Reviewed: Titan Comics’ Tenth Doctor #2.9

I challenge anyone who claims not to be drawn in by Elena Casagrande’s wonderfully evocative cover for Titan Comics’ Tenth Doctor #2.9. It’s a beautiful composition, a black schism with screaming faces opening up behind the statuesque figure of David Tennant’s Doctor. Its angular and reminiscent of Matthew Dow Smith’s work – who actually illustrated some of IDW’s Doctor Who comics – with deep recesses and great muted colours.

Fittingly, it’s a good contrast to Iolanda Zanfardino’s interior art, which feels very fluid.

This second part of The Wishing Well Witch is about contrasts, with writer, Nick Abadzis mixing the spooky with the stunning. The titular witch is far more complicated than just an alien presence: it’s a gestalt of minds, reaching out in despair, but its true nature is yet to be explored. There’s chaos as it makes its way through the typically-sleepy English town of Dewbury, but Nick is able to find calm amid the storm. Similarly, the ending is peaceful but foreboding.

Promising (and delivering) something akin to Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, this comic might’ve seemed like a straight-forward tale, but the rug is still pulled from underneath you. What seemed like a one-off story that has little bearing on the overall title’s arc suddenly feels very important.

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To reveal exactly what moment that is would ruin the surprise, but suffice to say, it hits the Doctor hard. It doesn’t immediately tie into any already-established unresolved storylines, but you do get the feeling Anubis, who’s loomed over this Tenth Doctor comic since last year, is somehow involved.

The fact that the precise circumstances of how the wishing well witch came to be aren’t fully revealed could’ve made for an anti-climax, but its fortunately intriguing enough to make for a satisfying issue.

Zanfardino’s pages help this too. Although her style here feels more inspired by manga than previous artists on the title, she nonetheless depicts precisely what a reader needs to see – which is a considerable skill. Too often, artists fill a page to bursting and you can get distracted and the drama lessened; while you admire the dedication, knowing where to simplify a page shows considerable talent. Iolanda gets this. As such, her layouts can seem a little on the sparse side, but it means you can focus solely on the events unfolding.

Oddly enough, her Tenth Doctor is less realistic than her depictions of his companions, Cindy and Gabby, as well as her Assassin’s Creed: Trial by Fire art. Still, she encapsulates the story’s mood impeccably, aided by Hi-Fi’s colours. Special mention should go to the final page, a wonderfully rendered piece in which Gabby and Cindy follow a downtrodden Time Lord into his space-time ship.

So that was Cindy’s first proper trip in the TARDIS, and it’s not been a smooth ride. Let’s hope she’s not been put off, though – the dynamic between her, Gabby, and the Doctor is still finding its feet, but is certainly promising, and makes Titan Comics’ Tenth Doctor a thoroughly-enjoyable read.

The Tenth Doctor #2.9 is out now, priced $3.99.