Reviewed: Titan Comics’ Tenth Doctor #2.17

All good things come to an end, and The Tenth Doctor Year Two has been a very good thing indeed. But would it end with a bang or a whimper? Pleasingly, it’s a bit of both.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise; Nick Abadzis’ writing has frequently delivered intimate stories with huge scope, and he does the very same here, in Old Girl: War of the Gods Part 5. While the Doctor is forced to face the omnipotent Sutekh, his companions shield Anubis as best as they can, and have a heart-to-heart at the same time. This little conversation addresses Cindy Wu’s feelings of being in Gabby Gonzalez’s shadow, an underlying theme to Year Two that also cuts at the heart of most TARDIS teams consisting of more than one companion.

The first companion to join the TARDIS inevitably feels more at home with the Doctor and his world(s), while subsequent characters often feel like they have to prove themselves even more. Some feel somewhat detached. But Abadzis has integrated Cindy really well so far, so it’s nice to see her still seeking reassurance from her best friend.

Meanwhile, the Doctor has let the God-like beings betrayed by Sutekh loose. And they want revenge.

If you’re a fan of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, you’re not going to like how a God of Ragnarok fares; these are all mere distractions to the Osiran, giving the Time Lord space to get his own plan together. Naturally, it doesn’t go as smoothly as he’d hoped.

Very little is as expected actually. I figured Anubis would fight back and the “War of Gods” would, in reality, be between Sutekh and his son. Nick obviously has plans for Noobis beyond #2.17, which indicates that he’s playing a longer game than we first realised. That’s something to celebrate, because this title is certainly in safe hands.

Of course, the comic isn’t solely the product of Nick’s: art is provided by Giorgia Sposito, with colours by Arianna Florean. The two work greatly together, with Florean employing a subtle and nuanced palette to complement Sposito’s wonderful art. There’s a lot of story packed into this comic, and lesser creative teams would run the risk of letting this crowd out each page – fortunately, Giorgia keeps a fantastic understanding of composition that adds to the narrative, making it flow easily.

Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt, too, continue the good work, their lettering clear and distinctive.

Again, all strike a balance between the large scale and the small. I’m especially impressed with the minutiae of Sposito’s panels, notably a surprisingly personal exchange between the Doctor and Dorothy while the service robots search for them. The final panel of that page, expressing the Doctor’s guilt, is wonderful.

There’s always going to be a niggle, however, and that comes in this issue’s cover. Drawn by Wellington Diaz, it’s a fine enough drawing, but it does seem at odds with what’s going on inside the comic. Why is Rose Tyler there? What’s the house in the background? While I wouldn’t normally have a problem with covers like this, it’s simply not grand enough for the season finale and feels very disjointed.

Still, it is a minor niggle, especially compared to how enjoyable the story is.

To paraphrase River Song, everybody knows that all good things come to an end. But not every day. Not today. Because Nick Abadzis and co. are back for the continued adventures of the Doctor, Gabby, Cindy, and Anubus with The Tenth Doctor Year Three very soon…

The Tenth Doctor #2.17 is out now, priced $3.99.