Reviewed: Titan Comics’ Tenth Doctor #2.11

Music seems to be an unlikely but successful theme in Titan Comics’ Tenth Doctor title. As writer, Nick Abadzis revealed to The Doctor Who Companion in our exclusive interview, it was inspired by the idea of the Doctor’s song ending soon, as established in Planet of the Ood. Nick went on to explain that he listened to music while writing:

“Music is very important to me – always has been. Many of my close friends are musicians, although I don’t know what bearing that has on me and the way I create stories… I can’t listen to any music with human voices in it while I write though, as then I tend to get sidetracked and listen to lyrics, so I write only to instrumental music: mostly soundtracks, but some classical, jazz and ambient too.”

Nonetheless, it’s an unusual choice. Creatures made of sound, for instance, are a natural fit for audio – hence Whispers of Terror, a brilliant Sixth Doctor tale from Big Finish. Their effectiveness might not translate to comics, a medium that’s obviously synonymous with dialogue and art.

That makes The Tenth Doctor #2.11 a brave issue, and one that’s surprisingly effective.

The Doctor has taken his companions, Gabby Gonzalez and Cindy Wu to New Orleans in the 1920s, a period known as “The Jazz Age”. It immediately conjures up images of fun, frivolity, and class. Indeed, they seems to be having a great time – aside from the Doctor, who’s been busying himself with the TARDIS for their stay, and is troubled by the idea of songs ending…

The Jazz Monster calls back to David Tennant’s final year as the Time Lord, and picks up on the musical theme, which wasn’t properly developed on screen. You could argue that the angst established in The Waters of Mars didn’t have enough time to expand naturally before his regeneration, so it’s nice to see it picked up here. With his life seemingly encompasses by songs, he must’ve felt particularly edgy, just waiting for those four knocks to herald his demise.

Still, this is the Doctor, so there’s plenty of levity (and Abadzis’ dialogue is once again spot-on). He’s not embraced his surroundings as well as Gabby and Cindy; then again, he’s never really been one for holidays. We catch up with them after two weeks blending into New Orleans, a brief time-jump that reminded this reader of The Romans. And we all know how doomed that holiday was.

Cindy is especially enjoying the break, having fallen in love with a young musician, Roscoe Ruskin, who is soon embroiled in the emergence of a “Jazz Monster”, a being made of (in the words of the Doctor) “vibrations… Tiny oscillations in quantum foam”. If you’ve been keeping up to date with the title, that should, uhm, sound familiar.

It would appear that the Nocturnes are back. The Doctor and Gabby encountered the aliens on the planet Wupatki right at the start of The Tenth Doctor Year Two, but this time, they’re taking a different form. Or at least one is. It’s pretty reminiscent of the Fendahl, actually – feeding off the energies of the people nearby. It’s a great design by Giorgia Sposito, whose work on this issue as a whole really is sublime. Her Tenth Doctor is a solid likeness, and the whole look of the comic is in keeping with that of regular series artist, Elena Casagrande. This is one excellent creative team.

And that’s why it works so well. Everyone working on this issue just fits. They gel into something especially pleasing to read. The idea of music in comics might seem an initially jarring one, but it’s pulled off so smoothly that you’re just carried along with it. You’ll soon be humming your own jazz composition.

Titan’s Tenth Doctor comic is dancing to its own tune, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable.

The Tenth Doctor #2.11 is out now, priced $3.99.