I’m willing to admit that I’m a fair-weather Doctor Who fan. I don’t mean to be, but that’s just how it works out. Thanks to a relative, I started by watching the first modern television run with Eccleston back in 2005, then followed the delightful rabbit hole back to the first season that aired in 1963, through to Tom Baker (my personal favorite) and beyond. The experience was a blast and cemented my love for the series, but every so often the writing takes a dip, and I have to take a break. The newest comic, Supremacy of the Cybermen, is the end of my most recent hiatus.
Liberated from the shackles of television budgets, shooting schedules, and actors who have contracts, , the comic series is free to use any Doctor (and their likenesses) as they please. In this case, Supremacy of the Cybermen follows the adventures of the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Doctors, played by Eccleston, Tennant, Smith, and Capaldi respectively. Supremacy picks up right after the Doctor’s most recent incarnation has located the Time Lord homeworld of Gallifrey at the end of the universe and exiled Rassilon, one of his many foils.
But our tale begins with the Doctor crash-landing on the planet Karn, greeting us with a rather chipper, comedic tone that once again subverts the direness of the situation, as the Doctor is wont to do. From there we shift immediately to the 11th Doctor and his companion Alice, who are adventuring in prehistoric times, complete with giant dinosaurs and beautiful flowing hues of green that contrast nicely with Karn’s bright red volcanic setting. Then we jump to the 10th Doctor in 24th Century Deep Space on board an astro train, before moving into an apocalyptic London in 2006 with Doctor number 9. Phew!
So this series moves around a lot, with the Doctors all having their own separate storylines that will (eventually) meld into one another. Some of these storylines are stronger than others. As usual, Tennant’s Doctor gets one of the more interesting narratives, in which he has to deal with an aggressive police force, though the Cybermen conflict is brought to a head in the storyline of the 12th, who opens and closes out the first issue (with a cliffhanger, of course). I quite like the concept of perfecting one’s body with modifications and enhancements (a theme that many forms of media have explored, and not always just in sci-fi), and there’s a lot of potential here with the nature of the Cybermen putting the concept at the forefront of the series.
The illustrations in general are great, and showcase Doctor Who’s wide variety of settings and scenarios. Each segment feels different, but the style is unified all the same. There are a few stylistic inconsistencies in some frames though, most notably in some of the scenes that are far away (and lack detail), but it’s not too jarring, especially when some of the wide spread shots are good enough to frame.
I’m invested enough in this new run to keep reading. The Cybermen are fun, formidable villains, and every time they appear in the series it’s generally an enjoyable time. Reading the bits of dialogue in the voice of each Doctor also helps.