Two Doctors and two alien threats mean four times the fun in Titan Comics Doctor Who The 13th Doctor Year 2. The third issue is released this week and the inevitable happens as the 10th Doctor meets his future. Or the 13th meets her past, depending on how you look at it.
It is a complicated story with a lot of back and forth but the writer Jody Houser has got Doctor Who under her skin. All of the elements of a classic duel Doctor story-line are here with the added bonus of two of the best foes of any era. As the action builds can the creators keep up?
Adventures in Time
The 10th Doctor and his future ‘fam’ have come, literally, face to face with a Weeping Angel. Meanwhile the 13th Doctor and Martha take flight from an army of Auton. All in all, the Doctor is having a busy day.
This issue sees the pace increase dramatically from previous issues. This is a standard turnaround for this type of Doctor Who story where the tension is slowly built to introduce the villains. Then comes the running, the shouting, and finally the reveal of the villains goal. It’s a classic four part Doctor Who story structure, although there is no motive in this issue. That has been left for future chapters.
Houser has a firm grip on the different characters from each of the time periods. The interactions between old and new are perfectly balanced although the 13th Doctor has an energy more akin to her past counterpart. It’s as if she is feeding off the vitality of her youth while maintaining the characteristics that she has developed. People will still recognise Jodie Whitaker in the speech that Houser scripts but the story is definitely more 10th Doctor.
The highlight of this issue involves the 10th Doctor’s discovery of the TARDIS, which is clearly a future version. The child like excitement of the character is reminiscent of Sarah Jane Smiths’ encounter with the time ship in School Reunion. There is a sense of awe, of wonder, and of longing.
Unfortunately this whole scene overshadows the Fam’s escape from the Weeping Angel and reduces the scary threat to something more comical. The intimidation of the Angels comes across much better later in the issue but surprisingly the Auton threat seems greater.
Drawing the Cast Together
There is a simplicity of form to much of the art work, with only a few backgrounds containing complex detail. This is because Roberta Ingranata is able to represent the characters with a minimum number of lines, almost like a caricature but without the comical exaggeration. She captures the essence of the character and relays this to the reader, rendering each cast member in a unique way. The general shapes of the cast are enough to identify who is depicted.
This simplicity makes the comic easier to read. The audience is able to immediately identify who is in each panel and is therefore not wasting time trying to work out which character they are following. This became a problem with some of BOOM! Studios Buffy comics last year where big reveals were dampened by lack of immediate identification. That is not a problem here. Ingranata’s character work is perfect.
There is also a certain dynamism to the pages. Not necessarily with the depiction of movement but just in the presence of the characters. The Doctor specifically holds the attention on the page, giving the reader a focus with which to follow the story. Each page of the comic has one aspect of the famous Time Lord and it is this figure that leads the directional reading.
Design and Color
The design of the page is such that the reader zones in on the Doctor in the opening panel and then weaves their way through the page, jumping from panel to panel in a search for the Gallifreyan. The placement of the speech by letterers Richard Starkings and Sarah Hedrick facilitate this movement. There is an easy to follow flow in this comic which helps to build the pace of the story.
The colorist, Enrica Eren Angiolini, picks out each iteration of the Time Lord and represents them through alternating color palettes. Each page that is dominated by one Doctor or the other has a theme that matches their general appearance.
The 10th Doctor is quite subdued with muted hues. There are a number of browns and deep blues with a serious, dark purple color flowing through his backgrounds. The 13th Doctor has much more color and vibrancy. Backgrounds feature an array of color, a range across the spectrum, much like the Doctor’s own clothes. It’s as if the very environment that the Doctor enters twists to fit them and their personality.
With the final episode on the most recent series now out in the world, almost any story is going to have difficulty following in the wake. Luckily for readers of the Titan Comic, Jody Houser is exceptional at writing Doctor Who. She captures the characteristics and mannerisms of the TARDIS crew but more importantly she brings the tone of the series to the pages of the comic.
With wonderfully fun and entertaining art work, this second comic season of the 13th Doctor is a great read for any fan. Not everything quite fits together yet but there is no indication that it won’t in the end: there is a definite feeling that this is heading somewhere fantastic.