Twelfth Doctor #3 - The Swords Of Kali (Part One)Bookmark and Share

Friday, 9 January 2015 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #3Writer - Robbie Morrison
Artist - Dave Taylor
Colorist - Luis Guerrero
Designer - Rob Farmer
Letterer - Richard Starkings/ Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt
Editor -Andrew James

"Take your time, why don't you?..shoot the distinguished gentleman with the twinkle in his eye --or the raging monster that's about to rip him limb from limb?!" - The Doctor demanding to be rescued.

The villain roster goes from one supernatural entity to another in this new multi-part story. The Doctor and Clara are ushered through India's past and future in a bid to stop a form of vampire creature which has infiltrated the country's 'premier dynasty'. Originally a deliberate break from action was planned, but the Doctor had been hailed by a gentleman called 'Tiger' via the TARDIS phone. Tiger is a friend from long ago again needs some help. 'The Swords Of Kali' features a good handful of time zones and locations with the dramatic events having one TARDIS occupant stranded in 1825 and the other in 2314 trying somehow to reach them. 

There are echoes of the Jagaroth (from 1979 TV gem 'City of Death'), in that a supernatural family have helped mould and direct Mumbai's path from a tribal nation to a cutting-edge interstellar presence. There are other nostalgic details too: the Fourth Doctor's image is featured in a picture on a wall, and the Mona Lisa has once again been affected by the Doctor's actions. There is even a cameo from Leonardo Da Vinci (who was absent from that same Classic Series story). 
And for those only familiar with modern Who, the plot is worthy of 'Blink' and other 'timey wimey' TV installments; not letting up in pace, but thankfully avoiding being rushed. There are many strong original characters once again, but the stand-out is Rani Jhulka. She is a remarkably powerful and quick woman, who saves a couple from some thugs in the pre-credits section, and proceeds to infiltrate a fortress - where she meets up with one of the regulars. With a striking look, and a distinctive way of speaking, she is a much better realisation than Jenny from Series 4 tale 'The Doctor's Daughter'. 

Morrison's writing is again fluent and full of incident, but also offering engaging themes and strong characterization. Dave Taylor reprises his memorable artwork - with sterling support from colourist Luis Guerrero. Both the regulars and the guest characters are drawn with full life and emotive range, and the pages of this comic almost seem to turn of their own accord. Imagery and symbolism are strong too: the atmosphere generated by various sources of light and energy against the backdrop of night-time is inspired. For those readers living through wintry conditions this provides an added edge.
The villains and monsters involved are certainly not the run-off-the-mill stock which Doctor Who sometimes is guilty of, and there is real sense of jeopardy and high stakes. Again this clearly demonstrates how artist and writer are getting their combined vision across.

Much complex shifting from one time zone to the other is central to the plot. This could have been clumsy, but instead is handled well and only adds to a story filled with incident and excitement. The Twelfth Doctor is typically brusque; his portrayal keeping with continuity in that he is really struggling to relate with Clara. Furthermore he is arguably chillingly indifferent to a young woman's grieving for her murdered father. Yet the Doctor is still a hero and will gain retribution for the violence perpetrated by the vampires. One downside in all this packed excitement is that fans of the Clara character will see her being overshadowed by both the actual events and some of the new protagonists featured. Yet the theme of Series 8 is maintained with her well-intentioned efforts to make startled onlookers understand the Doctor's seeming apathy for the crisis unfolding. And with her left to cope with the crisis alone, perhaps the former 'Impossible Girl' will pull off something remarkable. 

** 
Bonus Humour Strips: 'Dark Water' (AJ/RF) advertises a specialist drink that is produced on a Cyberman dominated world. Somewhat disturbingly it reminds us of the dehumanising process that the Cybermen hinge on to multiply, and yet the tone is not muddled. 
'Planet of the Diners' (courtesy of Colin Bell and Neil Slorance) uses Doctor Who's time-travel element at its most frenetic, but still succeeds as a bit of an enjoyable diversion. The lack of noses on the faces of characters is perhaps odd, but otherwise this is colourful and convoluted fun.