Guest Writer:Heidi Berthiaume
Writers-Al Ewing and Rob Williams
Artists-Simon Fraser, Boo Cook, and Warren Pleece
Covers-Alice X Zhang
Colors-Gary Caldwell and Hi-Fi
This article was possible due to the gift of a review copy, QWERTY, and rolling natural 20s.
Taking place after the Eleventh Doctor leaves (at the time) a happily married Amy and Rory in their new flat, Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor Complete Year One contains issues #1-15 of a new adventure featuring three new companions.
“After Life” introduces Alice Obiefune, an assistant librarian who has just lost her mother. Her world is filled with grayness and sadness. Then she comes face to face with a rainbow dog, and a chap in a tweed jacket and a bow tie who yells at her to hurry up and follow because the giant space alien is getting away.
“And that’s how it started.”
But the rainbow dog escapes, the odd man vanishes, and Alice goes back to her apartment. And sits in the dark. Alone.
“But the story wasn’t over yet” because a blue Police Box appears beside her coffee table, the Doctor comes out, and not wanting to be a bother or anything, says “You seemed sad.”
Talking together inside the TARDIS, Alice learns more about the habits of the rainbow dog and has an idea of where they might find it. More running ensues, this time with the Doctor and Alice being chased by the alien puppy. Alice proves her mettle facing down a unit of UNIT, and a happy reunion is had.
The Doctor takes Alice to Rokhandi, a beautiful, unspoiled paradise â€¦ or at least, that was the plan. What they encounter is a far too-happy theme park, “The Friendly Place,” where discontent customers are offered a free Rokhandi Floss, after which, some of them even become employees of the theme park and its parent company, SERVEYOUinc.
With a little prompt from the Doctor, Alice sees what isn’t there, leading them both to a confrontation with the theme park security. Confronting a caged alien, the Doctor gives it what it wants to conclude this adventure, unaware he has set in motion the beginning of a new one.
“What He Wants!” is told in a timey wimey fashion beginning with Alice and Jones kidnapping an alien-possessed Doctor in 1931 Mississippi. Prior to that, in 2014 London, Alice reminiscences over her mother’s favorite record album, the cover art of which is distinctive enough, even using this fictional character, to be easily recognizable. The Doctor whisks Alice back to 1962 so she can enjoy an early concert of the Chameleon of Pop, the tall, pale, Earl, Xavi Moonburst himself, John Jones!
Except Jones has less personality than a rock. Alice begins to question her memories of her mother and argues with the Doctor all the way to 1931 Mississippi, where it turns out Jones has such a talent for being non-descript he followed both of them into and out of the TARDIS without being noticed. And thus our story gains its second Companion.
Proceeding linearly from this point, the Doctor leads Alice and Jones to a shack in the countryside to hear one of the pioneers of Rock’n’Roll itself, Robert Johnson!
Except the shack is filled with zombie-like people with glowing, gold eyes. Alice and Jones escape while the Doctor frees Robert Johnson and gives him the sonic screwdriver to return to the TARDIS. Dragged back into the shed by the crowd, the Doctor meets the man behind the madness, an employee of SERVEYOUinc.
Alice proves again to be an impressive Companion, while Jones shows great courage, and Robert plays everyone a song.
In “Whodunnit?,” Alice has had enough and wants to go home. The Doctor agrees, and with every intention of taking her back to London ends up on a research base facing down a trigger-happy, oddly familiar security chief. Using his psychic paper to claim authority, the Doctor begins an investigation into why people have fallen into a coma that isn’t a coma. Alice is still working through the grief of loosing her mother while Jones works on lyrics to new songs and meets the murder everyone is seeking.
“The Sound of Our Voices” leads the Doctor to a slightly better understanding of SERVEYOUinc, what really happened on the research base, and a new Companion named Arc comes aboard the TARDIS. Watching the Doctor at his best, Alice decides to continue traveling with him.
Another timey wimey issue is “Space in Dimension Relative and Time.” Alice slaps the Doctor. The TARDIS explodes. Dave gets a promotion. An alien lands to subjugate a planet. Jones takes way too long in the bathroom putting on his new look. The Doctor does something naughty. But not in that order. I think.
Alice finally makes it home just in time for the skies to blaze with the lights and dying soldiers of “The Eternal Dogfight.” While not threatening to Earth per se, the Doctor has had enough and takes Arc and Jones up to the Wheel to find a way to stop the never-ending, galaxy-traveling war. Alice stays home, until visited by an unforgettable face.
Suddenly out of her apartment and on the Wheel, Alice introduces her mother to the Doctor, a joyous occasion or so she hoped. Instead, Jones is nearly incapacitated, Arc has contracted into a ball, and the five of them are about to be killed, as the Doctor rudely says her mother is still dead and he doesn’t know who the imposter is. Using her librarian skills, Alice find the answer to avoiding imminent death by saying Earth claims the right to send “The Infinite Astronaut.” As the cause of the great war between the Amstron and the J’arrodic is revealed, Jones and Alice take a trip none have ever returned from, where her greatest grief saves them both.
“The Rise and Fall” has the Doctor, Alice, and Jones take the fight to SERVEYOUinc headquarters. Going into the obvious trap with a craftily cunning plan, the Doctor gives Alice a wristwatch with a large button as Plan B â€¦ which she needs to push almost immediately.
Without the Doctor, Alice takes on the persona of “The Other Doctor” and Jones, in his Xavi Moonburst incarnation, try to keep creativity and stories alive in a dystopia world controlled by the most well-meaning person who ever flew a TARDIS. Eventually captured, Alice’s adventures as the Doctor come to a screaming end.
In one of the more interesting takes on alien invasion I’ve seen, “Give Free or Die” is a single-issue story of yet another persona for Jones that ends at a fan convention.
The final arc of this collection starts with “Four Dimensions” where the TARDIS takes an active role in trying to catch the Entity and undue some of the damage the Doctor has done. The explosion that results separates each character to a different physical area and into one of the colors used in the printing process: cyan, yellow, magenta, and black (CMYK). As the story of the Entity’s origin is told, Alice, Jones, and Arc find their way back to each other. As for the Doctor he still has amends to make.
From 1976 Berlin, to outer space and frozen faces, to Northern Rome in 312AD, “The Conversion” Parts 1 and 2, begin to wrap up the loose ends regarding the Entity, the Talent Scout, Arc, Jones, and Alice. And for the Pond fans, there is a Rory Williams reference.
“The Comfort of The Good” begins with a confrontation between the TARDIS and the Doctor â€¦ one he looses so badly that the Blue Box disappears. Alice and Arc do their best as the Doctor has to face the consequences of his actions that were both cruel and cowardly.
The final pages are a Cover Gallery of the included issues, and a Reader’s Guide to the Titan Comic Doctor Who series of comic.
Writers for this collection are Al Ewing and Rob Williams, who have wonderfully captured Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Eleventh Doctor – from his goofiness to his personal relationship with the TARDIS to his incredibly deep desire to help, sometimes at too great a cost. This collection felt like an extra TV season of Eleven and was a joy to read.
Simon Fraser, Boo Cook, and Warren Pleece created the art, with Gary Caldwell and Hi-Fi as the Colorists. The cover for the collection is by Alice X. Zhang, as are some of the covers of the individual issues that you can find in that Cover Gallery in the back of the book.
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor is a monthly comic from Titan Publishing Group, with issue 12 of the Third Year released in December 2017.