mirror world and we see her turn down the Doctor’s initial offer to travel in the TARDIS. The “did I mention it also travels in time?” scene is then delayed until it’s too late, and the Doctor instead decides to swan off with her daughter.
Written by Rob Shearman, it’s one of my favourite sequences in a DWM strip ever. And in this 7th issue of the Eleventh Doctor comics’ “Year Two”, we see a similar thing happen to Alice Obiefune.
Why is it so effective? Firstly, I’ve a fascination with parallel universes (not especially alternative version of the Doctor, but scientifically speaking. Plus you can’t deny how great Inferno is), so this is a tantalising glimpse into what never was; and secondly, I think it ties into the story of Donna Noble. When she lost her memory in Journey’s End, she lost a big part of herself. We know how fantastic she could be, given the opportunities. It’s all about potential, and companions missing their chance to be something better is an interesting prospect.
It’s also good to have the spotlight turning once again to Alice, the Doctor’s regular companion in the series, even if it’s only briefly. With River Song, Abslom Daak, and The Squire (the companion no one can remember) on board the TARDIS, it must be hard to give all equal attention; whereas issue 6 didn’t juggle it quite well enough, this comic gets it right.
That’s not the only thing The Eleventh Doctor #2.7 does right. In fact, the checklist is very long.
After the shock cliffhanger last time, this issue could’ve been mental. But writer, Rob Williams is smarter than that. Instead of having the mayhem of the temporal mercenary, The Then And The Now versus the security systems of the most dangerous place in the universe, we get intimate character moments. It’s actually much more satisfying.
While each of the Doctor’s entourage have their time to shine – Daak in his childish glee over violence, and River, as ever, with her quick wit and charm – issue 7 arguably belongs to the Squire, a character whose potential hasn’t particularly been explored until now, and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come from her. In fact, the Doctor’s plan revolves around her being an anomaly.
The others, meanwhile, are forced to relive their pasts, and in one lovely page, we see Abslom thinking of his deceased wife, Alice remembering the people she’s left behind, and the Doctor turning to his former companions: Romana, Sarah Jane, and Amy and Rory, cradling the little girl who becomes –
River. She’s thinking of her Doctor, and I do wonder where in her timeline this story takes place. Are they sort-of-married yet? Have they even shared their first/last kiss? (If these stories still take place while the Ponds are on honeymoon, seeing the with a baby is a bit of a spoiler for the Doctor, isn’t it?)
I must mention Leandro Casco’s art: while I’m warming to Simon Fraser’s take on the Doctor (but not his River, sadly), Casco comes as a breath of fresh air. He captures the Time Lord well, whatever the face he’s wearing, and in some instances, you can tell which TV stills he’s based his panels on. It’s bright, simple, and very stylised, but it works beautifully. He even gets to draw a classic Doctor Who enemy.
That leads nicely into an understated cliffhanger, a somewhat-predictable twist that nonetheless leaves us with lots of questions. The series is proving to be unmissable.
This issue is brave and surprisingly calm, immensely satisfying and wonderfully told – in fact, it’s probably my favourite Eleventh Doctor issue so far.
The Eleventh Doctor #2.7 is out now, priced $3.99.