Doctor Tomorrow #3 after Valiant’s long hiatus returns this week with a head-turning issue. But is it enough for readers to get back on track after the pandemic hold? In a comic about subtle context, it just might be possible in the multiversal lotus.
15-year old Bart Simms encounters his older superhero self, Dr. Tomorrow, who needs help defeating his archenemy Hadrian. So Tomorrow recruits Bart and (somehow) the Valiant Universe to stop him from destroying their world.
Doctor Tomorrow #3 Story
Doctor Tomorrow #3 wastes no time when it comes to driving the plot forward. Yet it’s still somewhat strange how the Valiant superheroes are on board with this. It’s very sudden, and they might come across as mere plot elements than characters. But no one can deny that the battle with Hadrian isn’t essential considering what happened in the first issue. Yet it’s how the Doctor fights against Hadrian that reveal their motives. Like when Bart’s failing in his attack, the Doctor holds him by the neck to continue. Neela is right to be surprised by this to the point of asking Hadrian’s story. Because as it turns out, these events happened before; something that Bart pieces together from just Hadrian’s words.
Alejandro Arbona has this context serve a dual purpose, both as character-driven exposition and as Bart’s Hero’s Journey. In this way, Hadrian serves as a helper and unwitting mentor the way he was with Dr. Tomorrow. One that drives both Barts into the Abyss, but only the Doctor ends up metaphorically dead. Bart, however goes through the rebirth and transformation phase. It’s a pretty interesting dynamic despite the series rushing this formula.
Jim Towe keeps up a very good art style in Doctor Tomorrow #3 that keeps up with the pace of Arbona’s writing. The simple act of making subtle changes creates great dynamics in big action scenes. Yet it’s the facial features that make the biggest impact from Neela’s reaction to Dr. Tomorrow’s actions to the faces of Hadrian and Tomorrow as they get burned. It practically says everything about the revelations of these two and how ugly their ambitions are. Compare that to some of the volumes of character outlines of characters who barely even speak.
The colors by Diego Rodriguez and Kelly Fitzpatrick meanwhile have just the right amount of contrast to make sure the emotional scenes have weight. Otherwise, without Towe’s inking, some of the colors would blend.
Clayton Cowles’ lettering, for the most part, mirrors the artwork of Doctor Tomorrow #3. Some of the word marks combine color outlines to display the clash between the Doctor and Hadrian. Other wordmarks have weight with their size and texture that accent a punch to the face. Even the word balloons flow nicely between where to guide the reader although there are a few minor errors like when the Eternal Warrior speaks up with a command that previous panels display come from Doctor Tomorrow.
Doctor Tomorrow #3 Has Its Strengths
Doctor Tomorrow #3 is not a perfect issue, especially if you take it at face value. With a plot that moves for its own sake, it’s easy to overlook how the series interweaves a narrative. The subtle writing techniques and changes in art hold a decent amount of weight when it comes to the decisions Bart makes. This series shows how the formula of the Hero’s Journey can be more than just a superhero formula. Self-reflection is an important theme, one the absurdity of superheroes uses to its finest.
What do you think? Is this series in too big a rush, or is there something to all of this? Leave your thoughts in the comments.