By Jody Houser, Roberta Ingranata, Enrica Eren Angiolini, Shari Chankhamma, Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Sarah Hedrick
The first Thirteenth/Tenth Doctor crossover was a welcome diversion from the current series, featuring the current Doctor teaming up with a fan-favourite battling against a fan-favourite monster in a new setting. But if you thought that was the end of the pairs’ adventures together, you thought wrong – Jody Houser is back for more Doctor Who, with the same team, the same TARDIS and a whole new adventure. This time, it’s the Sea Devils – a classic series monster rather than a new one.
Jody Houser revels in exploring the alternate history created by the new “What if?” scenario of a world ravaged by a paradox that has seen humanity enslaved by the Sea Devils. There are plenty of surprises in this issue, and a new fan-favourite gets reintroduced at every turn, but without sacrificing the fact that this is primarily a Thirteenth Doctor comic. The dynamic between Ryan, Graham and Yaz is finely tuned to perfection as they are given more room to breath outside of the medium of television and the unlimited budget that comes with the comic format allows for a Dalek Invasion of Earth-style script with the Sea Devils. The fusion of the Chris Chibnall era with that of the Russell T. Davies era feels perfectly natural, and the set-up created here is certainly an intriguing one.
It’s a set-up that justifies another team up between Ten and Thirteen so soon after the last and sets up their reunion nicely. The alternate versions of the characters that they meet in this issue are given enough of an introduction to immediately separate them from the ones that audiences are familiar with, but there’s still the recognisable DNA in their artwork, with artist Roberta Ingranata aiding Houser in bringing the mannerisms of The Thirteenth Doctor to life. Short of Titan Comics and Sophie Aldred’s At Childhood’s End, Thirteen can feel relatively shortchanged compared to other Doctors in terms of expanded media content, but Titan are more than making up for that with this series that feels like Thirteen was built for comics all along.
Enrica Eren Angiolini’s colours are fascinating and capture the mood of the show as the comic fuses its multiple eras together with style that allow the characters to have some much needed emotional depth in their interactions – aided by Shari Chankhamma’s stellar letters. The humorous interactions between The Doctor and The TARDIS still allow for a relatively light-hearted scenario despite the high-stakes of alternate timeline setting, and a level of fun factor is never lost as the show’s magic is felt at every turn.
Whilst Doctor Who #1 still feels in early set-up mode so a slow pace is only expected at this stage, it does enough to provoke audience’s interest as the world-building is established efficiently as the stakes are made abundantly clear from the offset. This has all the makings of another must-read series, if it can build on its high-stakes premise and remember to keep the spirit of the show alive.