Review by Ian Keogh
Vortex Butterflies begins with a massive bombshell, dropped just when we’re appreciating the return of Gabby’s notebook pages. Once past the charm of Giorgia Sposito’s illustrations, the text is Gabby talking about the death of her best friend Cindy Wu, who’s also been travelling with the Doctor. It’s actually a clever reference to the story ending Breakfast at Tyranny’s, nonetheless emotionally shocking for the corpse being Cindy’s clone. Over the opening pages Nick Abadzis also clears up a minor mystery remaining from that story as he starts his new journey in the aftermath, the first chapter being set-up resolving some matters, and introducing others. There’s a guest star, who interestingly reveals a rare weakness in that fantastic Sposito art as she’s not able to capture the likeness, and it’s a chapter where the Doctor learns some truths he’s been avoiding.
The title story occupies the entire graphic novel, and it’s where Abadzis gets to grips with the changes Gabby’s experienced. She’s been relatively sparing when it comes to using new abilities, which may be in character, but is a shame, as they generate such a neat visual effect. While she’s puzzled, so is the Doctor, aware there’s something anomalous affecting the Tardis, but he’s unable to isolate what that is. In a subtle way that also reflects what the other cast members are going through, reaching for something that’s missing without exactly knowing what that is. Another guest star helps out, and it’s again strange that Sposito draws them so inconsistently when she’s so good at capturing David Tennant’s likeness as the Doctor.
The longer ‘Vortex Butterflies’ continues, the more incredible it becomes. Abadzis reintroduces themes he’s previously addressed, but with devastating effect. Because we like David Tennant’s Doctor, with his bluster and his amusing comments, we tend to overlook how he can be when needs must, and this is despite Abadzis having Gabby and others point this out in most of the Doctor Who stories he’s written. It’s a heavy emotional thread running alongside the standard Timelord technobabble that creates the urgency, and it leaves some questions unanswered. However, as the opening pages proved and the final page shows, Abadzis is very thorough and doesn’t ever forget a plot. Facing Fate: The Good Companion concludes his run.