I entered the Whoniverse with the Ninth Doctor. I caught it on TV late one night ten years ago (I can’t believe it was ten years ago, but “Rose” aired on March 26, 2005 and I came in with “Unquiet Dead”), and I was hooked. Even though Christopher Eccleston was only the Doctor for one season, until Peter Capaldi came on board the TARDIS, the Ninth Doctor was My Doctor (you Whovians know what I mean). Nine with his manic grin and his eyes filled with joy and pain at the same time, fully conveying to newbie Whovians that the Doctor had lived a long, long time and seen things beyond imagination. Even before we knew the details of the Time War, we knew that the Doctor had suffered due to Eccleston’s amazing acting. So of course as a Nine fan I’ve been looking forward to his turn in the Titan Comics spotlight since I heard about it at NYCC.
It’s been a long wait, but issue #1 of the five issue Ninth Doctor miniseries was worth it, Whovians. The front page places this issue between “The Doctor Dances” and “Boom Town,” two of my absolute favorite episodes because of the repartee and camaraderie between Nine, Rose Tyler, and Captain Jack Harkness. If you remember, the ending of “The Doctor Dances” is the beginning of Jack’s time on the TARDIS, but the opening sequence of “Boom Town” shows a tight TARDIS team. I’ve always wondered what happened in between episodes to bond my favorite OT3, and I have a feeling that’s what Cavan Scott and Blair Shedd are going to show us with this story arc.
Scott wastes no time getting us to the heart of the action. Five pages in (including the obligatory full-page TARDIS-in-space spread), the Doctor and his companions predictably find themselves in the middle of a jam, which turns out to be some sort of battle between space centaurs and giant robots. More interesting to me than the baddies, though, are the interactions between the Doctor, Rose, and Jack. Even though they share a TARDIS, these three are by no means all on the same page yet. There are tantalizing hints about the Doctor’s past and the Time War, and ongoing disagreements between Jack and the Doctor over weapons and other issues. This makes total sense—“The Doctor Dances” ended with an abundance of testosterone as the two men competed for Rose’s attention, and it’s clear that they still don’t trust each other’s approach to almost everything. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this develops over the course of the story arc.
Blair Shedd’s artwork for the issue is a fairly realistic comic style interspersed with contrasting, distinctly retro silhouettes. There are a couple of panels where Rose or Jack look a little generic, but on the whole Shedd manages to capture Eccleston without making his distinctive features cartoony, a route that would have been easy to take. Shedd is also excellent at highlighting and shading, which helps bring the characters to life on the page, and his close up of Eccleston’s eye is a thing of beauty. The use of a muted color palette throughout the issue perfectly captures the dark and grungy vibe that epitomized the first season of New Who.
Let’s face it, I would probably enjoy anything that gave me more Nine, Rose, and Jack adventures, but issue #1 of the Ninth Doctor Adventures really is a fun ride that hooked me from the very first page. I would like to see the interplay between the Awesome Threesome tie in a bit more to the storyline about the the Unons and the Lects in future issues, but in the meantime I give issue #1 4 out of 5 Lightning Bolts.
DOCTOR WHO: THE NINTH DOCTOR #1
Writer: Cavan Scott
Artist: Blair Shedd
Letterers: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Color Flats: Jesse Durona
Cover Artist: Alice X. Zhang
Publisher: Titan Comics
Release Date: April 1, 2015
An earlier version of this article erroneously listed Jesse Durona as the colorist for this issue. Blair Shedd in fact did the colors; Durona did the color flats.