Now this is the Doctor Who monthly comic I've been wanting to read.
After last issue's disappointingly lighthearted start to the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who comics at IDW Publishing, we finally have a proper story that captures both the look and feel of the television series. Part One of the three-part "Ripper's Curse" storyline features the Eleventh Doctor and his current companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, traveling to England in September of 1888 in the hopes of attending the debut of the Football League. Of course, this is Doctor Who, so the TARDIS crew instead ends up in Whitechapel, London during the notorious murdering spree of serial killer Jack the Ripper.
Series writer Tony Lee turns in a sharp script here, with references to Johnny Depp's portrayal of Inspector Frederick Abberline in the 2001 Ripper film From Hell, along with Amy and Rory taking on the aliases of Miss Marple (Yes, an Agatha Christie shout-out) and Inspector Clouseau respectively. One particularly cheeky reference comes when Sir Charles Warren looks at the Doctor's psychic paper and perceives Rory to be the Earl of Upper Leadworth, supposedly the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous literary character Sherlock Holmes. Now, the actual inspiration for Sherlock Holmes was Dr. Joseph Bell, a surgeon involved in several police investigations, including (Wait for it) the Ripper murders. Lee also seems to have captured the voice of Smith's Doctor faster than he did David Tennant's and gave the ending of the story's first part a very traditional cliffhanger.
The artist for this issue is Richard Piers Rayner, known for some stunning work on such titles as Hellblazer and the Doctor Who Magazine Seventh Doctor comic strip entitled "Evening's Empire," which began in November 1991 and then remained unfinished until finally arriving two years later in the magazine's 1993 Autumn Holiday Special. Rayner produces some lovely work here as well, creating the moody atmosphere necessary for this type of story. His depictions of the characters are typically photorealistic, which makes it somewhat jarring when Rayner's art suddenly ends after page nineteen and is replaced with Horacio Domnigues for two pages and then a third artist, Tim Hamilton, on the final page. Hamilton is apparently the artist for the next issue, so it seems this issue is unfortunately all we'll get to see of Rayner's return to the world of Doctor Who.
Don't let that discourage you from picking this up, though. If you're in the mood for a solid Doctor Who comic book story, "Ripper's Curse" is...well...just what the doctor ordered.