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.