I got into Doctor Who during the 2006 series starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. That first episode of the new series, “Rose”, was my first real exposure to The Doctor’s wonderful world(s). It’s unthinkable that it’s been 10 years. Though I’m firmly grounded in “New Who” that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the roots of the series. Through various means, not the least of which is the awesome The Old Doctor Who Show podcast with Dan and Eric, I have discovered and experienced many different Doctors and a lot of great, and some cringe-worthy, episodes.
Of those past Doctors my two favorites have remained William Hartnell and Tom Baker. Something about Hartnell’s performance as the first and Baker’s performance as arguably most modern before 2006 ring so true, come off so genuine, they’re almost impossible not to love. And that love of Baker brings us of course to Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #1 from Titan Comics.
Titan has done a more than admirable job of bringing several of the Doctor’s incarnations to the comic page and up until now they’ve nailed the language and the spirit of each Doctor perfectly. But that was (mostly) the current Doctors. How would they stack up when bringing us such an iconic and recognizable actor? To quote the Ninth Doctor, Fantastic!
The comic feels like a Doctor Who episode, it flows like a an episode and the “performances” of Tom Baker’s Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith are spot on. He’s a touch wacky in his delivery and cadence, even a bit dismissive and amused. She’s inquisitive and level headed, and unflappable. Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby have done a truly great job in bringing these characters to the page.
But when talking comics we can’t leave out the art. Brian Williamson does something interesting in this issue, but I must admit I was a little unsure of how I felt about it on first read. The Doctor looks almost photo-realistic. And it isn’t unnoticeable. All the characters are drawn beautifully, Williamson’s style lends itself perfectly to the Victorian story in this issue. But it was a little off-putting at first to see Tom Baker staring out of the page, staring out in that bug-eyed way only he can. Having him appear so realistic, at first, took me out of the story but as I read on I realized it worked. There’s a level of hyper reality to any of The Doctors they always seem larger than life, a step out of reality, and if this is Williamson’s visual interpretation of that trait then so be it. By the second or third panel it feels normal, now granted The Doctor wasn’t present on more than 12 pages of this 30 page issue so maybe that mitigated the effect, but I don’t think so. I really think it was a bold choice by Williamson that just pays off nicely. Baker’s expressions and features have always been a big part of his performance and the fact that the artist has taken such great pains to recreate that here tell volumes about the dedication that is brought to these titles.
I give Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #1 four out of five stars. Fans of the new, or the classic, Doctors can rejoice, we finally have Baker in a comic! Get to your local comic shop Wednesday March 23rd and pick this one up.
Scroll down to enjoy a few preview pages and a variant cover gallery of issue #1…
DOCTOR WHO: THE FOURTH DOCTOR #1 of 5
Writers: Gordon Rennie & Emma Beeby
Artist: Brian Williamson
Covers: Alice X.Zhang, photo, Brian Williamson, Jay Gunn, Matt Baxter, blank sketch
Publisher: Titan Comics
FC – 32pp – $3.99 – On Sale: March 23
Victorian England. A mysterious woman commands a hidden army in a house of the blind. Scryclops stalk the streets…. and something alien and terrible screams from prehistory – with a hunger that cannot be satisfied! The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith return for an all new adventure: GAZE OF THE MEDUSA!
Issue #1 comes with six covers to collect:
Cover A: Alice X. Zhang – ORDER CODE: DEC151572
Cover B: Photo – ORDER CODE: DEC151573
Cover C: Brian Williamson – ORDER CODE: DEC151574
Cover D: Blank Sketch – ORDER CODE: DEC151575
Cover E: Matt Baxter – ORDER CODE: DEC151576
Cover F: Jay Gunn – ORDER CODE: DEC151577
DOCTOR WHO: THE FOURTH DOCTOR #1 hits comics stores and digital platforms on March 23.