I’m a latecomer to Doctor Who. My 11-year-old son turned me on to the television series a few months ago, and we have been steadily making our way through the Netflix collection. When I saw Doctor Who: The Dave Gibbons Collection, I couldn’t pass it up. I mean Dave Gibbons, artist of Watchmen and Superman: “For the Man Who Has Everything,” and Doctor Who together in comics? How could you go wrong?
Since I’m no expert, my insight into how these stories relate to older episodes of the series will be admittedly limited. The collection mainly focuses on the Tom Baker incarnation of the Doctor, with a few stories towards the end that include the Peter Davison incarnation, including one of my favorites in the collection “The Tides of Time.” Sharon and K-9 are the Doctor’s companions for several stories, but most of the time he travels alone in these stories and meets people along the way.
Naturally, Dave Gibbons’ artwork lives up to his reputation. The colors and detail are superb throughout the collection. From what I can tell, he captured Tom Baker’s manic grin and personality perfectly, but I’m going on very limited knowledge of Baker. Gibbons’ vision of creatures, space vehicles, and intergalactic communities completely drew me into the stories.
The book opens with several multi-part stories that I really enjoyed- “The Iron Legion,” “The City of the Damned,” and “The Star Beast.” “The City of the Damned,” which has Orwellian themes, is probably my favorite of the collection. The citizens of the city are controlled and programmed to be emotionless, but there is a gang of rebels, who each exhibit one emotion, fighting the controllers. There is a quirky ending befitting the Doctor.
“The Tides of Time” runs a close second. It shows a side of the Doctor I haven’t seen in the latest seasons of the television series. There are massive powers at play in the universe. The Doctor is mainly along for the ride and is just as confused as everyone else. The story takes some really bizarre turns, but is visually stunning.
There are several other stories in the collection where the Doctor seems to just be along for the ride without contributing much, but they are one-off, quick stories that seem to end as soon as they really begin. There also seems to be a lot more Star-Wars-like space battles and lasers in these older stories, but that may be natural in the older stories and incarnations of the Doctor.