I’ll admit it, I was skeptical about the idea of the “Eternal Dogfight” that the teaser pages showed for issue #7 of the Eleventh Doctor Adventures. In retrospect, I have no idea why, since I bought into the Orient Express in space, but there you have it. WWII era planes flying through space just seemed a little odd (and possibly an excuse to draw the Doctor wearing an aviator cap and goggles, because let’s face it, if there’s an incarnation of the Doctor that would do that, it’s Eleven). I needn’t have worried, and you shouldn’t have, either. Rob Williams has a plan, and although this is only the first issue of the story arc, I can tell that it’s an interesting plan, and more importantly to me, a fun plan. At least it’s fun at this point; it’s Doctor Who after all, and everything could go completely tragic for our heroes in the next issue.
Basically the upshot of issue #7 is that two races, the Amstrons and the J’Arrodics have been at war longer than anyone can remember, even the Time Lords—a little weird for a race that can see all of history, but I’m going with it. Their planets are long gone casualties of the world, and now they travel through the universe in a peripatetic war. And while they’ll cheerfully wipe out the enemy, they are oddly polite when it comes to the residents of the solar systems they’re traveling through, assuring them that the war will be on its way shortly. Enter the Doctor, who can’t resist finding a way to end an endless conflict, and Companions ARC (the alien whose origins they’re still not sure of) and Jones (although he’s looking distinctly un-rockstar-like as he eats his feelings of fear). Alice has some business to take care of at home while the boys head into space, and she gets a very interesting visitor in their absence. I’ll leave it there, except to say that issue #7 leaves everyone on the brink of some major changes.
I will read virtually any Who story and am a particular fan of the serial format (I have the horrible fanfic history on my browser to prove it). It’s a rare thing to find a story in that format that knows exactly how to wind you up and where to leave you hanging, something Rob Williams does exceedingly well with this story. I don’t even mind that Alice isn’t present for a large part of the story because Williams has made a basic bookend structure a thing of beauty from the mysterious yet vaguely familiar silhouette in Alice’s kitchen early in the story to a return to the action that leaves me screaming “No, what???” It’s suspense done right. Warren Pleece’s drawings are very good on the whole, although I was a little disappointed in the Amstrons, who looked like vaguely Sontaran-shaped robots. His dogfights combined with Hi-Fi’s vivid colors are great, though, and really show how from a neutral onlooker’s position, war can be beautiful as well as terrible. I know I have a tendency to rate Titan’s Who comics highly, but that’s because I have yet to come across a bad one in the bunch. I’m giving this issue 4.5 out of 5 Lightning Bolts.
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DOCTOR WHO: THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR #7
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Warren Pleece
Letterers: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Release Date: January 21, 2015