If you watch Doctor Who, or have met anyone who does, you know that picking a favorite Doctor is a pretty important part of being a fan. The show’s longevity and pop culture ubiquity owes a lot to the different personalities and quirks each actor brings to the role. Although the new season –featuring a brand new Doctor– is still a month away, fans can get their fix with two new series from Titan Comics, each focusing on one of the two most recent incarnations of the character (another new series based on Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor is due in October). Both series offer new adventures and new companions while capturing the spirit of their respective Doctors.

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These two first issues start much like a new season of the TV show would: by introducing the Doctor’s new companion. The Tenth Doctor, which is set after season 4 of the show,  introduces us to Gabriella Gonzalez, a Mexican-American teenager living in Brooklyn, working two jobs while attending college, and struggling to find her independence from her overbearing family. Gabriella wants something more out of life than working at her father’s restaurant and laundromat, but she feels trapped, so obviously the Doctor is going to whisk her away on incredible adventures in time and space. However, much of the issue, written by Nick Abadzis with art by Elena Casagrande, focuses on Gabriella and her family while fleshing out the relationship between them. Meanwhile, a series of strange, seemingly supernatural occurrences are taking place, and although Halloween happens to be right around the corner, the Doctor will likely find a more scientific (or at least “sci-fi”) explanation.

This approach of focusing on Gabriella and her desire to escape makes sense since the Doctor’s companions have really been the focus of the TV series since it returned in 2005. That said, the Doctor feels like a guest star in his own series since he spends much of the issue wandering around without interacting with the other main character. When he does appear, however, Abadzis captures David Tennant’s fast-paced dialogue perfectly. Again, it makes sense to focus on Gabriella because readers are already familiar with the Doctor, but since we know that the two will eventually meet it feels like the issue is just filling time until the inevitable. This is compounded by the fact that Gabriella and her family seem fairly stereotypical: a bright young woman struggling to find her true calling in life, a workaholic immigrant father, and a religious/superstitious grandmother.

Overall, the first issue feels more like a teaser of a bigger, more satisfying story. That said, Abadzis’s writing is solid, and the dialogue does a nice job establishing the personalities of each character. The art by Casagrande (with colors by Arianna Florean) is fluid and smooth. Like Abadzis’s writing, the art captures the personality of the 10th Doctor as he wanders around, a bit aloof, searching for answers. Although it’s not a fully satisfying issue, it does a nice job hinting at the story to come, and fans of David Tennant’s Doctor will probably enjoy seeing him back in action.

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The Eleventh Doctor, written by Al Ewing and Rob Williams with art by Simon Fraser, is the better of the two introductory issues. Now, in interest of journalistic honesty, I should admit that I much prefer Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor to David Tennant’s version. However, that preference aside, this first issue manages to tell a self-contained story that introduces a new companion, reestablishes the title character and his motivations, and hint at a larger story coming in future issues. In short, it’s a perfect first issue that both fans and Who newbies will enjoy.

Set between seasons 5 and 6, this issue introduces Alice Obiefune, a woman in London whose life is slowly falling apart after her mother’s death. Again, it’s an obvious set-up: someone searching for meaning in a seemingly hopeless situation bumps into the Doctor and eventually teams up with him. However, unlike The Tenth Doctor, Ewing and Williams use this familiar story to explore the character of the Doctor and what makes him unique. This version of the Doctor is a compassionate one who recognizes Alice’s pain and sees an opportunity to help her. The best scene in the issue shows the Doctor simply listening to Alice as she pours her heart out, proving that sometime a sympathetic ear is more powerful than a time machine (yes, I’ll admit that I’m a 32-year-old man who got a little choked up reading a Doctor Who comic). It’s an interesting way of reiterating what makes the Doctor, especially Matt Smith’s version, so interesting: his concern for others is what motivates him, and he’s willing to help anyone anyway he can.

While the issue does tap into the emotional core of the character, it also features a much more playful take on the Doctor as he chases a giant alien “rainbow dog” through London. This allows Fraser to showcase the more slapstick physique and mannerisms of Smith’s Doctor. The artwork, which is a bit “looser” and sketchier than Casagrande’s, captures the emotions of the characters perfectly, and the colors by Gary Caldwell subtly capture the tone of the book as it changes. Despite the lighthearted tone, Ewing and Williams still give a complete, satisfying story that hints at a more serious threat in future issues. They also manage to replicate both the tone and spirit of Smith’s Doctor though his dialogue. The mix of emotional complexity and humor is unsurprising given their other work: Ewing wrote the wickedly satirical Zombo for 2000 A.D. and currently writes Loki: Agent of Asgard for Marvel, while Williams wrote one of the best Superman stories in years (come to think of it, a powerful alien traveling to Earth and helping those is need certainly sounds familiar, doesn’t it?).

For fans of Smith’s Doctor, this is a perfect continuation of his take on the character. It’s also a great introduction to that Doctor for those unfamiliar with the show. In a market increasingly saturated with licensed properties designed to cash in on other popular media, it’s nice to see one TV tie-in that still manages to be a solid, fun comic book.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor & Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor can be purchased at your Local Comic Shop or on Comixology.

Overall Score
85 %

Two fan-favorite Doctors return with new adventures and companions. Both books do a nice job capturing their respective versions of the character, but The Eleventh Doctor is a nearly perfect comic that offers a much more satisfying story.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #1 75%
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #1 95%

About The Author

Paul R Jaissle is a philosopher, collage artist, and musician. In his free time, he enjoys reading comics (especially ones with Batman in them), listening to power pop, and watching wrestling.

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