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Comic Book Review
“Ah-ha! Dewbury, fabled village of bookshops…” “So, not London.” “You missed, didn’t you?” The Doctor, Gabby and Cindy pay a visit to England’s green and pleasant lands during a paranormal literature festival in a small British town. It’s Gabby’s first trip to the UK, as the Doctor shows her and her new fellow TARDIS traveller around his adopted gaff. But all is not as it seems, and a jaunt to the countryside swiftly turns into a gothic horror story, as the gang discover the curse afflicting the town…!
This issue sees the start of a two-part story, The Wishing Well Witch – which is not to be confused with the Tenth Doctor novel Wishing Well or indeed the Eighth Doctor audio drama The Witch from the Well. This comic has more in common with the former, taking place in a present-day English village that comes complete with a doomsaying tramp (who at times looks a bit like the War Doctor), a wishing well containing an alien horror, and an exploration of said well by the Doctor – though on this occasion he goes in the ‘back way’ via a cave entrance rather than lowering himself down on a rope.
“Dewbury’s beaten Stockbridge this year as most paranormal place in England!” boasts one local, referring to a favourite haunt of the Time Lord in Doctor Who Magazine’s comic strip. Accordingly, Nick Abadzis’s script ticks a number of ‘scary story’ boxes. Pagan ritual? Check. Romantic couple coming a cropper while out after dark? Check. Fortune teller channelling more than she bargained for? Check.
That something is amiss in the village is highlighted by some particularly surreal images from artist Eleonora Carlini. She lends distorted expressions and poses to characters including an OCD scribbler (“Something’s missing, something’s missing, missing missing missing”), an anxious vagrant with very bad teeth (you can almost see his bad breath), a moment of unbridled rage from Gabby, and a fearful Cindy.
Resentment is building between the formerly best friends Gabriella Gonzalez and Cindy Wu. New TARDIS passenger Cindy is enjoying being with the Doctor – perhaps too much for Gabby’s liking. Gabriella is used to having the Time Lord to herself. Meanwhile, Cindy takes a dim view of being told by Gabby how best to behave when visiting a new place. “Are you pulling rank on me?” Cindy asks Gabby at one point, “Let’s get this out of the way, then. He invited me. And hey, no need to worry – it’s clear that you are ‘senior friend of the Doctor’.”
With interpersonal conflict, supernatural goings on right from the start, and mention of a name that you might not have been expecting, this storyline is going well.