Tony’s running down corridors.
At the end of the previous Tenth Doctor story, The Witch From The Well, there were revelations. Oooh, but there were revelations. Revelations all over the shop, there were. Some were classic Tennant-style revelations, going back to Ye Olde Darke Times, writer Nick Abadzis doffing his cap to the Russell T Davies days of sudden additions to Time Lord history. But there were also revelations with a somehow more threatening rumble to them, plucked from Abadzis’ own invention and previous Tenth Doctor comic-books at Titan. Revelations in a voice sounding uncannily like Gabriel Woolf’s. The Doctor’s relatively recent run-in with the Osirans, and particularly Anubis, son of Sutrekh (if you’re just tuning in, see what you’ve missed?) was left with a great big caveat at the end of it, with the Doctor promising to do a thing for the Osiran, and Anubis left to wait with the rejuvenated, slightly mechanised starlet Dorothy Bell for company and, to be fair, psychological balance.
Sicne which time, the Doctor’s been bombing round the universe, doing precisely diddly in the key of squat in terms of keeping his promise. There were rumblings at the end of The Witch From The Well that Anubis was getting a bit cheesed off with the waiting game.
This issue’s classic low-budget New Who, mostly confined to the Tardis itself. The Doctor decides to take Gabby and Cindy to New Orleans for the birth of jazz, so they can ‘chill their heels and really think.’
That…erm…doesn’t go entirely to plan, as an attack on the Tardis leads to all kind of bend me, shape me, any way you want me fun, or as Abadzis puts it, ‘something’s interfering with the relative continuum stabilizer…there are incredible pressures on the outer plasmic shell of the Tardis!’
What that actually means is that Cindy’s trapped in a Tardis corridor, opening doors and doing an awful lot of running, because the attack has led there to be some dimensional shenanigannery, meaning things from an altogether less pleasant elsewhere find themselves free in the Tardis corridors, and a tad peckish and cranky. In a way, this issue has similarities to the bizarrofest that was Journey To The Centre Of The Tardis, but relax – it’s much better than that. It’s also a kind of ultimate testament to the idea of Doctor Who as a whole lot of ‘running down corridors’ – in this case a single, apparently unending Tardis corridor full of nasties.
What becomes clear at the end of this issue though is that, irrespective of Dorothy’s calming influence, there’s been a disturbance in the ‘force’ of Anubis’ mind. Believe me when I tell you there’s a classic, shudder-down-the-spin final panel that promises great things for the next issue. While The Infinite Corridor is something of a ‘cheap episode’ of Who, Abadzis gives it enough oomph and rising peril to make it a fast read, while adding quite an impressive heaped tablespoon of techno-geekery along the way – ‘Engaging magnitudinal inhibitors!’ seems to be Who-speak for ‘pressed a magic button that stopped the walls and ceilings expanding forever!’
Given some of the recent Tenth Doctor stories, particularly those in the Arena of Death which tended to drag and lack a bit of a punch, Abadzis is clearly on an upswing in terms of hitting targets out of parks, because both The Witch From The Well and this issue dash along, picking up peril at almost every turn, giving the very Tenth Doctor sense of running from start to finish. So in the event that you lost a bit of focus on the Tenth Doctor stories when things went a bit Neanderthal, it’s time to shake yourself down, get over yourself and get back to your friendly neighbourhood comic store, because Things are happening that you’re not going to want to miss, and along the way, there’s some pacy peril and shouting and madness. Business as the best of usual for the Tenth Doctor, in fact.
Now let’s talk art and colour for a moment, because there are plenty of comic-books that are just fine, that deliver the visuals that help the story get from A-B and do their fundamental jobs.
The art here doesn’t fall into that category. In fact, while Abadzis’ story is good and punchy and delivers the running and peril and fun, it’s actually Elena Casagrande’s artwork that most immediately and positively impresses itself on your mind in this issue. From her initial spacescapes, through some gorgeous detailed Tardis-work to a risky but effective shudder technique that seems to blur the image your eyes see, to some bold diagonal page-divisions, Casagrande really announces her pedigree as an artist to watch here, in case there are any odd, lonely souls who haven’t been long convinced of this. Most especially though, check out the effects – both inside and out – of all the plasmic shell pressure – what she does to the Tardis in terms of pulling it like taffy against a beautiful skyscape is hugely impressive, and there are plenty of other moments of artistic joy too. She gets to retro-imagine a Tennant Tardis corridor, and delivers a style that’s consistent with the TV Tardis, but with a little of her own personality bolted on between the ‘round things.’ And the sudden revelation of what’s behind some of the doors she encounters actually tightens your chest if you come across is quickly – there’s a proper ‘bang’ moment of ‘Yaargh! What the hell is that?!’ which underlines Cindy’s journey as a character. A scene with the Doctor finding out what’s going on is exquisitely rendered too, Arianna and Azzurra Florean on colourwork duties switching from the Tardis bronzes and the creepy behind-door darkness to more watercolour washout beauty, much like the on-screen heart of the Tardis in the Matt Smith tale, and giving the sense of a genuinely different environment.
So – plenty of punch, plenty of madness and running in a kind of updated Edge of Destruction, with artwork that punches you in the eyes with pleasure and intelligent colourwork, all of it leading to a shudder down the spine and a walloping sense of anticipation for issue #2.11. As we say, if you’ve been drifting away from the Tenth Doctor in recent months, you’re going to want to strap right the hell back in, because things are building – Abadzis is on his game, Casagrande has never been better and the Floreans are extending their range and making Really Interesting Choices. You’re going to want to get issue #2.10. And then you might want to start practicing your ‘walk like an Egyptian dance.’ We’re just saying. Something’s a-coming. Read the final panel of this issue and tell us you don’t want to be part of it – if you dare!
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk