Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #11 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 19 August 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
hirteenth Doctor - Issue #11 (Credit: Titan)
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini & Comicraft

32 Pages

Published by Titan Comics August 2019

The Doctor and her gang help the Cosair out with their first joint heist...and the artifact turns out to be far more impressive: a Star Whale.  But there is clear tension as the Doctor is unsure of the Cosair's motives, or who her employer is.  Things only get more difficult when the authorities show up, and hte Cosair abandons the Doctor's friends to get the Star Whale out with the Doctor's TARDIS.  The Doctor was certainly not happy to leave her friends behind, but was even more upset to discover who the employer actually is: The Hoarder.

Overall I would say I have only mildly enjoyed the Thirteenth Doctor comic book.  I haven't loved every issue or truly eaten it up in the same way I enjoy reading the Doctor Who Magazine ongoing strip...but I do enjoy it. I find it entertaining but not exceptional. But I do enjoy how Jody Houser has continually tied her stories together.  The first story was quite good, and while the second was underwhelming, it did tie into the first with the two time travellers fro mthe opening story returning.  Now the third story has kicked off, and the antagonist from the opening story has returned. It's nice to see the continuity, even if I am not blown away by every issue. 

This issue does a decent job of building the story, and upping the stakes. It isn't a brilliant story, but it is well told, entertaining enough, and has good artwork.  In short: it gets the job done. 





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #10 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Friday, 16 August 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
hirteenth Doctor - Issue #10 (Credit: Titan)Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini & Viviana Spinelli

32 Pages

Published by Titan Comics July 2019

In the latest issue of the Thirteenth Doctor, we get to know the Cosair, the Doctor’s old Time Lord friend first mentioned in “The Doctor’s Wife.” She is essentially a thief with a heart of gold, and while the Doctor initially tries to get the Cosair to return the item she stole in the previous issue, the Cosair convinces the Doctor that she us stealing items for the right reasons, returning artifacts to their original homes for a third party. 

The previous issue gave the loosest of set ups for this story, with the Doctor accused of theft and then tracking the real thief. This installment sets up the real plot of the storyline, which is that it is going to be a heist story of some kind, with the Doctor probably having conflicts with her old friend in order to pull it off. 

It is a fine issue, even if I have so far found the Cosair to be a fairly generic swashbuckling anti-hero type. Perhaps more layers to the character will arrive as the issues come. 





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #9 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 15 July 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #9 (Credit: Titan)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini & Viviana Spinelli

30 Pages

Published by Titan Comics June 2019

In Issue #9 of the Thirteenth Doctor we begin a brand new adventure.  We start off at an alien parade, but as you'd expect the Doctor is soon arrested for supposedly stealing some sacred jewel. The Doctor obviously didn't do it, but some woman with Two Hearts and dark curly hair did...and the Doctor can only assume the worse: Missy.  Soon she and the gang escape their jailer, and head off to solve the mystery and hopefully stop Missy from whatever evil plan she may have.  

But things aren't that simple, as the gang trace her signal and find it isn't Missy at all...but is, in fact, the Cosair! I guess this is sort of a spoiler, but really it is more of a twist for hardcore fans, and most will have to stop and wonder "who?" For those who don't recall every detail of the show's history, the Cosair has never been seen, and was really only mentioned once before on screen (in The Doctor's Wife) as having been a Time Lord friend of the Doctor's.  The Cosair was described as having changed genders a few times, and here we find her as a female.  

Obviously this is just the start to a new story, and the idea of getting to meet the Cosair is intriguing.  We will see if the story has any meat on it once it gets going. 





The Clockwise War (Panini Graphic Novel)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 3 July 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Clockwise War  (Credit: Panini)
Written By: Scott Gray, Tim Quinn, Paul Cornell, Gary Gillatt, Alan Barnes
Artist: John Ross, John Ridgeway, Charlie Adlard, Martin Geraghty, Adrian Salmon
Paperback: 156 Pages
Publisher: Panini UK LTD

Whatever the reason, Panini made the decision to hold back on the Twelfth Doctor's final Doctor Who Magazine story for it's own titular volume, and included with that story are some reprints of older 90s comic stories, specifically some stories that were originally printed in the Doctor Who Yearbooks in the mid 90s.  This marks the first time that a Doctor from the new series has been combined in a Panini collection with Classic Series comics.  While it was annoying that the Phantom Piper had ended on a cliffhanger and I had to wait months for the conclusion to get released, the volume is finally here and I can now just pick it up when I finish the previous book.  I guess if anything they used it as an excuse to have a modern Doctor to sell the books, especially when the titular story for the book is actually quite good, to reprint some lesser known stories that don't really have a home otherwise.  

