Or – “OooOOOooo…Â OOOOoooo… Wah Wah Waaah Dum De Dum Doo Wah…”
The Doctor has traveled the length and breadth of the universe, from the Big Bang to the Vanishing Point, from Old New York to New New York, from London to the Bay.Â It’s Doctor, yo Doctor, he’s the Doctor, go Doctor, the Daleks can go and play!
(Can’t touch this!)
Previously, on Doctor Who:Â There once was a planet called Gallifrey, in the constellation Kasterbourous, where lived a race of enlightened men and women who mastered the vagaries of temporal travel, and thus became known as the Time Lords.Â In the Mountains of Solace and Solitude stands the citadel of the Time Lords, creatures of great wisdom and truly awful hats, who tend to take their designations not from family tradition, but from what they do.Â The Master.Â The Meddling Monk.Â The Rani (female counterpart of a Rajah, in case y’all were wondering.)Â The War Chief.Â The Inquisitor.Â The Valeyard.Â The Castellan.Â Susan.Â (Perhaps that last one isn’t the best example…)Â And, most famous of all, the Time Lord who “makes people better,” the occasionally brilliant man known only as The Doctor.Â Now in his tenth incarnation (Time Lords have the ability to regenerate multiple bodies for multiple lifetimes) he travels the universe in his TARDIS, faithful companion Martha Jones by his side, last survivor of a species whose intellect was only outweighed by their arrogance…
We begin with a Ben Templesmith-drawn Tardis floating in empty space, with the Doctor burying his nose in some sort of Quantum Mechanics text, while Martha searches for milk for her tea.Â It’s a cute little scene, as she wakes him from his nerd-reverie, and they head off for parts unknown in search of a “semi-skimmed, pasteurised, lovely pint of Earth cow juice,” only to land (surprise, surprise) on a strange alien world.Â You’d think that Martha at least would have learned.Â They end up in a long series of corridors, filled with paintings of creatures, each one speaking quietly in the darkness.Â The Doctor explains that he knows what this is, that this is the closest thing that the planet (called Gratt, or near enough to it) has to a cemetery, the last words of the Grattites held forever.Â No one is allowed to show emotion on this little planet, which makes Martha sad, until she finds a portrait of Grayla, the Grattite who told the Doctor of this place.Â He’s upset to find his old acquantance dead, and sets off in search of her grave, in the hopes of figuring things out (in a cute touch, I think he’s carrying the umbrella favored by his Seventh incarnation.)
Both Doctor and companion run into difficulties (his a giant-emotion-vampire, hers a need to listen to the pictures and move them about, putting unrequited lovers side by side, and righting other injustices) before the Gratt police take him in for showing too much emotion.Â The fact that The Doctor (especially THIS Doctor) ever tried to get by in a place where emotion is outlawed is frankly hysterical, and the cops’ reactions to his outbursts are entertaining as heck.Â The Doctor discoves how Grayla died (she somehow called up the emotion vampire) and realizes that it must have gone after the only source of emotions on the planet: Martha.Â In a very clever moment, he throws himself onto the mercy of the creature, outpouring 10 lifetimes of sorrow, joy, confusion, and lunacy until the creature grows so large that it bursts.Â In the end, he gives all the credit to Grayla, making her the hero she SHOULD have been to her people, and #10 and Martha set off again into the timestream…
This is a very good story, and (for once) I’m not at all worried about it’s canonicity or it’s place in the world.Â It could have taken place at anytime during season 3 or 4 of “Doctor Who” and that’s fine.Â It’s a nice showcase for Martha, and especially plays off the strengths of the David Tennant Doctor.Â Leah Moore (daughter of Alan, natch) and John Reppion deliver a script that is simply and elegant, and Ben Templesmith’s art is manages to capture David Tennant and Freema Agyeman without being slavishly photorealistic.Â Doctor Who comics are notoriously an odd lot (remind me to tell you about the one where Seventh Doc companion Ace is blowed up on panel, in complete contradiction to other licensed probably-non-canonical media) and this issue is no exception, but it is a good read, and pretty to boot.Â Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery earns a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars,Â as well as giving me my Doctor Who fix for the duration…Â Let’s hope IDW can keep this streak of quality rolling in the new ongoing series.
You know, I was astounded when I found out the secret of the TARDIS ‘warping’ sound effect: BBC sound department’s manipulation of a house-key irritating some taught piano strings.
Just thought I’d share that with you.