Last night I read the Eleventh Doctor’s first volume of collected comics, After Life. In it he picks up companion Alice Obiefune, whose life has fallen apart, and together they have some very Doctory adventures.
I’ve read the first installment of this book, the first issue of Eleven’s run, three times now, and it just keeps getting better.
It begins with the funeral of Alice’s mother. Every panel is shades of gray, like Alice’s life. Everything she cares about has faded away, leaving her numb and colorless.
And then the Doctor bursts into her life, full of bright energy and color, and nothing is ever the same again.
I’ve been reading a lot of comics lately, DW and Marvel and a scattering of other things, so I’ve looked at a lot of art. The art’s job is to carry the story, set the scene, even color the mood. Likenesses vary, and clarity, and attractiveness; some I like, some not so much, but for the most part the art is invisible. Like the words it creates an image in the reader’s mind and then vanishes.
The art in this issue is some of the most effective I’ve seen.
Not just the gray, and the color the Doctor brings. Alice’s face is incredibly expressive: her grief, her doubt, every emotion clear as if it were spelled out in words. The story is about emotion, and the art brings those emotions powerfully to the fore. Even for the mysterious character at the end, one of the most alien beings we’ve seen in Doctor Who, feelings are crystal clear.
It’s a good story too, a great arc. The rest of the book isn’t bad, but its beginning remains the best of everything.