FIVE GATEWAY COMICS FOR DOCTOR WHO FANS
27 September 2014
By Daniel Carpenter
Doctor Who is great. No, let me finish – no matter what your opinion of Moffat’s tenure as showrunner, there are certain things you cannot ever deny about the Doctor. Not only is it one of the longest running shows in television history, but it is also still one of the most popular, and the best thing about it? It’s a genre show. In fact, you could say that it is THE genre show. It’s been science-fiction, horror, thriller, and sometimes all of them in a single hour. For many people, it’s a gateway to a much larger world of genre fiction, with Who fans flocking to conventions and discovering some of their favourite authors.
Of course, there’s one area of geekdom which, to an outsider, can seem impenetrable: Comics. That continuity laden beast of a form, with shelves in shops piled full of issue 23 of Some Adjective X-Men or The Hulk Did What Now? and Another Jean Grey Dies story. What was it that Matt Smith’s Doctor said? “All of time and space; everywhere and anywhere; every star that ever was. Where do you want to start?” It can feel a bit like that. It’s fair to say that in the past with their clone sagas and Knightfalls, comics did not do themselves any justice in catering to outsiders, but over the past decade they’ve been getting far better.
What then, does this have to do with Doctor Who?
Everyone has their favourite episode of new Who, don’t they? From 'Father’s Day' to 'Blink', to 'The Doctor’s Wife' – we’ve all fallen in love with one of the many episodes that have been produced since Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor burst onto our screens. Well, where everyone has a favourite Doctor Who episode, I’d bet there’s a great first comic for that person.
So, in the interests of listophiles everywhere – here’s the definitive list of recommendations for your first comic, based on some of your favourite Doctor Who episodes.
If you like…Blink, then you’ll love Locke & Key
The all-time Moffat classic Blink needs no introduction, a simple premise with a small scale cast which brings the scares, this is the quintessential gateway Doctor Who episode. Fans of Blink will lap up the haunted house-esque scares of Joe Hill’s Locke & Key which shares a small cast, and an equally simple premise: a series of magical keys, each with a different ability. The series runs across six volumes, and ended recently making this the perfect time to pick up Volume One: Welcome to Lovecraft.
If you like…Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, then you’ll love New Avengers
Jonathan Hickman’s relaunch of New Avengers shares some common elements with Russell T Davies’ series 2 finale, not least the incursion of parallel Earths, the villainous mapmakers bear a slight resemblance to the Earth-2 Cybermen from the Tennent era. Hickman’s Avengers run (comprising both adjectiveless and New) has been stellar so far and, now in its final stages, is likely to stand the test of time as one of the best runs on the title in years.
If you like…Turn Left, then you’ll love 52
Turn Left was one of the highlights of the fourth series of the show, with the ball firmly in Russell T Davies’ court – it’s all family drama played against a huge What If scenario in which the Doctor dies, and the events of the first four series occur without him there to save anyone. Of course, the episode without the Doctor serves to highlight why we need him, and DC’s weekly series 52 did the same thing for the trinity of superheroes: Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman. After the events of Infinite Crisis they take a year out and leave all the superheroing up to a group of B-listers including Steel, Booster Gold and Adam Strange. As with Turn Left, it’s really an exploration of the big three and why they have endured for so long.
If you like…The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, then you’ll love Flex Mentallo
The best series finale for the whole of new Who so far is a kind of mission statement for Moffat. Self-fulling prophecies, time looping around, and paradoxes abound. There’s a lot of confusion within Grant Morrison’s classic Flex Mentallo, which takes the titular character from the pages of Doom Patrol in which he discovered – like the Roman centurions in guarding the Pandorica – that he was actually lifted wholesale from a comic book (and in a lovely Morrison twist, the character of Flex Mentallo was actually inspired by Charles Atlas). The four issue mini-series which has recently been rereleased after a series of complex legal wranglings, is part autobiography, part mission statement from Morrison who, like Moffat, has a strong love/hate relationship with fans.
If you like…Father’s Day, then you’ll love Seconds
One of the best episodes from the relaunched show, Father’s Day took the central conceit of time travel and filtered it through a deeply personal story of the lengths Rose would go to save her father, and the consequences of her actions. Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim) tells a similar, albeit less devastating version of this story in his new comic Seconds, in which a restaurateur gets a chance to redo events in her past, and becomes addicted to making her life perfect. Of course, Father’s Day had the villainous Reapers, and Seconds…well, you’ll just have read to see what monsters it has in store.
So, that’s our list, but what would you add? What comics would you recommend to Doctor Who fans and why?