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Comic Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
The Tenth Doctor #4


Writer: Nick Abadzis
Artist: Elena Casagrande
Colourist: Arianna Florean
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: US $3.99
Age: 12+
32 pages
Publication Date: 05 November 2014

In exchange for the invaluable assistance she offered defending New York – and to say sorry for dropping into her life like a tornado! – the Doctor has promised Gabby one trip – just one trip! – in the TARDIS. With the whole universe laid before her, all of time and space, where will Gabriella Gonzalez choose to go? What will they find when they get there… and can one trip in the TARDIS ever be enough? More importantly, the Tenth Doctor has been hurt by the fate of his companions before – and recently. With Donna still fresh in his mind, can Gabby convince him that he shouldn’t travel alone, for just a little while longer…?

This issue kicks off a new serial storyline, The Arts in Space. It’s a play on the title of the Tom Baker serial The Ark in Space (writer Nick Abadzis evidently likes puns), though to a British reader it does sound uncomfortably close to The Arse in Space! That shouldn’t trouble American customers, who say “ass” rather than “arse”. But I digress!

Aside from the title, there’s a lot to like in this instalment. There’s a real sense of Gabriella’s wonderment as she embarks upon her first trip to an alien planet, and for the first time in Titan’s Tenth Doctor series we are treated to visuals that are probably beyond what could realistically be achieved on the television series. There are sky aqueducts (water courses suspended in mid-air), flying seahorses, space elevators, and other weird structural details that are not named – and which remain all the more mysterious as a result.

We feel that much closer to Gabby thanks to the inclusion of amusing and delightfully cute cartoons by the budding young artist herself, addressed to her friend Cindy within the context of the story, and rendered by colourist Arianna Florean in real life (while the rest of the strip is provided by regular artist Elena Casagrande). More than any previous issue in this series, #4 really makes use of its medium. “I ♥ comics!” says the Doctor enthusiastically in one panel. Yeah – so do I, when they’re like this! The journal of Gabby’s visit to the Gallery of Ouloumos also includes a cameo appearance by some familiar Doctor Who aliens and a reference to one of my favourite stories, Logopolis.

After the first few pages, the artistic style of the strip and the architectural features of Ouloumos become more conventional, with Earth-type doors, windows, an office, a castle, etc. However, things get strange in another way, as some modern art and a decidedly creepy apprentice defy the laws of physics and become very dangerous indeed…

This series feels as though it has now hit its stride. The Time Lord only agreed to take Gabby on one trip – but then he said that to Martha Jones, didn’t he? Hopefully their adventures are only just beginning…


Richard McGinlay

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