Written by Tony Lee, Art by Andrew Currie

IDW, 2011.

I’m no expert on Doctor Who, but even I know that the experience of the show is largely about which actor is playing the part: his facial expressions, his voice, his body language, his mannerisms.

To pull that off in comics, I think you need an artist who is exceptionally good with faces (I’m looking at you, Dave Gibbons), or you need to be a slave to photo reference. This comic does the latter with mixed success.

This comic has some things going for it. It’s only a buck (I got mine for free when I bought some other comics). The story is self-contained: you don’t need to buy another four issues to find out what happens, and you probably don’t need to know that much about Doctor Who.

In this issue, The Doctor’s companions’ mobile phones interact with the Tardis in a way that causes their junk mail to come to life. This leads to some wacky visuals which you would never see on the show in any of its incarnations, like a talking stapler and an anthropomorphized dog. The comic takes advantage of the fact of its comic-ness to stretch beyond the show and I appreciated that. Actually, the fact that it’s only one issue long also makes it unique, as storylines on the show have always run several episodes long.

(Talking staplers, etc.)

The art sometimes works quite effectively. Currie’s rendering of The Doctor has a range of facial expressions that capture Matt Smith’s acting pretty well. On the other hand, sometimes he just flat out chooses the wrong photo to reference and the result is awkward and off-putting. One real surprise is when an alien turns up that Currie has clearly modeled on Danny Trejo — perhaps the scariest actor alive — with certain cartoony liberties taken. Now, that’s some ingenuity! And you wouldn’t expect an artist to make that much effort with a tertiary character we’ll probably never see again, and we will almost certainly never see Danny Trejo actually appear on an episode of Doctor Who. Seeing Currie pull that stunt made me wish he had more confidence in his own abilities and stretch himself elsewhere too. But who knows — maybe the mandate to stick to photo reference came down from IDW.

(Wrong facial expression for her, period.)

(Danny Trejo: Alien Barbarian)

I don’t have much more to say about this comic. The story is not deep, but it’s cute. And while it doesn’t rock the Doctor Who boat, it certainly sails into unfamiliar waters.

KS

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Kumar Sivasubramanian is the writer of Weird Crime Theater.