Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor #1
Written by: Andrew Cartmel, Richard Dinnick
Art by: Christopher Jones, Jessica Martin
Colors by: Marko Lesko, Charlie Kirschoff
Lettering by: Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
Published by: Titan Comics
A review by Stacy Dooks
My first introduction to Doctor Who came in the form of Tom Baker, whose serials I watched with my uncle whenever my family visited with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. The classic serials were run on PBS in Boston, and I remember sitting down with absolutely no idea what was happening save that the blue box was bigger on the inside, that guy’s scarf was huge, and the robot dog was awesome.
Curiosity led me to watch more and over time I became better acquainted with the Doctor and his world. As much as I liked Tom Baker in the role however, I didn’t really see him as ‘my’ Doctor. He was the Doctor of my uncle’s generation, and as I became a teenager I found my personal version of the Time Lord in the form of Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor.
By 1987, the producers of Doctor Who felt a lot of the mystery behind the character had been explained, and decided to muddy the waters a little by hinting that perhaps what we knew about the Doctor wasn’t quite the whole truth. As a result, the Seventh Doctor became much more mysterious and nebulous a figure, one who played a cosmic chess match against evil in the universe and sometimes treated his companions less as partners and more as pawns. Enter Ace, a juvenile delinquent from 1980s Earth played by Sophie Aldred. Ace had a penchant for high explosives, a chip on her shoulder, and has gone down in Whovian legend as the first person to beat the snot out of a Dalek with a (admittedly Time Lord enhanced) baseball bat. She was a new companion for a new era, one who was self-confident but vulnerable, together but still finding herself. The pair made for a great team and endured long after the television series went on hiatus in the form of the New Adventures novels published by Virgin. Later, Big Finish audio would pair McCoy and Sophie Aldred for a new series of audio escapades, and now Titan Comics has brought the characters back in a new comics incarnation. So how’d it go? Let’s dig into Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor #1 and find out together, shall we?
Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor #1 is actually broken down into two separate stories, which are the beginnings of new three -part serials. It’s a nice callback to the format of Classic Who. Operation Volcano tells the tale of the Doctor being called in to investigate an unusual situation in the Australian outback in 1967. . .and of the fallout of that investigation in 2029. How does a crashed alien ship in the late 1960s end up on orbit in the 2020s? What secrets does the desert hold, and what exactly do certain members of the expedition sent to investigate have to hide? Not everyone is who. . .or even what they appear to be. The other story, Hill of Beans, features our heroes invited to the one millionth performance of the Psychic Circus, where they encounter old friends and face an authoritarian regime cracking down not only on the circus but the people of the planet Vulpana. Can the Doctor help, or is this truly the final curtain?
The comic does a great job evoking the mood of the classic series, which isn’t all that hard when you have long time Doctor Who writers like Andrew Cartmel at the helm. The stories are fairly self-contained, but sharp-eyed readers will note the presence of characters from previous episodes (I won’t spoil which ones, but needless to say I grinned quite a bit). The art by Christopher Jones is great while the art by Jessica Martin. . .is not so much. Mind you, it’s nice to have an actor from classic era Doctor Who contributing, but the overall style didn’t work for me.
Buy It! Whether you’re a long-time fan like myself or a relative newcomer Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor #1 has a lot going for it: great art, intriguing writing, and an old-school feel. If you’re a NuWho fan who wants to get in on the ground floor with one of the Classic Doctors, here’s a great opportunity. Recommended.