If you’re a comic book aficionado, you’ll know that IDW recently relinquished the Doctor Who license to Titan after six years of Doctors Ten and Eleven. Titan obviously realise how popular David Tennant and Matt Smith’s incarnations of the Time Lord are and so here we are, with two new ongoings, followed later in the year by adventures with the Twelfth Doctor.
I’m sure both will sell well. But are they any good…?
It’s an absolute joy to tuck into a new Eleventh Doctor story – and especially one so fitting for the era.
Parallels can be made between this and The Rings of Akhaten, The Snowmen, and The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, but it really is just a unique story that showcases the best of Matt Smith’s Time Lord.
Everything starts off very grey. It’s wonderful to see a comic play with colour so effectively. It perfectly complements the main ‘monster’ of the piece, a Rainbow Dog, and the Eleventh Doctor’s infectiously upbeat personality. But this is a story told in shades: it frequently touches upon darkness, yet it’s all balanced out by great slabs of bright fun.
The Doctor’s “I don’t keep pets. I make friends” will be echoed in the hearts of the majority of readers.
Very early on, there’s a truly shocking moment (that culminates in an exceptional cliffhanger) but it’s bookended by trademark humour – namely, the Doctor running into a lamppost. The clumsiness isn’t the only great bit of characterisation. In fact, the Eleventh Doctor is pitch-perfect.
A simple line, after such lightness, sums up this incarnation: “You seemed sad.” Understated; beautiful; very Eleventh Doctor.
A big thank you to writers, Al Ewing and Rob Williams, for giving us the bow-tie-wearing alien on the page, exactly as he appears on-screen.
The one thing I’m not too convinced about is the art. Simon Fraser’s work is just as divisive as Elena Casagrande’s (on The Tenth Doctor #01). At times, it appears too flat, sketchy and Beano-esque (admittedly, I do love The Beano); elsewhere, it’s atmospheric, touchingly simple and smart.
Still, it remains very aesthetically pleasing. I’ve always wanted to see the TARDIS materialise in the middle of a lounge while people are watching TV. On top of that, the new companion’s entrance into the Time-Space Ship is really fun and memorable. Kudos especially for making Alice Obiefune so human. Her facial expressions are just superb and she really jumps off the page.
I can see why the Doctor likes her and takes her into time and space – and this reader gets the feeling he has an ulterior motive too.
This is full of great moments: one particular character is portrayed as a scared buffoon, which is sure to please many, while the Doctor’s “I don’t keep pets. I make friends” will be echoed in the hearts of the majority of readers. Nonetheless, After Life, a one-part introduction to the world of Titan Comics’ Doctor Who range, is a well-told story and is really hard to fault as a narrative. Combined with two funny one-page strips at the end, The Eleventh Doctor #01 is a triumph.
There’s very little else to say: just buy it.