Doctor Who: Room With A Deja View hits stores this Wednesday, offering a mystery you know the solution to, a Doctor with only himself to thank, and a comic that makes playing with the medium more fun than you'd expect.
The 32 page oneshot from IDW (who just launched a monthly series starring David Tennant's Doctor recently) easily slots into the television show's current continuity, giving us a solo Doctor looking for a companion to talk to (or is that boast to?) before coming up with a novel candidate: himself. Not in the "Three/Five Doctors" sense, but in a way that plays with time travel in a more immediate way than the show normally allows itself.
In fact, playful describes the book well; writer Rich Johnston (Yes, that one) catches Tennant's voice more successfully than artist Eric J catches his likeness, and more than that, gets the show's semi-whimsical, semi-sentimental, dramatic-in-its-own-way tone down exactly; the plot could have come directly from the show, but the execution is beyond what British families would be ready to watch on Saturday evenings... which is a very good thing indeed.
There's a smartness to the book's gimmick - explained on the first page as a "warning": "Parts of this comic may read better backwards rather than forwards," it says, missing out that that's the only way you'll really be able to understand what's going on (Don't worry; it's much clearer to read than it is to explain. There's also color coding to help you, too, but you'll have to pick up on that one yourself) - that both Johnston and J fittingly underplay, distracting you instead with in-jokes (Inspector Mozz and Looz? Really, Rich?) and familiar themes (The Doctor's loneliness, the reverence Time Lords get from other races). In other hands, the reverse-read could be annoying and overplayed, but here it's just... there, and an important part of the plot that happens to have worked its way into the reading experience. It's successful, but more importantly, refreshing.
This isn't the kind of thing that would win over people who'd never heard of Doctor Who before - it's slight, but how much can you really pack into only 22 pages of story? - but for fans of the show who need a fix in this regular-seasonless year, this is a faithful, intelligent addition to the canon.
Doctor Who: Room With A Deja View is released this Wednesday by IDW Publishing.