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Graphic Novel Review


Book Cover

Doctor Who
The Eleventh Doctor #3

 

Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Simon Fraser
Colourist: Gary Caldwell
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: US $3.99
Age: 12+
32 pages
Publication Date: 01 October 2014


There’s a devil out on the bayou, or so they say… Something stalking bluesmen through the swamps of Mississippi, offering them talent beyond imagining, worlds at their feet – in exchange for their souls! When Alice asks the Doctor if they can visit one of her late mother’s musical heroes, she’s initially disappointed. Can John Jones, a forgettable singer whose only skill seems to be that of disappearing in a crowded room, really be the colossal talent who brought passion, creativity and meaning to her mother’s life? And what does he have to do with the nightmarish deals taking place in the dead of night…?

Mimicking the pattern of several recent seasons of television Doctor Who (the Russell T Davies years rather more than the Steven Moffat era), following a couple of relatively light episodes, things get darker in this issue. I mean that quite literally. After the bright colours of the rainbow dog in #1 and the Rokhandi theme park in #2, the colour scheme in this issue is dominated by muted blues and browns, with most of the events taking place at night. The light from torches and alien energy stand out piercingly bright in contrast. Kudos to colourist Gary Caldwell. This issue’s pre-credits sequence is particularly effective: sinister and mysterious, and throwing forward to a dramatic event from later in the story.

Meanwhile, providing some much-needed humour is John Jones, a chameleonic pop icon who is clearly based upon David Bowie. However, it would appear that Jones has yet to find his mojo, because when the Doctor and Alice attend his first-ever gig in 1962, they find the artist completely lacking in charisma and stage presence. In fact, he is so unremarkable that he manages to follow the Doctor and Alice into the TARDIS in 1962 and travel with them to 1931 Mississippi without either of them noticing!

The strip also features a real performer, whose presence ties in well with the subject matter of the story – Robert Johnson, a 1930s blues singer and musician who, according to legend, made a Faustian pact in order to achieve success.

The scrambled sequence of events presented in this episode disguises the fact that the story’s resolution is actually quite perfunctory, and it does feel a little rushed. For the most part, though, this is a thrilling little adventure. Building up plot strands from both of the previous issues, writer Rob Williams and artist Simon Fraser continue to serve us well (that’s a clue to one of the strands, by the way)...

8

Richard McGinlay

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