Disaster strikes as the TARDIS crashes smack dab into the middle of a honking big time paradox. In other words, it’s just another typically bizarre day for the Doctor and his companions in the pages of Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #11 from Titan Comics.
The Doctor learned that the mysterious shape-shifting ARC is actually the mind of the strange Entity that he recently encountered. ARC was ripped from its body by the ruthless interplanetary corporation SERVEYOUinc (damn it, that name is playing havoc with spellcheck). Now hoping to locate the Entity, the Doctor has ARC plug in to the TARDIS telepathic circuits. ARC discovers that it can navigate the time machine to back before it was captured by SERVEYOUinc, and attempts to alter its own past, despite the Doctor’s panicked attempts to stop this.
This results in the TARDIS fracturing from the attempt to rewrite history. Alice, Jones and ARC find themselves in different portions of the damaged ship. The Doctor is left drifting through space in a non-corporeal state, helplessly witnessing the agents of SERVEYOUinc attacking & capturing the Entity.
“Four Dimensions” is another temporal twister from writer Al Ewing. He brings together some of the threads he (along with series co-writer Rob Williams) has been developing in previous issues. Since the beginning of this series, the Doctor and his companions have been encountering various representatives of SERVEYOUinc, albeit in a non-linear fashion, hopping back & forth across the timeline. It’s a very Steven Moffat storyline, with the Doctor meeting people who he yet to meet but who already know him from events that to them are the past. And, of course, vice versa. Ewing utilizes this issue to finally establish the chronological order of events, clearing up some of the confusion the Doctor and his companions (as well as the readers, no doubt) have been experiencing.
Ewing also looks at the fallout from the Doctor’s disastrous confrontation with SERVEYOUinc in the last two issues. It’s been commented from time to time that the Doctor is usually most successful when fighting against overtly villainous foes such as invading armies and power-mad dictators. When he has to deal with subtler adversaries, such as deeply entrenched political corruption or corporate malfeasance that is technically taking place within the boundaries of the law, he often ends up making a hash of things.
That’s exactly what happened in this case: the Doctor attempted to beat SERVEYOUinc at their own game by using time travel to raise enough capital to buy them out. Instead, it completely blew up in his face, and the Doctor became a helpless pawn of SERVEYOUinc, corrupted by their promises & lies. It fell to Alice and Jones to have to save him and everyone else.
This is followed up on in issue #11. The Doctor is attempting to locate the Entity to prevent it from falling into the “wrong hands.” To this, Jones offhandedly replies “What, like yours?” Alice is furious at this rude comment, but the Doctor is forced to acknowledge that there is validity to what Jones said, that he really did mess things up in their confrontation with SERVEYOUinc. Ewing has previously shown Alice role in keeping the Doctor’s ego in check. Now we see Jones also playing a part in that.
After the TARDIS is cracked, the plot gets really wonky. Credit goes to artist Boo Cook for successfully pulling this off with his inventive four-panel pages, effective layouts and off-kilter compositions as the action is split between the Doctor, Alice, Jones and ARC.
Cook has been alternating with Simon Fraser and Warren Pleece on art chores for The Eleventh Doctor. Truthfully, Fraser has been my favorite until now, as his style fits in quite well with what I regard as “traditional” Doctor Who comic book artwork. Cook, in contrast, has a much wilder, sketchy style to his work. You might describe it as looking “early 1990s Image Comics.”
Cook’s unconventional work is a perfect fit for the story in issue #11, though. He draws some really odd and interesting pages. Cook even manages to pull off Jones’ latest fashion experiment, with the destined-to-be glam rock god wearing full clown regalia & make-up.
I definitely have to point out the contributions of colorists Hi-Fi. I’ve noticed their coloring work on a number of occasions in the past. In this issue, after our cast members are split apart, each of them and their surroundings are colored in a different hue. This works very well in conjunction with Cook’s artwork.
Rounding out the issue is another humorous “Pond Life” back-up strip by Marc Ellerby. The Doctor once again drops in on Amy and Rory, this time with Strax the Sontaran in tow. The two are about to embark on their annual “pub crawl across the galaxy.” Amy suggests that Rory accompany them, which he does reluctantly. And over the next two pages, naturally enough, hilarity ensues.
I will admit that I found last few issues of The Eleventh Doctor a bit underwhelming. They weren’t bad, just not as interesting as they could have been, at least in my estimation. But Ewing and Cook definitely did excellent work on issue #11.
In any case, despite its slightly uneven quality, Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor is still a good read, and I’m looking forward to what Ewing and his artistic collaborators bring us next.