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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
The Tenth Doctor
Facing Fate: The Good Companion (Hardback)


Writer: Nick Abadzis
Artist: Giorgia Sposito
Colourists: Adele Matera and Arianna Florean
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: UK £18.99, US $22.99
Age: All
ISBN: 978 1 78586 535 0
112 pages
Publication Date: 01 August 2018

Out in the darkness of the Vortex, the Time Sentinel lurks. What nefarious plan does it have for the TARDIS crew? The Doctor, Gabby and Cindy are threatened by the most deadly cosmic entity they’ve ever faced – one that could eradicate the Doctor’s very timeline! Year Three of the Tenth Doctor’s comic adventures reaches its game-changing conclusion with devastating consequences for everyone on board the TARDIS! Can they all make it out in one piece, or will the fate of these beloved companions be changed forever? Writer Nick Abadzis (Pigs Might Fly, Laika) teams up with artist Giorgia Sposito (Wonderland) to take the Tenth Doctor’s impossibly epic story to the limit – and beyond…!

As we dive into the pages of this graphic novel, which collects #11–14 of the Tenth Doctor’s third year of adventures with Titan Comics, we are greeted by multiple return appearances.

Some of these reappearances are only to be expected, such as those of the Groske whom we glimpsed at the end of the previous volume, the round-headed Time Sentinels that he was reporting to, the young Osiran Noobis and his disarmingly attractive (for a dog-headed alien) girlfriend Siffhoni.

Some of the comebacks are more of a surprise, such as the return of Cleo (formerly a member of the Cult of the Black Pyramid), the Red TARDIS, Onzlo and Marteek of the Mechma Onzlo III space station junk yard. The Doctor visits the latter because he intends to repair the biomechanical scanning device he obtained from them last time – happily, the delightful Marcie is not as destroyed as we might have thought she was.

That’s a lot of characters for writer Nick Abadzis to juggle with and for the reader to keep tabs on. It also divides the Doctor’s attention, giving him multiple problems to deal with. He is distracted from the difficulties facing Onzlo and Marteek when he receives a distress call from Cleo, so he diverts the TARDIS to Earth (even though it’s a time machine and so didn’t really need to change course right away). No sooner has the Doctor ascertained that our planet is under imminent threat of destruction than he is distracted again, this time by a message from Noobis.

Some of the characters are developed in unexpected ways, such as the allegiance of the Red TARDIS, and what happens between Cindy and Cleo – of which I shall say no more! It also turns out that the various shades of Time Sentinel have distinct personalities, giving rise to some surprisingly wry comments, particularly from Aspect Blue. “Sometimes Red likes to go by the name Agent Crimson,” he explains to Gabby, “Just to let the rest of us know that he’s in charge.” When Aspect Red criticises the Doctor for having cauterised a potential timeline, Blue mutters an aside, “That’s actually our job.”

During this exchange, artist Giorgia Sposito makes disconcerting use of reflections, showing Gabby’s face in the spherical heads of the Time Sentinels who address her.

The writer clearly has a great love for Tom Baker’s swansong Logopolis. Having previously given block-transfer computing abilities to the artist Zhe Ikiyuyu (who instructs Gabby in the use of such powers in this graphic novel), Abadzis has the Doctor hit upon an idea that the Master originally proposed in the 1981 serial: reconfiguring the TARDIS into a time-cone inverter to safeguard an area of space-time. Also harking back to the 1980s, reference is made to Aspect Black – which obviously means Shayde, the Time Sentinel who appeared in several Doctor Who Magazine comic strips during the early ’80s and late ’90s.

All of this builds towards a huge and satisfying confrontation. The numerous good guys come together, as do the bad guys – who are far more numerous, with dozens of Time Sentinels in shot at certain times. The cataclysmic conclusion involves a tear-jerking parting of the ways for the TARDIS travellers, and a couple more surprise reappearances – which I wouldn’t dream of spoiling for you.

The role of colourists Adele Matera and Arianna Florean in all of this should not be underestimated. As is demonstrated in six comparison pages at the back of the book, Matera and Florean have done far more than simply colour in Sposito’s work. In the examples shown, Matera has also added light, shade, backgrounds, vignettes and other effects, as well as somehow picking out and inverting the brightness of the ‘vortex butterfly’ shapes, making the light areas appear dark and vice versa.

Matera has been a good companion – as have Gabby, Cindy, Noobis and the rest.


Richard McGinlay

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