REVIEW: “Doctor Who: The 13th Doctor – Volume 1”

Doctor Who - Thirteenth Doctor Vol 1Doctor Who has a long history in comics, branching all the way back into the earliest days of the show. That history continues in the present, with Titan Comics’ line of Doctor Who stories – the latest being a new series of stories featuring Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor. Just like the newest series of the show did, this comic – written by Jody Houser and illustrated by Rachael Stott – features an all-new adventure with all-new side characters and an all-new villain. Unlike a good chunk of the newest series, however, this story actually features a satisfying beginning, middle, and end.

Bursting straight out of her hit new television adventures, this first collection of the Thirteenth Doctor’s comic book tales is a scorchingly fresh incarnation, taking the show – and its comic strip adventures – where no Doctor has gone before!

Facing off against vile villains and misunderstood monsters in flavours both human and alien, the Doctor and her friends must push the limits of time and space, confronting evils deliberate and accidental all throughout history – and uncovering secrets long-hidden and wonders never-seen along the way!

Perfect for fans old and new alike, this is an awe-inspiring jumping on point to the Doctor Who comics mythos.

Buy it, read it, then travel back in time to read it for the first time all over again…!

Collects Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #1-4.

Jody Houser has a gift for capturing the voices of already-existing characters. She did a marvelous job at recreating the feeling of Stranger Things in Dark Horse Comics’ Stranger Things miniseries and she does a superb job here with Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor and her friends. Every time one of these characters says something, you can immediately hear the voice of the actor saying those words, and that’s the sign of a writer who truly grasps how characters from a TV series or film should sound. Not only has Houser written some excellent dialogue for these characters, but she’s also crafted an adventure for them to go on that is interesting, exciting, well-paced, and well-concluded. In these four issues, the Doctor discovers what’s behind those weird encounters she’d been having with someone in the Time Vortex (seen in the backup stories of The Road to the 13th Doctor); a scientist who’d been experimenting with Vortex Manipulators found himself trapped in the vortex after his partner had tampered with his Vortex Manipulator in order to keep him safe from an evil villain known only as the Horder. From there, the Doctor quickly learns who the Hoarder is, what he wants, and how he can be stopped and goes about doing so. It’s a super fun adventure and the Hoarder is a really interesting villain – far more interesting than villains like the Pting were.

Accompanying Houser’s excellent scripts is artwork from Rachael Stott. Stott has illustrated a number of other ranges in Titan Comics’ Doctor Who series, and every time she does so, she brings a level of realism that perfectly captures the actors’ likeness while also making the illustrations feel alive. She has an amazing grasp on how each of the four characters from the show – The Doctor, Yaz, Graham, and Ryan – look; how they express themselves, how their bodies move, etc., and she does an amazing job at translating those elements of the actors’ performances into her artwork. Not only that, she does some amazing design work on the various locales. Issue one opens up on an alien planet that is utterly gorgeous, another issue features a lot of action inside the TARDIS – a locale that would seem difficult to illustrate but one which Stott illustrates perfectly, giving it so much life that it’s made me fall in love with the design more than I already had. Her design of the aliens in the story is also utterly unique and interesting. She’s created designs that would probably be out of the budget for the actual TV series to execute, which is exactly what should be done for comics. These Doctor Who comics should do things the TV series can’t do, and one of those is feature aliens that are beyond what could be accomplished on the budget of a BBC show. Stott’s aliens are interesting and expressive and genuinely beautiful to look at – even the ones that are supposed to be frightening!

This first volume of 13th Doctor stories from Titan Comics is a whole lot of fun. Houser perfectly captures the characters from the TV series and brings them to life on the page with brilliant results, aided by Stott’s impressive artwork. I do wish the arc was a bit longer – maybe six issues instead of four – so that we could spend just a bit more time with these new side characters and the monster, but as it is, it works very well. It’s deeply imaginative, utterly thrilling, and very satisfying. It’s the perfect place for anyone who’s new to Doctor Who in comics to jump in, and I’d say it’s even a great jumping on point for someone who’s never seen an episode of Doctor Who in their lives. It’s an easy read, but an enjoyable one, and I thoroughly recommend it.

4.5 out of 5 wands

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