Review: Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #1

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #1 is a promising characterization of the polarizing Ninth Doctor that is stymied by art that assaults the senses. From what I can tell, the writers of these various series are doing a great job capturing the personality of each Doctor.  Nine is no exception: only one issue in and his ironically violent aversion to... well, violence, is in full effect, with Jack serving as the perfect foil to this effect.  That said, sometimes I feel like the characterization is a little too on-the-nose.  The fact that I get a panel of Nine finger-waving and scolding Jack is just too easy.  I like that the comic is true to the character, but don't gift-wrap it for me: build that stuff up a little more, make the reader do some work.

In terms of the broader plot, I imagine that a lot of readers, like me, will be put off by the typical science fiction morally ambiguous robot bad guys.  "Are they friends or foes?  Aw, shucks: who knows!"  It doesn't really leave the Doctor a lot of room to do his Doctor thing, and largely serves as a mechanism by which Jack can act like an asshole and the Doctor can respond with finger-waving.  I do, however, have a feeling that much of this issue was merely a setup for a more Who-esque plot, so I'm not too down on the awkwardly generic feel that this plot setup had.

Doctor Who The Ninth Doctor #1 2-3-15What I am down on is the art: there's just too much going on.  I love the panels where the scene is reduced to color flats picking out the important players in a particular scene.  But these panels feel more like a break from the clusterfuck of lighting and color occurring all around them, and less like a successful story beat of contrast.  The problem is, I think, that Shedd has opted for the nearly photographic style of depicting the human characters in the story, and that level of detail seems confused when it is mixed with backgrounds and effects that lack a similar level of rigor.  Big, block-letter SFX look kitsch placed next to the details of the sonic screwdriver, or when juxtaposed across from killer robots.

There are still plenty of gorgeous panels where the colors (even the lighting) and details come together and depict awesome alien fights, or the tragically serene grace of a bunch of asteroids that were once a planet.  And there are some panels where the color work ought to be schizophrenic since it depicts robots and aliens and explosions and space and... you get the point.  But there are still all-too-many moments where I'm not sure what kind of feel this book is going for, and when the different styles clash, it comes across a little cheesy.

In short, nothing about this book grabbed me, at least not in a positive way.  The only reason that I would come back is for my love of Nine, Rose, and Jack, and that's a reason I would have even if the book was worse than this one.  It's not a crime for something not to be excellent, but if the most special part of the story is the brand you licensed in order to write it, what reason is there to buy it?

Score: 2/5

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #1 (of 8) Writer: Cavan Scott Artist: Blair Shedd Publisher: Titan Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/1/15 Format:  Mini-Series, Print/Digital