Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Volume 2
Writing - 8.5/10
Art - 6.5/10
Overall - 8.1/10
User Review( votes)
Writer: Jody Houser
Artists: Rachael Stott, Giorgia Sposito, and Roberta Ingranata
Colorist: Enrica Eren Angiolini
Publisher: Titan Comics
Maturity Rating: All ages
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
The Doctor and friends face an impending villain that spans different decades. From the 1500s to the modern era, a true enemy arises that only The Doctor herself can outwit.
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Volume 2
Phasing in from another timestream, Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Volume 2 has landed. On this occasion, the TARDIS touches down in the 1500s during the time of the Guelder Wars, a period of history that involved internal strife between dukes over land. It was a war of heavy skirmishes within Dutch countries that we know today to be collectively the Netherlands. The setting itself is laid out by the Doctor’s current companions, Yaz, Graham, and Ryan. Much to the chagrin of the Doctor, they are well-versed in the time period, due to a podcast titled “Hidden Human History”. The Doctor expresses perturbation, noting that they shouldn’t believe everything they listen to.
Sure enough, in true Doctor Who fashion, we find that the area they’ve landed is not merely home to squabbling dukes in a wartime period. It also has a heaping of rumoured demon sightings that have been cropping up as of late.
Volume 2 is a jam-packed story that ebbs and flows with the quality of the most recent television series. The writer has nailed the nature of interactions in terms of humor and dynamic. The likability of Graham is ever-prominent; the gutsiness and intelligence of Yaz and Ryan are on display. And, as ever, the Doctor is eccentrically brilliant in her mannerisms.
Our premise sets up a contained story of demons and parlays into an investigation across different periods of time. We get a return to the comic of the time-travelling duo of Schulz and Perkins, whose dry tone and no-nonsense attitude offsets our heroes perfectly. The flavour on display in this volume indicates a well-researched writer. Jody Houser, as the new ongoing writer, understands the beats that a good Doctor Who story should hit and immaculately gives it the feeling of a feature-length episode. Jody’s background alone speaks volumes and her work can be viewed on Comixology.
The largest compliment I can give is to the dialogue present; it certainly evokes shades of Jodie Whittaker’s cadence and has a tonal consistency with the Doctor as a whole.
Visually, this meets expectations. The characters are reminiscent of their life counterparts, with the odd strange contortion of facial expressions. To the eye, certain panels show a layer of grimace in each of the characters’ faces, as though they are strained. It is not in keeping with any struggle they are experiencing; it seems to be a choice on the part of the artist. Certainly, there is realism in the character portrayals and the monster design is suitably grotesque.
The backdrops with dark use of color are suitably moody to the nature of this current Doctor run. From Jodie’s most recent debut series, the camera, lighting and overall tone have shifted to that of a darker mood. What the artists put to the pages here clearly reflects this. Giorgia Sposito, Rachael Stott, and Roberta Ingranata each lent their talents to this issue. Their artwork shows a faithful tonal choice for the current tv series.
While it is faithful to the current series, I can’t say if it is stylistically the right choice for a comic book of this nature. Potentially controversial to say, but the Doctor and her companions at this time would be better suited with a lighter palette and more brightly-coloured world. It would complement the turn of pace when they encounter aberrations such as the demons if there were a sense of relative tranquility before meeting them. This is not to say that the comic overall should only stray towards saccharine. It is more a declaration of ways in which color can enhance storytelling.
I feel an excitement with the prospect of what is to come with the comic. The short-term investment on it has been rewarding. It is, conceptually, a great extension of the new Doctor’s persona and what makes her tick. Leanings into the strength of the television series are welcome with the team dynamic that the show has already established. A heavy emphasis on the new time-travelling duo as pseudo-rivals along the way would be wise. Their initial introduction has these first issues told as if they were a crossover between Doctor Who and The X-Files.
This starting point has illustrated that there will be new challenges for the Doctor to face in this regard. Thankfully, Jody Houser has a strong grasp of who the Doctor is. She, additionally, has a plethora of comic experience to bolster it. For the time being, the art is the only factor in which I can see need for improvement. Strange, gurning faces of characters are enough to take you out of the spirit of the comic. For the future, this will be a note of contention until there is a sense that the expressions match those of a real-life person.
Overall, this is still early days and there is still a high ceiling for our favourite Time Lord.
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor: Volume 2 is a stepping stone, hopefully to a brighter tomorrow.
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