Click here to return to the main site.

Comic Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
The Eleventh Doctor #6


Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Simon Fraser
Colourist: Gary Caldwell
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: UK £2.65, US $3.99
Age: 12+
32 pages
Publication Date: 24 December 2014

Reverse in going is TARDIS the inside time that realises Doctor the when strikes terror! “Time can’t run backwards. It’ll destroy us… It’ll destroy everything.” The Doctor knows that life must move forward, even if we cannot see how that is possible at the worst moments. No matter how much it hurts, it has to. He is the only one who is aware that the flow of time in the vortex has been disrupted – but will he be able to uncover the cosmic culprit and put causality back on its correct course before Alice and her fellow TARDIS travellers are wiped right out of existence? “I can’t believe he’s dead. It’s all too much to handle…”

Some of the most inventive and memorable Doctor Who comic strips have been built around the concept of time flowing backwards. The innovative First Doctor story In Reverse (TV Comic, 1965) stands out as one of the most intelligent Who strips of the 1960s, while Timeslip (Doctor Who Weekly, 1980) was the first comic-strip story to feature Doctors other than the then-current one, the Fourth.

Just like In Reverse, this issue, entitled Space in Dimension Relative and Time, begins at the end and ends at the beginning. The first page is marked “THE END” and the subsequent page numbers count down from 21. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that. In fact, it’s a lot more complicated than that! We don’t merely see the TARDIS crew experiencing events in reverse. Alice, Jones and the new alien companion ARC are also affected by the temporal phenomenon. Only the Doctor is able to sense that something is wrong and is soon perceiving events through a “secondary ‘backwards’ consciousness”, as he describes it in a characteristic bit of jargon.

Therefore, you cannot simply read this issue in reverse order to experience the ‘true’ chronology, because the Time Lord’s perceptions and dialogue run counter to that. As the story unfolds, he gains more insight and is actually able to shape events. In true Eleventh Doctor style, he cheats, in a similarly light-hearted fashion to that seen in The Big Bang. He manages to bend the rules of time without actually breaking them or the philosophy he outlines to Alice at the beginning/end of this issue. Along the way, his attitude towards the fate of his companions and even his TARDIS may seem extremely callous, but ultimately it’s all for the greater good.

Much of the above (and what follows) won’t make much sense to you if you haven’t read the issue, but that’s OK, because you can re-read my review after you have read the strip and gain a new insight – just as I did by re-reading the strip! In fact, I have read it roughly three times so far. Why “roughly”, you may ask – what can be so approximate about that? Well, I read the issue first in published page order. Then I read it mostly backwards, though I still read pages 04–03 and 12–11 in their published sequence because there are no time-jumps between these pages. Then I did a sort of half read, taking in just the Doctor’s backwards consciousness. Then a reverse half read, taking in all the events apart from the Doctor’s backwards experience. That makes about three reads in total – this issue is a gift that keeps on giving!

Writer Rob Williams helps to keep any confusion to a minimum by featuring an old enemy rather than establishing a new one. I won’t say which old enemy it is, though it is one that hasn’t appeared very often. One might argue that it is a very obscure monster to bring back, though it is one that was mentioned during the Eleventh Doctor’s era, so it is a fitting inclusion. I certainly enjoyed it.

However, a few aspects of this issue don’t stand up to close scrutiny, or demand further explanation. The front cover, though extremely eye-catching, promises a spatial paradox rather than a temporal one. The TARDIS doors seem to be open on page 21, despite the sound of them closing with a “THOOM”. Alice seems to change location between pages 15 and 14 when she shouldn’t. (We might attribute this to the damaging effects of reversed time upon the TARDIS’s structure.) On page 06, Alice says she is in her thirties, though last issue she claimed to be forty. (Perhaps she was rounding up or down to suit the occasion and she is really in her late thirties.) And finally, what became of the Doctor with the vortex manipulator? (Did he return to his own, now altered, future? Did he fade away, Back to the Future style, once time was restored?)

On the whole, though, there’s a lot to love about this issue, which includes many dramatic moments and exciting visuals. The most darned cool page of the strip, possibly of the entire series to date? That would have to be page 05 – wow! See also the opening/closing page, as well as pages 19, 18, 15, 08 and 07.

Perhaps appropriately, I shall now return to the beginning of my review, and make it my ending. Some of the most inventive and memorable Doctor Who comic strips have been built around the concept of time flowing backwards – and this one is no exception.


Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.