Happy New Year to all! To kick off this new year, I took a look at Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor, a comic based off the BBC show which has an annual Christmas special to ring in the newest season. It made me think, considering the newest season of Doctor Who is on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to review the comic.
For a little background if you are unfamiliar with the Doctor Who cannon, Doctor Who is a Timelord, an alien with two hearts, who can travel through space and time using a T.A.R.D.I.S. (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) cleverly disguised as a police box that’s bigger on the inside. The Doctor can reincarnate into different forms male or female (hence the number associated with the doctor) and often travels with human companions on adventures to different time periods and planets.
I consider myself a big fan of Doctor Who, though I admit I haven’t read one of their comics. Reading the Thirteenth Doctor’s team-up with the Tenth Doctor was a perfect introduction considering it returns to the beloved 2007 Doctor Who episode, Blink. On top of winning several awards, this episode was rated second best Doctor Who story ever by readers of Doctor Who Magazine. Several publications praised its ability to weave timelines, merge the horror and sci-fi genre, and delight with strong performances all around.
The thing about the T.A.R.D.I.S. is that it tends to take you where you need to be rather than necessarily where you want to be. For the Thirteenth Doctor’s companions Ryan, Yaz, and Graham, though their intended destination was Woodstock 1969, they ended up in late 1960s London instead – the place the Tenth Doctor and his companion at the time, Martha, were stranded during the episode, Blink. In this comic just like in Blink, the Tenth Doctor’s T.A.R.D.I.S. was stuck in 2007, and they have to reach out to people in 2007 from 1969 in order to bring the T.A.R.D.I.S. back.
Now in 1969, the Thirteenth Doctor is in a predicament. She does not wish to wrongfully influence her former self, but she must also try to understand what has brought her to this destination. She crosses paths with Martha Jones – a meeting which adds more depth to the Martha-Doctor relationship – an aspect I enjoyed because I think Martha gets a bad wrap. In the context of the show she is easily seen as a rebound from a previous companion. She gets ignored and treated poorly even though she is often the one keeping the Doctor on track.
As Ryan, Yaz, and Graham track down the Tenth Doctor running around with his timey-whimey detector machine (yeah, that’s really what he calls it) and while the Thirteenth Doctor follows the lead at Martha’s shop, both parties overlook the creature they cannot see, the thing that lurks in the shadows – the beings known as The Weeping Angels. The Weeping Angels in the words of the Tenth Doctor are ancient beings that “can zap you back through time and make you live to death.” They turn to stone when people look at them, and can only move when no one can see them. The concept of making someone suddenly live in the past to never return to their present is a chilling and sad one. It is what made “Blink” such a powerful, gut-punching episode.
I love that the writer, Jody Houser combined such a beloved episode in this comic. I am interested in continuing the story. I do wonder if it leans to heavily upon the reliance of the Tenth Doctor’s fan base for readership. This comic does have a learning curve to it, and the more you have watched Doctor Who – particularly the seasons with the Tenth Doctor and the Thirteenth, the more likely you will enjoy the comic. It is, most assuredly – a comic for the fans. It possesses all the aspects people love about the show – the fun dialogue and characterization, the time period adventure, and of course – the wibbly-wobbly timey-whimey stuff. The panels are minimalist design, but even in the minimalism, the panels still possess lots of personality. If you are a Doctor Who fan, this comic will likely get you excited to consume more Doctor Who, and will make you want to revisit the old episodes that you love.