Doctor Who: THE THIRTEENTH DOCTOR Year 2, #1 Review @ComicsTitan - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: THE THIRTEENTH DOCTOR Year 2, #1 Review @ComicsTitan

Tony tackles a crossover.

Written by Jody Houser.
Drawn by Roberta Ingranata.
Coloured by Enrica Angiolini.

In Blink, the first Weeping Angel story on TV, the Tenth Doctor and Martha are Angel-zapped back to London in 1969, and have to work their way forward in time with the help of Sally Sparrow and her comprehensive notes, in a prime example of Steven Moffat using time travel to retroactively affect the action. Wibbly wobbly, as he put it in that story, timey…something. We forget. Time flies when you’re a Doctor Who fan.

In the first tissue of Titan Comics’ Thirteenth Doctor range for 2020, Thirteen and the Fam find themselves also in London in 1969, the Tardis having sidestepped Woodstock (Well, wouldn’t you, if you thought you were going to have to deal with Graham O’Brien dressed like a hippy?) and mischievously bringing them there, even though it runs the risk of all sorts of temporal paradoxes.

The tone of the story, right from the off, is less bang, bang, bang than, for instance, much of the Moffat era, but channels the original brilliance of Blink and the timing beats of the Chibnall era to both make Thirteen believably interested in the danger of a Tardisless Tenth Doctor wandering around this time and space, and what can possibly be behind the Tardis bringing her back to this stomping ground now, and hold off any actual meeting between them until it becomes unavoidable. For the time being, and certainly for the page-count of this issue, there’s a traditional split up routine – the Fam sticking together and following the Tenth Doctor as he tries to get the infamous machine that goes ding when there’s Stuff and has the habit of boiling eggs at ten paces to actually go ding, rather than to just make unimpressive humming noises, while Thirteen steps out alone to track down Martha Jones, now, in a distinct parody of Rose with which, if she knew about it, she’d be mightily unimpressed, working in a clothes shop. A clothes shop in which something lurks. Lurks good and proper, we tell ya.

There’s a goosebumpy moment when Thirteen jingles the bell in Martha’s shop, swaps hair and style tips with her and her colleague Janice, and gets positively puppydog enthusiastic over some stripy socks (To be fair, who hasn’t done that?), because it’s the meeting of two greats, like the meeting of the Tenth Doctor and Sarah-Jane Smith in the early, pre-Tardis scenes of School Reunion. We’re sharing a happy secret with our current Doctor, and a glow of nostalgia from when she used to be a completely different person, traveling with this excellent companion.

We mentioned the Lurky McLurkerson in the shop, right?

Because that gets increasingly important towards the end of the issue, when, again in what feel like intensely conscious echoes of Rose, it’s Janice who stays behind to close up the shop. There’s a dusty stockroom, in which lurky things may lurk. There’s a scream. And then there’s silence in the stockroom. A silence underpinned moments later when Martha returns to the shop for a last word with Janice, only to get no response.

As the start of a story, it’s got a certain forced quality to it, this issue, which nevertheless brings the scent of Thirteenth Doctor authenticity to it. Something has made the Tardis come here, in spite of all the potential for multiple-Doctor complications. But we’re taking that at relatively face value in issue #1. There would of course be two ways to deal with the Tardis dropping you off in a time and a place where your previous self is striding about the place. You could, just conceivably, get the hell out of there, but Thirteen here is following a particular Time Lordy hunch that something’s just not right in London in 1969, which is as much justification of the adventure as is given here. There’s been quite some talk about the similarities between the Thirteenth Doctor and the Tenth in their jolly, happy-go-lucky exploring, with the darkness stuffed down deep, rather than worn on the sleeve like their respective predecessors. This issue takes the opportunity to have Graham point out some of the similarities – not the least of which is that both Doctors are occasionally barking mad.

In terms of the artwork, there’s a degree of ‘Never mind the faces, look at the backgrounds’ at play here – the Tenth Doctor, like the Fifth, has always been notoriously difficult to convincingly capture. Martha too has a note of notional capture but is mostly recognisable by her clothes and postures in this issue.

That said, the backgrounds are routinely gorgeous, with Thirteen’s console room arguably rendered more beautifully than TV cameras have ever yet managed, and several other locations delivered with equal precision, grandeur and colourful pleasure. Tower Bridge, Big Ben, lots of external London locations absolutely anchor the issue and the story it tells, allowing the likes of Martha’s workplace, Face Fashion, a Sixties solidity, and a shaded differentiation between the bright front of house and the gloomy stockroom. A narrated memory from Thirteen about the time when, exploring with Martha, she met the Angels works correspondingly better than it otherwise would have, by virtue of having the colour of the here and now bleached out of it.

Overall, Year 2, Issue #1 delivers a similar vibe to the opening of Series 12, though with fewer spies and more nostalgia. The Fam’s really coming together, the team structure’s by no means as flat as it sometimes seemed in Series 11, as the Thirteenth Doctor steps forward and lets her instincts lead. In some ways of course, there’s a different kind of nostalgia at work here to that in Spyfall – there’s a harking back to past eras, certainly, but Issue #1 examines those eras and their conventions with the new eyes of the Thirteenth Doctor. And while the cliffhanger here is more creepy and muted than full on ‘Ta-dah!’ it has that worrying, unsettling quality of an unanswered phone, as Martha fails to understand the significance of Janice’s silence.

Here’s to the start of another cracking year of Thirteenth Doctoring – the same but different to the TV version, and taking on both new challenges, old foes and the distinctly odd moment of looking her past self squarely in the eye, and acknowledging that, at least where Martha Jones was concerned, he was a bit of an idiot.

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 day, he 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

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