Tony goes shopping.
Nick Abadzis gives good weird.
Don’t get me wrong, Nick Abadzis gives good lotsofthings, but if you’re looking for weird otherworlds, Abadzis’ll do you a dozen and throw in a couple of Twilight Zones for free.
His latest Tenth Doctor story is very good weird. Stuck in the Department Store of the Damned, or rather around its peripheries with unusual cravings to go get their retail therapies on, the Doctor’s woken up homeless, befriended another hobo, and been chased by wraith hounds – which admittedly sounds like Thursday for him. But Gabby’s grown up and older as a waitress, and given up her drawing, while Cindy’s settled down into finally out domestic bliss with Cleo, the one-time hunter-down of alien artefacts for profit, who’s been on both sides of the Doctor’s attempts to stop the universe falling into the clutches of a former on-screen evil with a Toblerone fetish, and who came into her own in the arena of fear.
Meanwhile, Noob, the latest recruit to the Tardis…well, he’s kind of getting his Gaspode the Wonder-Dog on, wandering round the place on four legs, seeing things he probably shouldn’t see, and passing comment on them.
See? Very good weird.
But all of that was set up in issue #3.1. What do you do for a kicker? How do you turn the weird up to at least eleven and then snap the knob off, while still making some sort of sense and delivering a new thread of adventure for the Doctor and his friends to go off on.
How about having the Doctor – when last seen, turning into an Auton to defeat the imminent pouncing of the Wraith Hounds – suddenly being in a clean, chic Tardis shop, about to seal the deal on a new pink model as sales assistants Gabby and Cindy offer him a whole new toolbox of screwdrivers as a signing bonus (Here’s a thought – when Time Lords swap Tardises, is it like taking your PC to PC World? Can you get a back up disc of rooms, contents, pre-tuned symbiotic nuclei and suchlike, or do you have to start the relationship from scratch? Is it a case of upgrading hardware or breaking up?)
That’s how we start issue #3.2. Strap in, people, we’re off to the weirdness rodeo.
Along the pathway of this issue, you’ll the message that you should give up on your dreams because you’ll never be good enough, Fifty Shades of Vampire, and one of the coolest images in over two years of Tenth Doctoring at Titan – no, we’re not telling you what it is, but you’ll know it when you see it! – along with a proper old-style dogfight, the inadvertent reveal that Cleo’s well into Cindy too, an enemy that’s bigger on the inside, and also, disturbingly pink and tentacular, and a kidnap that’s going to complicate the bejesus out of matters in issue #3.3.
As to what’s actually going on? Well, Abadzis is one of those accomplished storytellers who bring you forward, give you a pay-off of ‘Oh, OK, so that’s what that was!’ – and then run away, giggling, leaving you chasing the next mystery in the chain he’s laying down behind him. And that’s what happens here – absolutely, we learn what was behind the Shopping Mall Of Malevolence and Sweet Dreams, and the Wraith Hounds, and Old Gabby, and Loved-Up Cindy, and Homeless Doctor, and we come to a point of understanding, in straightforward ‘Oh, OK, so that’s what that was!’ terms, what’s been going on for the last two issues – only for the final page to turn us on our head, and run away, and leave us realising how little we actually understand.
You want a TV analogue for that kind of storytelling? Simple – Terry Nation did that.
You may pause and take a deep breath here. That’s the league we’re in with Abadzis. Now, never let it be said we quivered with over-romanticism – Nation frequently did things that way round to get to the end of a page, or the end of an episode, and give himself the freedom to take things off in a new direction, so as to keep getting paid. But whatever the motivation, he delivered some of the most ‘Oh my freaking God, give me the next part!’ Who in the early decades of the show, and likewise, whatever Abadzis’ motivation, the man can get you to come along on his rodeos of crazy, and pay you off, and within the space of a page, make you run after his next instalment. It takes a certain class of writer to do that consistently, repeatedly, without wearying the audience and making them cynical. It’s practically impossible to be cynical about an Abadzis comic-book.
So by the end of issue #3.2, are we up for running off and pursuing the kidnapper, while still pondering precisely what the hell is going on? Oh hell yes. Do not mess with Nick Abadzis, he will scramble your mind. Let him – it’ll be good for you.
Now then, some words on Georgia Sposito, artist, and colourist Arianna Florean. If Abadzis gives good weird, what that inherently means is he gives insanely good artistic challenge, because when you’re melding realities and breaking realities and duplicating realities as Abadzis does here (we mentioned the whole ‘Strap in, we’re off the weirdness rodeo’ thing, right?), what you actually need is a TV show to do it in. You need live actors, constructed sets, hardware effects, lighting effects, and computer generated effects. That’s what you need to bring the doolalliness of stories like this to proper life.
We have Georgia Sposito and Arianna Florean.
Turns out, that’s all you really need.
Quite apart from one of the coolest images in over two years of Tenth Doctor comic-booking, there are fades here, there are light effects, there are big glass-smashing effects, there are companions riding dogs, there’s a combination dematerialisation-lift-off, with someone dragged across the floor by tentacles, there’s convincing husk-absorption – don’t ask, just buy it, you’ll see – there’s a chase rendered in mostly lines and light, and there are several entirely distinct physical settings, from the slick Tardis showroom to ye olde orange cave of bondage, to a garden environment. All of which is absolutely necessary if you’re going to fully appreciate the wonderful weirdness of Abadzis’ story. And all of which works.
Georgia Sposito and Arianna Florean, Geekbrothers and Nerdsisters. Give it up for the Magic Pencilwranglers.
And, in case we forgot to mention this, the Tenth Doctor looks like the Tenth Doctor in issues with these two in charge of the look. If that sounds like a frivolous thing, it really shouldn’t – For at least the first year, Titan’s artists had the hardest time capturing the conventional handsomeness of David Tennant in a way that actually looked like David Tennant.
We’re in year 3 now. Problem solved. Thank you, Titan.
If you haven’t caught up with the Tenth Doctor recently, go back, get issue #3.1, ponder who the hell Noob is, resign yourself to buying really quite a lot of Year 2, save up and get over it. But at the very least, get issue #3.1, and then this issue, because Abadzis, Sposito and Florean are taking us to the weirdness rodeo, and we’re loving it. No, patently, we have no idea where we’re going next, but the chase will probably be on to hunt down the kidnapper and their victim. Jump on board the Tenth Doctor’s Tardis with Year 3 – it’s going good places.
Weird good, but good.
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