writer: Rich Johnston
artists: Eric J and Kris Carter
Characters living backwards make my head hurt. At least
Merlin and Benjamin Button have the decency to only age
in reverse. The alien Tx in IDW's Doctor Who: Room with
a Deja View truly lives backward, greeting the Doctor
with a happy but resigned "Goodbye!"
So writer Rich Johnston is determined to make the reader work a little bit. To his credit, the story, a strange sort of murder mystery set in a galactic quarantine zone, works pretty well, once you resign yourself to reading some sections backwards. And maybe sideways.
The Doctor picks up a distress signal, just when he's at his loneliest. Armed with his cell phone, he arrives at a conglomeration of space ships and stations, a gathering that has cut itself off from a plague that can even be carried through electronic communication. Thus the Doctor utters a very Doctor aside, "How am I going to organize a flashmob now?"
In quarantine he's quickly identified as a Time Lord, and the local authorities need his help in solving that murder. Actually, it's not a whodunit; it's a whyhedunitbackwards thing. We saw the crime up front, they know who did it and he confessed anyway - but he's a Counter, and no one can quite communicate with him. Of course, the Doctor is quite brilliant, you know.
Johnston absolutely has the rhythm of David Tennant down. It's quite easy to hear the actor spouting this dialogue, and artist Eric J captures the body language as well. At times, the art seems a little over-done resulting in a Tennant that hasn't eaten in a few weeks, but the sheer pop of Johnston's story carries it along.
Even though you have to read a section in reverse, it's still a fun ride.
It also strides between old-school and new-school, at least with the art. The main authority figures definitely would have made goofy costumes on the old show, but for the most part the alien design reminds me of the "Time Twister" stories in the British 2000 A.D. comics.
IDW has been throwing some nice Doctor Who one
shots and mini-series our way, and they've all been good
at feeding the jones for more while we wait for the TV specials
to resume. Perhaps they should just commit to an ongoing
and follow Marvel's Spider-Man plan of rotating creative
teams; if they would, this creative team of Johnston and
J should definitely be on the roster.