Diverse Companions, Doctors You Might Miss; Catching Up on Titan's new Doctor Who Comics
This week, Titan Comics releases a new issue for Doctor Who comics line, which, in October will notably feature the first ongoing comic book starring the new 12th Doctor. (Still feels weird calling him that!) But, for fans who are still missing both David Tennant and Matt Smith, Titan is also running two different series starring the 10th and 11th Doctors respectively. And both of these titles are worth picking up, because even if you don’t miss Tennant and Smith that much, these comics are doing something the show sometimes forgets to: crank up the diversity.
The ongoing 10th Doctor story line from Titan re-launched last month and takes place just after the events of “Journey’s End,” but before all those solo-10th Doctor adventures. Written by Nick Abadzis, this series sees the Doctor showing up in contemporary New York City, specifically in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Here, the action primarily follows Gabriella, a young Mexican-American woman helping her family make ends meet by working in both a restaurant and in a Laundromat. The Mexican “Day of the Dead,” holiday is rapidly approaching, but strange happenings and odd doppelganger-esque monsters have been lurking around. The Doctor only shows up a few times, and in each appearance, Tennant’s voice pops right off the page and back into our hearts. Has it really been four years since he left the role? The art by Elena Casagrande, Michele Pasta, and Arianna Florean is solid, and the 10th Doctor totally looks like himself. Making a heroic appearance in the last pages of the issue, he tells Gabriella to “take his hand,” as a giant monster charges her on the New York City subway.
Meanwhile, the ongoing 11th Doctor series is set just after Matt Smith’s first season, picking up right after he leaves Amy Pond’s wedding. Like the 10th Doctor story, this one follows the story of someone else, as thirty-something black woman named Alice, living in the UK, facing the death of her mother and super-serious financial problems. The opening pages of the story is told in black and white, until full color hits upon the arrival of the Doctor. There’s a giant, fun-loving creature called a “Joy Dog,” running around London, which the Doctor explains is designed to eat up sadness. It seems bent on taking some of Alice’s away, and the Doctor tries to cheer her up, too. He takes her into the TARIDS, and the two hang out by the swimming pool. As with the 10th Doctor title, the writing from Al Ewing and Rob Williams evokes the voice of the 11th Doctor so well, you’d think this was an adaptation of a TV episode you actually missed. There’s a highly specific way Smith’s Doctor had of talking to himself in goofy asides, and the writing here conveys that expertly. The art by Simon Fraser and Gary Caldwell is a little more stylized than the 10th Doctor title, but it’s not intrusive at all and the rainbow Joy Dog is more than welcoming. This one seems to present the possibility of being a prequel to the “Day of the Doctor,” too, insofar as the Doctor briefly sees a vision of someone from his home planet Gallifrey, while he’s supposed to be chasing the Joy Dog.
Both of these titles are impressive in similar ways. Initially, both present a realistic story from the viewpoint of an average person dealing with extremely realistic problems. True, Rose Tyler worked in a shop to make ends meet, and Donna Noble worked as a temp, but the companions of Gabriella and Alice feel real-world poor. These characters are literally scrapping together what little they have to get by. These are the sorts of people who could use a great adventure. It’s also nice that they’re both not white. The Doctor is theoretically one of the most egalitarian science fiction characters around, and in both time periods these issues are writing him in, he’s mostly asexual. This means the relationships with both Gabriella and Alice seem to be out of his normal kindness and over-the-top-friendliness. Neither situation seems contrived, and other than the cost of shooting in Brooklyn, or the giant spectacle of the Joy Dog, it makes you wonder why the actual TV show never attempted these kinds of stories before.
The new Doctor Who on TV is taking risks with a new guy, and new storylines. Meanwhile, Titan comics is taking chances with our previous beloved Doctors and diverse, realistic characters. Whether your prefer Allons-y or Geronimo, pick up these books right now.
What diverse storyline would you like to see the 12th Doctor get into?