I was fanatically enthusiastic about Ninth Doctor issues #1 and #2 and was very excited to pick up issue #3 of the Titan miniseries. More time with the Ninth Doctor, Captain Jack Harkness, and Rose Tyler? I’m here for it. I’m going to be honest, though, Issue #3 didn’t give me the thrill I was expecting from it. This isn’t to say it was bad, not by any means, just that it lacked a little of the sparkle of the first two issues.
Let’s start with the good: Cavan Scott has once again nailed the characters to perfection. Jack is flirty and into the tech. The Doctor is a quick talker, quicker thinker, and all too easily tipped into a guilt spiral. And Rose is fiercely protective of her travel mates, particularly the Doctor. And, as I’ve come to expect from all Titan Doctor Who comics, Scott has written a hell of a cliffhanger. Blair Shedd has done some gorgeous artwork in this issue–at the risk of spoiling a little, I particularly liked the scene of the Eighth Doctor, War Doctor, and Ninth Doctor with the barn from “The Day of the Doctor,” just because it was so beautiful (and, dare I hope, is hinting a little at what we can see in the upcoming Four Doctors miniseries?) I also enjoyed the page of Jack’s vortex manipulator leap into the TARDIS and ensuing temporal loop, because it really captured a feeling of movement and timey-wimeyness (sorry, War Doctor, I had to say it). I’m going to admit that I just enjoyed Shedd’s depiction of Jack Harkness in general. I can’t remember the last time I looked at a comic book page and thought “I’d hit that” like I did at the panel of Jack posing in the TARDIS door. Well done, Blair Shedd.
Now, for the not-as-good (because there is no “bad” here, only “gripping” and “less gripping”). This issue has fallen prey to something I’ve seen a fair amount from middle issues: it’s kind of treading water between the set-up and the finale. We’ve got a great premise (interstellar war), a fun setting (an arms dealers’ bazaar), and great characters. But this issue doesn’t give us anything to really dig into–even the reveal of the Unon “Mother Superior” falls a little flat because we have nothing to really hook it into. The Unon are certainly dangerous, since we’ve seen them kill countless Lects, but they’re also a little My Little Pony-esque; the Doctor even refers to one as “Champion the Wonder Horse.” I just don’t know where this issue is going, and I’m not sure how it’s going to propel us into the finale, other than Rose setting new records for jeopardy-friendly. It’s not the springboard I would have liked from an issue #3.
I know this might come off as complaining, but I’m really not. The issue didn’t let me down entirely, it just didn’t give me everything I’d hoped for when our time with one of my favorite Doctors is so short. I have faith that Cavan Scott, who is a veteran in the Whoniverse, and Blair Shedd are going to give Nine a spectacular send-off with issue #4. I just wanted a little more from this issue. Ninth Doctor #3 gets 3.5 out of 5 Lightning Bolts.
DOCTOR WHO: THE NINTH DOCTOR #3
Writer: Cavan Scott
Art/Color Finishes: Blair Shedd with Rachael Stott
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Colors: Anang Setyawan
Publisher: Titan Comics
Release Date: July 29, 2015