Something’s not right with Tony.
Ooh, it’s one of those! We like those, they’re fun from the word go.
You know the type of story – our heroes wake up separated, and everything’s wrong. They can’t remember where they are, who they are, what they do. All they know is that something’s wrong.
When the usually dapper Tenth Doctor wakes up unshaven and down among the deadbeats, being called ‘Smithy’ by a fellow denizen of the streets, with no idea who he really is, or of anything else, the mystery’s baked right into the premise. Why can’t he remember? Where is he? What’s happened to him to make this the way of things?
Gabby’s back in her family’s restaurants, dropping plates, taking abuse from customers and, as it turns out, always being offered the opportunity to go mall-shopping. Cindy appears to be in a loving relationship with Cleo, from waaaaay back in the Year 2 arc, but has lost her dog. Her dog that looks strangely familiar from the end of that same year.
There are clues that things are more wrong even than they appear along the way – Gabby has a notebook in which she’s left herself instructions, as though she’s in a role playing game and has left herself cheats to get through situations faster than trial and error allows. And then there are the wraith hounds.
Sure, wraith hounds. Fairly unspeakable things. Think the Ghostbusters Terror Dogs, then stick a Sarlacc pit in their mouth, just for extra nightmare value (thank you soooo very much, Valeria Favoccia and Giorgia Sposito, artists on this issue). The wraith hounds prowl the streets near to the mysterious, new Department Store that is the heavily-referenced potential Source of Wrongness in the world.
Nick Abadzis, picking up the threads he left dangling at the end of the Year 2 arc, shows us how the Doctor gained a third companion, and changes the tension down the gears from the end of the last arc. This story begins like a Twilight Zone tale, long on wrongness, but light on intensity, which is useful, because after the universe-endangering climax of Year 2, we actually need a breath of less highly-strung air to get our heads back in the Tenth Doctor’s game.
That said, Abadzis is not about to let us get too much of our breath back – the feeling of oddness, of wrongness is palpable from panel one here, and a couple of points ramp up the weird – Cindy and the new companion find each other, and from that moment, Cindy begins to break down the walls of weird as he experiences them, only to find an even weirder reality underneath, including what looks like a room full of dead bodies.
All of which look appallingly familiar.
When the Doctor accidentally drops in on her, there’s running and panic and wraith-hounds and a final single-panel page that will unscrew your mind at the hinges, and which takes the sense of this world being wrong to whole new levels.
The first issue of Year 3 takes us from the imminent universal danger of the end of Year 2 and springs us back into the kind of ‘what-the-hell?’ territory of Abadzis’ own ‘arena of terror’ storyline from the mid-section of that Year 2 arc, only darker because there’s an urban reality to the supposed fiction of this world, a sharper edge to the threats and the illusions – rather than simple amnesia, there’s a dark vindictiveness to the scenarios our Tardis crew encounter here, a kind of Bizarro-Stepford quality, that makes us want to read on. The artwork is vivid, the backgrounds in particular having a boldness in the colours used and the well-delineated built environments, and that final page is mind-blowing.
The tone of the first issue of Year 3 is very different from the end of Year 2, but the Doctor and his friends are off to a cracking new start. By the end of this issue, we’re off on a thoroughly new adventure, but one that promises much in terms of creepiness and nightmare daydreams.
Allonsy, people, the Tenth Doctor’s back, and he’s in a world of weird.
The Tenth Doctor #3.1 is released January 11th 2017. Find out more and order your copy here.
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