Time and Moffat may have taken the Ponds away from us too soon, but thanks to the magic time travelling properties of comics, where everything is a little bit stuck in the past, IDW can return them to us for the first issue of their new Doctor Who ongoing series. And with writer Andy Diggle and artist Mark Buckingham on top form, it's a top-notch opening issue to what looks like a thoroughly promising series.
"The Hypothetical Gentleman" does suffer a little from sharing some of the flaws I perceive the show to have right now, in that this is aimed more at adults than at children. The story is a little more grown up than I like for Doctor Who to be, with just these few odd moments which take you out of all-ages fare. However, more than with the show, Diggle manages to mix the adult ideas into a story which feels inclusive rather than exclusive. His literary references and history lessons add to the story rather than detract, and treats the reader with a little intelligence. Diggle doesn't alternately talk down to his audience and then throw out ideas designed to whistle over their heads. He makes his ideas understandable and fun, and involving.
Mark Buckingham was an inspired choice for artist, as he takes the basic details of the actors and replicates them for his own style. You can see a distinct resemblance between Matt Smith and Buckingham's artwork, but at the same time he chooses to deviate a little to make the characters fit the page more interestingly. Amy looks different, for a start — just enough Karen Gillan to keep readers happy, but with details and design choices which give her a different aesthetic on the page. Buckingham's storytelling is superb, as ever. Doctor Who doesn't tend to do action scenes so much as it does incidental comedy and chasing around — and while we've yet to see the latter, Buckingham reveals a gift for the former. He's aided by the textured work of colorist Charlie Kirchoff, who does some lovely work with the characters and tone.
The characterization is nailed for all three of the main cast, with Rory's voice particularly close to the show. Diggle seems to have a little more affection for the Rory/Amy dynamic then the show did, and paints them as equals rather than a sidekick and her sidekick. The Doctor feels like a presence secondary to everyone else, which is how I like him, and his calm manner feels warm and generous rather than dangerous and careless. The story plays into the varying strengths of these three, taking them into the narrative in classic style. The book perhaps doesn't end with the strongest cliffhanger, but for the most part manages to manage the strands of story well, mixing humor with drama to create an engrossing read.
On the basis of this first issue, IDW have made a very smart decision in bringing Diggle and Buckingham to the world of Doctor Who. Assured and fun, this looks set to be a great addition to the series.
Steve Morris is the head and indeed only writer for Comics Vanguard, the internet's 139th most-favorite comic-book website. You can find him on Twitter at @stevewmorris, which is mostly nonsensical gibberish you may enjoy or despise. His favorite Marvel character is Darkstar, while his favorite DC character is, also, Darkstar. He's on Team X-Men, you guys.