Doctor Who Volume II: Issue #11 Written by Tony Lee
Art by Matthew Dow Smith
Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Lettering by Shawn Lee
Covers by Mark Buckingham, Charlie Kirchoff, and Matthew Dow Smith IDW Publishing
Release Date: November 9, 2011
Cover Price: $3.99
“I’m a woman now: women are cool…”
Many decades ago, the concept of swapping the minds of two characters became a very clichéd plot device. Used across the genres of horror and science fiction, the device eventually found its way into more family friendly media such as Freaky Friday, and has even been used in a few of our favorite Looney Tunes cartoons in years gone by. Doctor Who Volume II #11 (and its predecessor, #10) takes on this plot device, and though clichéd as it is, it fits nicely into the Whoniverse.
The concluding issue to Body Snatched begins where we find the Doctor and assistants Amy Pond and Rory Williams on a hospital planet, where antagonist Dr. Sol Rubin has perfected the science of mind-swapping, in experiments being conducted on organically grown creatures. In an attempt to occupy the body of a Time Lord, Rubin attempts to insert his mind into the Doctor, but an accident causes Amy to end up with the mind of our Gallifreyan hero and vice-versa.
There are many fans over the years that have speculated the possibility and wondered at whether it would ever materialize that a new incarnation of the Doctor would ever be female. Joanna Lumley from Absolutely Fabulous had a shot in the slightly non-canon, Steven Moffat-written Curse of the Fatal Death back in 1999, also starring Rowan Atkinson as a probable Ninth Doctor. Neil Gaiman settled the debate as to whether Time Lords could regenerate into the opposite sex in Series 6’s The Doctor’s Wife, with dialogue establishing that The Corsair had indeed regenerated into a girl at some stage.
So it seems possible, even plausible, that the Steven Moffat showrunner era of Doctor Who could be riding towards the eventual rise of a female Doctor Who incarnation — something absolutely embraced with this issue of the comic series where Amy Pond is the Doctor and the Doctor is Amy Pond. And I have to say, it’s pretty damn sexy seeing Pond in a bow tie — pardon my geek persuasions! (Also, for persons of the other or both persuasions, there’s an awesome Rory kissing Doctor scene that even Captain Jack Harkness would be impressed with).
The only time the entire concept of mind-swapping ever works in stories, are in tales where the characters are already well-established, and well-loved by their audiences. It’s the fish-out-of-water meets stranger-in-a-strange-land ambiance that makes it work; and in the world of Doctor Who, where the ridiculous could be plausible, and the conceivable could be preposterous, it gels really well — and the crew from IDW have done an exceptional job with this comic. At any moment it could have taken a turn for the clichéd tackiness, but it really stayed true to the spirit of Doctor Who — and that’s what matters!
Possibly set between the events of Series 5 and Series 6, the tale also recalls elements from both the classic and modern Doctor Who television show, with a few references here and there to Ice Warriors, Rory’s 2,000-year role as the guardian of the Pandorica and much more. The artwork in this comic, as mentioned in my previous review of issue #9, is generally fluid but angular, in some cases minimal, calling on specific styles based on the needs of the plot at particular moments. The accurate likenesses are absent here as well, which is not such a big deal in the long run, because the art continues to serve to story well.
Having said that though, for some end I could not decipher, I found that aspect more detracting in #11 than #9, and could not really see or find any elements that hearkened back to the comic book years of Classic Doctor Who that we had seen homages to in recent chapters. Perhaps new-to-this-issue artist Matthew Dow Smith is attempting to bring in his own flavor and style to the series, and far be it from me to criticize him for this, I do find myself missing those elements I previously posted about.
A few years back, there was a wonderful comic story of Doctor Who called The Lodger. It was quite popular, and eventually was adapted into the television episode of the same name, with Matt Smith as the Doctor, and James Corden as Craig Williams. Whilst reading this adventure, I couldn’t help but wish and hope that Moffat would take this story and adapt it into an episode for Series 7 or 8. The concept of Matt Smith having to act like Amy Pond, and Karen Gillan having to perform like the Doctor would be a spectacle to see on-screen — and it would also provide both actors with something different to do for a change.
And that speaks miles of credit to the writing of Tony Lee in this issue. If you find yourself craving that the comic media you’re reading was actually in the media form the franchise originated from, you know you’re on a winning tale. As crisis after crisis unfolds in the story, our characters find themselves faced with some ethical ambiguities and problems that would also work extremely well in the television format.
In short, I loved this issue, and as mentioned truly hope that Moffat or the BBC crew spot this story and adapt it into a television escapade. While the plot device may be clichéd, it works well in Doctor Who, and is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
I did miss Kevin the Dinosaur though. I hope he shows up again in the future.