Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor #1
Written by Andrew Cartmel
Art by Christopher Jones and Marco Lesko
Lettering by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt
Published by Titan Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor makes his Titan Comics debut with intrigue, a decades-spanning mystery, and a whole mess of co-stars in the debut of Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor. Written by former Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel and “executive produced” by Remembrance of the Daleks author Ben Aaronovitch, The Seventh Doctor #1 feels like a natural progression of the harder-edged and ambitious episodes from McCoy’s tenure, dropping the Doctor and Ace in the middle of a mysterious alien dig site that is infiltrated by spies. Couple Cartmel’s authentic script and fun fan service with the screen-accurate, vibrant pencils and colors of Christopher Jones and Marco Lesko, and Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor #1 stands as a engrossing and worthy reintroduction for one of the most underrated Doctors.
The book begins in 1967, where after a British hydrogen bomb test, the massive form of what looks like a spacecraft juts from the ground in defiance of natural laws. Cut to 2029, and that same ship, along with a familiar face, are salvaged by an orbiting junker crew and brought back to Earth in order to suss out their true purpose. And right in the middle of everything we have the impish Seventh Doctor and his plucky, action-ready companion Ace, who are brought in to help bolster Counter-Measures’ research team and lend a little otherworldly expertise to the situation.
Though readers might be a little turned off by the slower establishing pace of this first issue and maybe even a little frustrated at the similarities between this story and Cartmel’s Seventh Doctor BBC Books effort, Atom Bomb Blues, this first issue still carries with it heavy “geek cred” thanks to Cartmel and Aaronovitch’s involvement. Having both worked on the final televised series of classic Who and proved integral parts of the Seventh Doctor’s mercurial and somewhat Machiavellian characterization, who better than them to bring McCoy and Sophie Aldred’s Ace back into the fold?
And bring them back they do, with a juicy time-spanning mystery and plenty of great uses of the weird, wide world of Doctor Who. While longtime fans will be pleased at Cartmel’s commitment to the tone and scope of the Seventh Doctor’s stories, as well as his spot-on characterizations for Ace and the Doctor, this first issue sweetens the pot with the inclusion of the Counter-Measures characters, a group who made their first appearance during the classic era and who grew into a major part of the Big Finish expanded Who universe. Not only does this make great use of the post-TV life of Doctor Who, but also gives this debut issue yet another solid connection to the Seventh Doctor and Ace’s past stories, which more than makes up for the more withholding establishing nature of this first script.
Handling the visuals for this first issue are artist Christopher Jones and colorist Marco Lesko, the former readers will remember from Titan’s Third Doctor miniseries. Jones, who does a fantastic job balancing the human element and fantastical needed for good Doctor Who stories, brings that same balance and emotive quality to this new series. Though most of the issue is set in dusty, sun-baked encampments with the occasional pop into the cold vacuum of space, Jones and Lesko really translate the feel of the old episodes beautifully onto the pages of this debut. Jones in particular makes sure all the actors that have been featured on screen, mainly McCoy and Aldred, really shine through the artwork by capturing the pair’s infectious charm and wonderful dynamic with one another throughout the issue.
And so while Titan Comics steadily marches down the “Road to Thirteen,” they prove that they are still more than committed to the past of Doctor Who thanks to The Seventh Doctor #1. Stacked high with fandom credentials and graced with realistic, but tonally sound and screen accurate pencils and colors, this latest debut issue keeps the company’s classic Who win streak alive while staying true to the era it is documenting. Thanks to its sunny artwork and its well-established writing staff, Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor #1 looks to be another entertaining trip in the TARDIS for Titan Comics and Whovians around the cosmos.