Things are not going well for the Eleventh Doctor and Alice Obiefune. Their friend Jones, who was one day destined to become a Bowie-esque rock god, has been killed saving Alice from a power-mad Nimon, and the mysterious shape-changing robot known only as ARC has barely saved the TARDIS from being destroyed. And that’s only on the first page of our story. Or should I say the last page?
Writer Rob Williams and artist Simon Fraser turn matters back-to-front in Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #6, published by Titan Comics. “Space in Dimension Relative and Time” sees the time stream “running backwards in incremental jumps.” Only the Doctor, due to his Time Lord nature, is able to perceive this. “I’m aware we’re running backwards through time but no one else is,” the Doctor announces to himself.
With history repeatedly leaping back, the Doctor realizes that he has an opportunity to change events and save Jones from being killed. However, an even more pressing issue is at hand. As he tells Alice, “We have to stop this… time can’t run backwards. It’ll destroy us. It’ll destroy everything.”
This is one of the most high-concept Doctor Who comic book stories I’ve read since Rich Johnson penned the Tenth Doctor adventure Room With A Déjà Vu, published back in 2009 by IDW. Rob Williams’ plotting for The Eleventh Doctor #6 is mind-bending, tossing the reader right into the thick of things. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the conclusion.
Appropriately enough, even the page numbering runs backwards in this issue!
Once again Williams does an excellent job at capturing the voice of Matt Smith’s Doctor. I could so totally imagine him on television having a conversation with a geranium that he’s decided to call “Dave.” Reading Williams’ dialogue for the Doctor, you can definitely “hear” Smith’s voice in your head.
This issue is more plot-orientated than the previous few. Nevertheless, even with all the regressions back through time, Williams is able to fit in a few small moments to further develop Alice, Jones and ARC. I’m interested in seeing where he goes with the trio and their relationship with the Doctor in upcoming issues.
I am really wondering how exactly Simon Fraser illustrated this one. How do you lay out a story where on each page events jump backwards? He must have put a great deal of thought into deciding exactly how to pace this, as well as making sure all of the details lined up. However Fraser went about it, the results are impressive.
Fraser even does a good job rendering the Nimon. Now there is an old monster that I never thought I would see again. Well, actually, if I had to pick the unlikeliest aliens to ever return to Doctor Who, it would have been the Macra, who appeared in a story that aired once way back in 1967 and which probably no longer exists barring a few seconds of footage that were saved from the scrapheap. Yet low and behold the Macra popped up four decades later in “Gridlock.” So if they could return from obscurity, I suppose the snicker-inducing Nimons were capable of doing so, as well.
Actually, the Nimons were used in one of the Doctor Who audio stories from Big Finish, which makes a certain sense, since their eerie, menacing voices were definitely their best feature. Even the revived television series gave them an unexpected nod when the Doctor identified the Minotaur from “The God Complex” as a distant relative of the Nimons. So, yeah, I guess it’s not too unprecedented that one of them shows up in this issue.
Credit where it is due: Fraser does his very best with what is a silly-looking design and manages to render the Nimon to look at least semi-menacing. Fraser even gives the Nimon a handy suit of “temporal armor” which makes the creature appear slightly more imposing and less ill-proportioned.
There’s some nice work on this issue by colorist Gary Caldwell. His palette of colors works very well with Fraser’s art, emphasizing the reality-bending, time-twisting elements. Caldwell’s work on the opening page (or is it the closing page?) of the issue, with the TARDIS amongst the vastness of the cosmos, is beautiful.
This issue’s time-twisty cover is by Verity Glass. The Escher-inspired piece features an endless series of TARDISes inside one another, spiraling inward into an infinite regression. It definitely suits the story by Williams & Frasier.