Tony sings a song of suicide.
What do you do when your friends like you so much they’re prepared to save you from yourself? Prepared to die, so you don’t have to?
It’s a question the Doctor’s faced a handful of times in his lives, and relatively recently in New Who times, he’s shown the self-awareness to make us sure it’s a deliberate thing he does. ‘I’ve taken lives. I got worse, I got clever. Manipulated people into taking their own.’ Davros spent two whole episodes wittering on about the Doctor’s ‘Children of Time,’ the people he turned into living weapons so he would never have to make the ultimate sacrifice, or so he could walk away with his conscience unstained.
When people will sacrifice themselves to save you, you carry a burden of responsibility not to trigger them unless you absolutely need to.
The Eleventh Doctor has got that moment wrong with Alice Obiefune. He’s been increasingly horrible and exclusionary to her over the course of the second year of his adventures in Titan Comics. And yes, his intentions were good, and they weren’t to have her sacrifice herself, but that’s the thing with people. Just when you think you’ve got them all figured out, they go and double-cross you and nip off back to the Time War, determined to save you from the burden of doing something horrible by doing it themselves, so you can stay innocent. So you can keep your optimism about the universe intact. So you don’t turn to your own personal dark side.
Which is how Alice finds herself in the Time War, facing a positive Christmas Special of dangers – the Overcaste who aren’t Overcaste, and what they really are. The people newly determined to stop her doing what she wants to do. The person keen to get the hell out of…well, hell, essentially, thanks to what she wants to do. And the gods of course – the Cyclors, pan-dimensional god-beings of the Overcaste, looming over the skies of the Time War and crushing flotillas of Time Lords like King Kong crushes fighter jets.
All in all, it’s not a good day to be Alice.
This issue follows on directly from #2.11, pushing on past that cliff-hanger point and driving Alice to grab a ticking box of tricks and run away, determined to use it herself before anyone else has to – a noble sentiment, in that the user will apparently die when they use it.
As ultimate doomsday weapons go, the one that Si Spurrier has developed over this and the previous issue is a fascinating example of the breed. You could call it a reality bomb, inasmuch as it taps into the collective unconsciousness of an entire species, and allows you to essentially reprogram what ‘everybody knows’ about their universe. When you’re dealing with a species of god that feeds on its connection to its followers, Spurrier deliciously delivers us atheism as a weapon of mass destruction – severing the link between the species should at least in theory allow the gods to naff off into a higher dimension and leave the believers desolate at the verifiable reality with which they’ve been left.
At least, that’s how it should work.
What actually happens is rather more Doctor Who than Alice could ever have anticipated, and it probably means the end of everything – because…well, why wouldn’t it? The idea of complete chronal meltdown brings with it not only the possibility of all the timelines we think we know being shredded and interwoven, it also drags us back to the thought of The Then And The Now, the creature that supposedly destroyed its own timeline and cut itself loose from causality. The threads of the Eleventh Doctor’s second year are beginning to pull together and to make some sense, despite their seeming randomness. Complete chronal meltdown also lets Simon Fraser go into fabulous semi-hippie overdrive in terms of the final panel, as reality gets trippy and almost like primitive 80s 3D. Kudos also goes to colourist Gary Caldwell on panels like that. In fact, the duo deliver great work throughout this issue – the panels immediately after Alice’s triggering of what’s probably the end of any sense in the universe are excellent, and, as if from nowhere, there’s a cameo appearance by a character from the early 70s that will make Classic fans punch the air. It’s technically gratuitous, but we’re suckers for a gratuitous 70s cameo, and Titan knows it, so we forgive them for pushing our buttons because ‘Oh my God, the cameo!’
Does the plot advance a lot in this issue? Yes, it does, but you might have to read it twice to appreciate quite how far, because most of this issue is dialogue and hiding. Some of the dialogue and hiding is superb in and of itself, with Spurrier and Fraser’s collective creation of the villains of the piece last time paying dividends here in gloomy corridors, the villains’ taunting dialogue especially making for some of the nastiest chase scenes in Who comic-book history, and possibly in Who history of any kind, and with one escape and Alice’s triggering of the chronal meltdown, we’ve probably advanced far further than is immediately apparent.
Grab yourself a timeline in which you own issue #2.12 and get value for your money in terms of broken partnerships, double-dealing, and the occasionally terrible cost of being a friend of the Doctor’s. And the shredding of every timeline everywhere, because, y’know – no pressure.
Tony lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk