By George Mann, Mariano Laclustra, Carlos Cabrera, Juan Manuel Tumburus, Rachel Stott & Alexandre Siqueira
The best thing about Doctor Who is that there’s a whole universe to explore and The Twelfth Doctor Vol. 5 opens up that possibility to great success. Here we join The Doctor on a time-travelling mission to a space station where he ends up working alongside a punk-rocker companion Hattie to solve a mystery as old as her home itself. Written by veteran author George Mann, the book draws from the Twelfth Doctor’s ability to play the guitar which is something that doesn’t happen that often in the show (although the Doctor’s anachronistic entrance at the beginning of Season 9 with a guitar on a tank in a Roman colosseum springs to mind as a notable, entertaining exception). There’s also an interesting new creation in the form of the creatures known as The Foxkin that pose a formidable challenge for The Doctor to face.
This is the first part of the two stories collected in this trade, entitled “The Twist”, which contains issues #6-10 from the second year of The Twelfth Doctor’s stories. It’s well plotted and has all the right elements to be a really fun Doctor Who adventure, complete with an interesting endgame that ends on an optimistic note. Hattie is introduced as a new companion and it’s an interesting choice by Mann. The new dynamic between her and The Doctor is certainly a welcome change of pace from the normal companions of the show, who have largely heralded from present-day London. It’s great to see that both The Twelfth Doctor and The Tenth Doctor seriesaren’t resorting to companions from London just because the show does, using various different locations to draw them from.
The art team for the first three issues consists of Mariano Laclustra on pencils and the pair of Carlos Cabrera and Juan Manuel Tumburus on colors, all of whom bring some excellent energy to the arc. The Twelfth Doctor looks exactly like Peter Capaldi, with all his mannerisms and quirks showcased effectively, and Hattie’s character design is an interesting one as well. The Foxkin themselves also make for good one-off aliens that are designed effectively by Laclustra, who gives them a distinctive and commanding look throughout the book that always make their presence felt. The setting of The Twist space station is also a unique one that really works, and there are several amazing establishing panels that really make sure that this setting stands out. Hopefully this is something that The Doctor returns to in future issues as there’s plenty of potential to explore the aftermath of his actions with the Foxkin.
Laclustra, Cabrera and Tumburus are only on artistic duties for “The Twist“ as Mann switches time, genre, and setting completely for the follow-up two-issue arc, “Playing House.” In steps Rachel Stott on the line work and both Alexandre Siqueira & Rodrigo Fernandes on colors for #9 and #10 respectively. The atmosphere of the second arc is as spooky and as haunting as you might expect from what is essentially a ghost story, and is really the high point of “Playing House”, particularly in the designs of the monsters. Unfortunately, not everything is perfect as there were a couple of human facial expressions that didn’t quite work as well in “Playing House” as they did in “The Twis”t but for the most part it isn’t a particularly big problem.
Mann doesn’t waste time getting right into the action with the “Playing House” two-parter that’s just as fast paced as “The Twist.” The big surprise reveal at the end of the first issue is just as well-executed as the reveal in the first arc and the structure of both storylines are great. Mann finds some interesting antagonists that aren’t necessarily classic foes of The Doctor to freshen things up a bit and keep things interesting because there’s only so many times you can use the Daleks or the Cybermen before they lose some of their impact. Both of the stories maintain a solid consistency throughout them and there isn’t one that feels weaker than the other, even though “The Twist” has more room to develop its storyline by being an issue longer. The arcs are nicely developed and well-executed; let’s hope Mann is given the opportunity to write more Twelfth Doctor stories in the future.
Titan Comics’ Doctor Who comics are proving to be of a consistently great quality and if you’re a fan of the show or looking for a standalone sci-fi adventure to read, then you can’t go far wrong with this. It’s well paced, cleverly plotted and pure fun from start to finish.