The new TARDIS crew find themselves embroiled in the greed and dastardly actions of a privileged, rich, Alien life form whose behavior does not impress The Thirteenth Doctor one bit.
Jodie Whittaker has made the role of The Doctor her own while at the same time drawing inspiration from all of the past incarnations. That ethos is evident in Titan Comics ongoing monthly Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor. The TARDIS and her crew have been faithfully adapted by the creators and flung headlong into an exotic adventure with new friends and new foes. Everything you love from the T.V. show is contained within these pages.
After rescuing fellow time traveller Perkins from certain death, the Doctor and her companions are shocked when he threatens to steal the TARDIS. However, The Doctor is not so easily intimated and intends to find out exactly what Perkins has been doing. And more importantly, who he has been doing it for.
This issue of The Thirteenth Doctor spends time engaging with the TARDIS crew and allows the reader to get to know what kind of woman The Doctor really is. It showcases all of the character elements that Jodie Whittaker has brought to the role; cheeky asides, expressive faces, quips, and the compassionate, trusting side that has made the character so charming. The confrontation with Perkins aboard the TARDIS allows writer Jody Houser to explore exactly who The Doctor has become in an entertaining and meaningful way. The whole scene is character driven, but it also moves the plot forward allowing the reader to discover elements of the greater story at the same time.
As the story glides along, the horrors of the back story are played out in short and subtle flashbacks while Perkins slowly realizes that not all hope is gone. Houser breaks up Perkins story so that the overall issue has an upbeat pace building to the suspenseful sequence near the end. This format works well for an issue that contains a lot of standing, or sitting, around in the TARDIS control room. At no point during the story do you feel weighed down by the exposition: the characters’ shine through giving each page a liveliness.
Rachael Stott is ideal for this Doctor and this story. She has fine, detailed line work that picks up on the nuances of the characters but she also revels in the over top expressions that the new Doctor loves to pull. Almost each page contains a new, and often comical, facial expression from The Doctor which expresses the cheeky, lively portrayal of the character from the series.
Stott keeps the narrative moving with fresh layouts and changing panel styles. She uses a lot of overlapping panels and characters that cross over the gutter; this gives the comic a fast pace because it feels like everything is happening so quickly, over the top of everything else. The pages where this doesn’t happen stand out and make you slow down, absorbing the dialogue at a much slower speed.
The warm, embracing atmosphere that radiates from this comic is down to the colorist Enrica Eren Angiolini. So much of this issue is awash with the orange glow produced in the TARDIS console room; it seeps out into the other panels and across the pages. With the fine line work by Stott, the color is very powerful and the first thing that you notice on each page. For most of the story, this is used to calm the reader down and create a safe environment. All of this starts to change towards the end of the issue when the threatening elements start to appear, and Angiolini’s colors reflect this change in atmosphere. It will be interesting to see how the color work progresses over the series.
The lettering team of Richard Starkings, Sarah Jacobs and John Roshell have a difficult time of blending the speech balloons into the artwork, especially with the vibrant colors, but they succeed in their craft. The dialogue and speech balloons are evenly placed within the panels and help the directional flow of the narrative. Each aspect of the creative process melds together to produce a smooth reading experience.
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor is a successful translation of the T.V. show as it captures not only the characteristics of the cast but also the general vibe of the series. The settings and aliens that they encounter are not exactly otherworldly; there is an element of ordinary about them yet through the eyes of the TARDIS crew everything is brand new and exciting. Where Houser and Stott succeed is in allowing the reader to experience everything through the cast and not observe everything as if they are outsides. The wonder is achieved because you feel you are actually there in the TARDIS or on the alien planet.
The characters are engaging, and the story is intriguing and new. The Thirteenth Doctor from Titan Comics soaks up the style and substance of the series and gives the reader more of the same. If you enjoyed the show, you will love this comic and be hooked for months to come. If you didn’t enjoy the series, there is nothing here that will change your mind but, then again, this comic has been produced for fans of the show.