Death surrounds the Doctor. His life is so long that would outlive almost all the friends. When he regenerated into the body of a gangly flailing lunatic, he seemed to put all his past troubles behind him. The Eleventh Doctor was not one for looking back and dwelling on death, which is something Titan Comics’ Eleventh Doctor #3.1 explores.
The Eleventh Doctor began afresh with Year Three, traveling with former librarian, Alice Obiefune. These adventures take place prior to The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon whilst Amy and Rory are back at home (okay, so maybe the Eleventh Doctor sometimes looks back).
This issue is touted as a jumping on point for new readers, which I feel is only half true. As someone who has not read the previous Eleventh Doctor Titan Comics, the issue was a little confusing at times. In the previous story arc, the Doctor travelled with an intergalactic pop star who was basically Space-Bowie. Writer, Rob Williams does a good job having the Doctor and Alice explain who he is, without it seeming like they are talking directly to the reader- although some of the emotional beats did not land for me, having not encountered the character before.
Besides confusing continuity and the least subtle political satire since The Happiness Patrol, the issue examined how the Doctor deals with death. He could go back and see anyone who has died – he has a time machine – but he never does. It is the sort of quiet, sad scene where Matt Smith could say so much with just his facial expressions and the art captures this.
The pace is constantly changing. It begins with a high speed chase in BESSIE (Mark 2)! Then mellows into a contemplative section on the way the Doctor handles death, before jumping into a huge planet-wide mystery. How did a desert planet transform into an arboreal wonderland within a year? The constant movement and inclusion of small quieter moments is very in keeping with the Eleventh Doctor’s era. The TARDIS can move about more in one story than in the entirety of a Classic season.
Art wise, I thought the issue was a mixed bag. I enjoyed I.N.J Culbard’s minimalist style most of the time; the actions sequences are fluid and bold, with very little clutter getting in the way of where your eyes should be focusing. However, the faces of the Doctor and Alice sometimes seemed off. There is one particular panel when Alice is standing sideways and her eye is almost non-existent. Although, on other occasions, the depth of the Eleventh Doctor’s expressions is recreated beautifully. You can really see the pain and confusion on the Doctor’s face when they uncover the big mysterious of the issue.
The comic ends on a brilliant cliffhanger introducing a new enemy that is a novel twist on an old foe. Overall, I liked the issue: its breakneck pace and constant change of scenery made up for some facial expressions that were a bit wonky.
Also, the Doctor says “SQEEEEEE” at one point. I am not sure how I feel about that.