Book Review – Eleventh Doctor Vol. 1 – After Life

  • Title: After Life
  • Authors: Al Ewing and Rob Williams
  • Artists: Simon Fraser, Boo Cook, Gary Caldwell, Hi-Fi, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: 11th Doctor
  • Characters: Eleventh Doctor, Alice Obiefune
  • Collection Date: 2015
  • Collected Issues: Issues # 1-5
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/16/2015

After Life is the first collected volume in Titan Comics Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) Doctor Who series. The art is fantastic and I really loved it. It has a wonderful painted quality, with some pages looking like a watercolor with subtle differences in shading of essentially the same color palette such as grey or sepia; whereas other pages use bright colors, but not the traditional “comic” 4-color look. It’s truly excellent art. The panel order is also very clear, and the imagery is sharp and crisp not blurry or fuzzy.

The first story is this collection of five issues was my favorite, it introduces Alice Obiefune, who first loses her mother, whom she had been caring for, for years. Then she loses her job. Then her landlord throws her out of her apartment so he can sell the building at a profit for luxury apartment complexes. Also, when she reaches out to a friend she finds her friend is moving away. Alice, needless to say, is very sad and depressed. And she runs into a Rainbow Dog – an alien; and the Doctor. Alice helps the Doctor chase the Rainbow Dog, but then the Doctor sees a Time Lord Cardinal out of the corner of his eye, gets distracted, and runs into a light pole. Soon after he leaves Alice, and disappears. Alice returns to her apartment, determined to fight back and at least keep the apartment. Then the TARDIS arrives. Alice and the Doctor spend some time together, rescue the Rainbow Dog and reunite it with it’s child-alien owner. The Doctor takes Alice for a trip in the TARDIS.

The Doctor and Alice head for what the Doctor says is a beautiful place, an entire planet set aside as a System-Wide Park. A national trust or national park. But when they arrive, the planet’s been destroyed and turned into an amusement park. To make matters worse, everyone is deliriously happy – artificially so. The Doctor and Alice find the aliens responsible and put a stop to it, and free the citizens of the park and the planet with it’s waste mines and destruction. It was a good story, but told too quickly – it should have been two issues at least.

The third story ties in with the second one, in that the same “group” or villain is at the root of what’s going on, but the story is somewhat confusing and jumps back and forth in time a bit too much. It’s also a somewhat predictable story of the musician who makes a deal with the devil to get his talent. The only interesting bit is that the Doctor also makes some sort of deal – and although Alice and temporary companion John Jones manage to save the Doctor – he can’t remember what he was willing to sell his soul (so to speak) for. However, since we again see a glimpse of a Time Lord Cardinal, we can certainly guess. I just felt this story was both predictable and a bit flat.

The final two issues bound into this graphic novel are a single story. Characters from the previous two stories appear again, and the story is set on a deep space research station or base, where something has gone horribly wrong and a number of people are in comas as a result. The Doctor, and Alice find out eventually that the station was torturing an “Autonomous Reasoning Center” literally a walking mind. This mind doesn’t want to hurt people or even take revenge for being hurt – it simply wants to know – but it’s attempts at communication were painful or hurting others. The Doctor straightens it all out.

All four stories in volume one were good, but I felt the first story was the best. In a sense, this volume of the new Titan Comics Doctor Who graphic novels seemed to be aimed a bit more at younger children or at least at teens. But the stories are still good – just not mind-blowingly great. I have the second volume and look forward to reading it soon.

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Book Review – Doctor Who: Atom Bomb Blues

  • Title: Atom Bomb Blues
  • Series: BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Andrew Cartmel
  • Characters:  Seventh Doctor, Ace
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 2/22/2013

Finishing this book gave me a sense of accomplishment and a sense of sadness. I have been collecting and reading the BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures (PDA) and Eighth Doctor Adventures (EDA) paperback books series for years (at least since 2001 and possibly before that). I’ve always thought that of the six series (so far) of books based on the BBC television series, Doctor Who, that the PDAs and EDAs had the best writing and were the closest to the characterizations from the actual TV series. So reaching the last Past Doctor Adventure was sad… but since I’ve read most of the PDAs, it was also a sense of accomplishment, it is a series of 76 books after all — that’s a lot.

So, getting on to the review of this particular book in the series. Atom Bomb Blues brings Ace and the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy’s version, e.g. the 7th Doctor) to New Mexico in 1945 during the development and testing phase of the nuclear bomb. The novel moves very fast at the beginning and introduces some great characters. Later on it gets a bit confusing. However, overall I did really like the book, it was an enjoyable read, and the Doctor and Ace were in character. This is a stand-alone Ace and the Doctor novel and not part of Mike Tucker & Robert Perry’s mini-series within the PDA series starring Ace and the Doctor.

One of few things I did find annoying about the PDAs was that every time the series takes the Doctor and his companion to the US there are very basic errors (Dying in the Sun being one of the worst). Unfortunately, Atom Bomb Blues is no exception, with the author continuously mis-spelling “chili” as “chilli”. Very distracting. (At the beginning of the novel a Mexican-American cook/housekeeper’s chili is an important plot-point of sorts). Minor problem, yes, but annoying anyway. I also think it should have been colder in the New Mexico desert at night, but whatever.

However, I did like the plot and the characters. “Cosmic Ray” seemed a bit out of time (his accent and slang are very 60s) but that gets explained later. Ace was wonderful — I especially liked how she reacts to the Doctor’s withholding information. That was very like the series itself, especially the 7th Doctor Era.

Overall, I recommend this particular book in the BBC Past Doctor Adventures series. This is a nice Swan Song for the series to go out on. The book is an enjoyable, fast read.