|DOCTOR WHO: THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR No. 2, September 2014|
Selling 15,947 copies in September 2014, Al Ewing’s script for Issue Two of “Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor” must surely have bemused the vast majority of its audience with its bizarre trip to a world both the Gallifreyan and his (brand) new companion have apparently visited ten years before. Indeed, from the moment August Hart appears and chides the duo for having had him previously demoted to “Chief Security Officer of this… ridiculous little sideshow” the English comic book writer’s ‘wibbly wobbly timey wimey’ narrative becomes all a bit too silly, and even goes as far as to imply that the Timelord will ‘collect’ a second assistant at some point in the future; “Now, where’s the other one?”
Sadly however, even before the appearance of the “classic bully with a bit of sadist thrown in”, the storyline for “The Friendly Place” is struggling to really do anything different from what the television programme has shown before. The premise of an overly friendly ‘holiday camp’ planet within which lurks a dark, “long-buried”, sinister secret has been seen previously in the 1967 serial “The Macra Terror”. Whilst a mental parasite feeding off “the desire… to make trouble”, and thereby pacifying society’s “problem elements” is far too close to the Keller Machine entity depicted in the 1971 transmitted tale “The Mind Of Evil”.
Disconcertingly, even Simon Fraser’s artwork for this “magical vacation” on an “austerity-hit pleasure planet” appears tired and lifeless. Admittedly, the Scottish artist’s initial breakdowns, illustrating the “mysterious” Doctor’s early exploration of the gaudily colourful Rokhandi World, are pleasant enough to the eyes. But his pencilling soon significantly deteriorates once the time travellers have decided to accept “a complimentary Rokhandi Floss” and enter the dimly lit monster’s lair. In fact, the longer the twenty-two page periodical plays out the more minimalist the artwork becomes, and it is almost as if Fraser spent so long carefully drawing his stunningly detailed splash pages of “the friendliest world for all” that he had scant time to finish the rest of the comic.
Criticisms as to the look and plot of this publication aside though, Ewing’s ability to replicate actor Matt Smith’s speech pattern, especially early on when the titular character is berating an “eerie, giant-headed” pig-costumed employee, genuinely brings a smile to the face, and is undoubtedly this book’s saving grace. It’s certainly very easy to hear the BAFTA Award-nominee’s voice and spoken inflection throughout the Doctor’s dialogue, with the Gallifreyan’s lecturing of Hart proving to be a highlight of an otherwise unremarkable and confusing climax…
|Writer: Al Ewing, Artist: Simon Fraser, and Colorist: Gary Caldwell|