Written by Mark Wright
Artwork by Mike Collins, John Ross, & Staz Johnson
Paperback: 148 pagesPublisher: Panini UK LTD
The third Twelfth Doctor collection from Panini, Doorway to Hell, collects together a series of stories published in Doctor Who Magazine between the end of Series 9 (and the exit of Clara), and the long wait until the launch of Series 10 (in which Bill could finally join the strip). All of the stories within were written by Mark Wright and featured a running arc of the Doctor stuck on Earth and living with the Collins family. Jess Collins was previously met by the Doctor and Clara in "The Highgate Horror," one of the stories in the previous Twelfth Doctor volume (of the same name as the story).
The book opens with the Doctor landing back in 1972 and running into Jess Collins again, and she follows him as he tracks down an alien presence. That presence turns out to be some alien tech which has been trapped underground for centuries, and has evolved the Bubonic Plague into a disease which turns people into Bird Monsters! It makes more sense when you read it. The Doctor is able to thwart the alien threat and save the Collins family, but in the process burns the TARDIS out...and the Doctor is stuck on Earth while it repairs itself. The Collins family take him in as a thank you for saving them, though the Doctor is initially reluctant to such a gesture.
But the Doctor does move in, and we get a lovely one-shot that shows the Doctor interacting with each member of the family. Bonding with the father over his traumatic transformation into a bird monster, cooking for the mom, debating comics with the younger brother, and discussing art with Jess. It's a great character piece, and it made me quickly fall in love wit this arc. It was nice to see the strip try something really different. Sort of doing their own small-scale take on the Doctor's exile to Earth from the Pertwee Era, but instead of being employed by a military organization, he is just living with a family in the early 70s.
The battle Alien Hunters together, and help out a poor neighbor whose own guilt creates a monster, and finally, in the big finale, the Doctor faces off with the Master...not just any Master, but the original Roger Delgado version! This final story is a really great finale and gives us a great battle of wills between the Twelfth Doctor and the Master, not to mention a bit of fun continuity gap filling, showing us what happened to the Delgado version of the character following his final appearance in Frontier in Space. It was always a shame that Delgado's untimely passing meant we never got a final confrontation between he and Pertwee.
This book was excellent, easily among my favorites of the Modern Doctors comic runs. The fact that it had a grounding with the Doctor stranded and living with the Collins family, the fact that between some fun Alien battling adventures they peppered in really nice small one-shots that explored character stuff. And since it is all so small scale for the most part, it makes the grand finale with the Master all the more satisfying. Mark Wright's stories were uniformly fun to read, and the art is solid throughout. I especially grew to love the art by newcomer to the strip Staz Johsnon. While his likeness of the Doctor took a bit of time, he just had a really pleasant art style, reminded me of John Ridgeway's Sixth Doctor run a bit. I highly recommend this book, if you only read one Twelfth Doctor book, make it this one. It is well written, has lots to love, and is so entertaining, I read it fairly quickly. I genuinely had trouble putting it down!