Having finally read “The Clockwise War” story…I can only express how much I wish it had been included with the rest of the stories in The Phantom Piper.  Part of what I really love about the Panini Graphic Novels is that they always seem to collect together stories that make sense. The best example is the Eighth Doctor’s run.  The first volume featured his debut up to the climax with the Threshold, his second volume featured a running storyline that saw the return of the Master and a major battle between the two Time Lords in the finale…his third began with the debut of the strip in colour and lasted right up until the exit of longtime companion Izzy, and the fourth featured the final set of adventures for the Eighth Doctor.  But since the Eleventh Doctor, the sets don’t always make as much sense. Sometimes storylines have been split up between two volumes…and it is clunkier.  I would love to sit down with a volume of comics that begin with Bill debuting, and then right up until this finale…because it is truly great.  And so much of the storyline of “The Clockwise War” hinges on the running stories that began in the previous volume’s opening story “The Soul Garden” and continued right up to the cliffhanging ending of “The Phantom Piper.”  This story is the climax to a whole year’s worth of stories…and it wasn’t included in the same book.  It seems like it is all coming down to release schedules. Why make a proper “graphic novel” when you’ve got schedules to keep.  I’d much rather have waited for this whole volume to get released properly, then split them up. A graphic novel is meant to tell a whole story…these collections don’t always feel like that is the goal anymore. Which is a bit of a shame. They still do a great job putting these books out there, they are high quality in terms of their production value…it is just a shame that the story element isn’t being as properly looked after as it should be.  Part of what I loved about “Doorway to Hell” is it collected together the full storyline of the Doctor’s life trapped in 70s Earth in one volume.  It’d have been nice if the Bill/Dreamscape storyline could’ve got the same lovely treatment. 
Now....with that all out of the way, I really loved the main story in this volume. We see the grand return of Eighth Doctor comics companion Fey Truscott-Sade, who is actually the main antagonist of the piece, and it is a big thrill ride that sees the exit of the Twelfth Doctor.  Despite my complaints about the split of volumes, the story itself is fantastic.  I loved the glimpse into a really bad day in the Time War, and seeing what turned Fey to the dark side…and it is in many ways the Doctor’s hubris that screwed her up. The story ties up all the storylines that have lingered throughout the run since Bill debuted on the strip, and it does it in a big exciting fashion.  As a story, it is highly recommended!
From there, the volume beefs up its page count with some older strips, some back-up stories that focused on the Cybermen, and others that never actually landed on the pages of Doctor Who Magazine, but were actually strips that were initially published in “Doctor Who Yearbooks” from the mid-90s.  This was during the Wilderness Years, a time when the show was off the air but somehow extended media thrived, including the continued publishing of a monthly magazine and even some annuals. The comics included from this era came from Yearbooks published in 1994, 1995, and 1996.  These stories feature the First, Fourth, and Fifth Doctors, as well as a brief cameo of the Seventh.  The Yearbook strips aren't as deep or extensive as the DWM strips, as they are all just one part shorts, as opposed to serializing for several months on the pages of the magazine.  It is nice to have them reprinted and remastered, but they aren't the best comic adventures for the Doctor and co.  
“The Cybermen” was actually a series of short one page strips that appeared as a back-up comic in Doctor Who Magazine, and were written by Alan Barnes and drawn by Adrian Salmon, and was meant to evoke the 60s Dalek strips that appeared in TV Century 21. Unlike the forgettable Yearbook strips, these are actually pretty cool. Each story lasted about 5 or so pages, and the entire run is collected here. 
On the whole, it is hard to not recommend this volume.  Obviously, the decision to hold back the Twelfth Doctor's final story is more about marketing than anything.  It is easier to sell a book with a more current Doctor on the cover, than various old Doctors with no cohesive theme.  That said the Cybermen stories are neat, and it is nice that Panini, however they do it, is still remastering and collecting together all of these old comics into nice shiny volumes. The efforts of preservation should be applauded. With Ground Zero on the way, it would seem that the DWM era back catalogue will be wrapping up, and one can only hope that Panini continues their collections by going back and collecting together the pre-DWM strips from TV Comic, TV Century 21, and Countdown/TV Action. Perhaps rights issues could prevent that, but as they have reprinted some of those comics in the past, I have to believe they are considering it. 




Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #8 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 24 June 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #8 (Credit: Titan)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Rachel Stott
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

30 Pages

Published by Titan Comics 22nd May 2019 

The latest arc involving alien flesh eaters and a mysterious podcast gets wrapped up in the latest issue of the The Thirteenth Doctor. It wraps the story up in a nice quiet bow.  For a story that was about trekking through various time periods to solve a mystery, it ends in a surprisingly simple way.  The reveal of who is behind the podcast seems pretty obvious, but it doesn't really play it as some extra big threat.  

Overall I would say this story was decent and could be a good read, but it also feels like they just tired of the plot, and wrapped it up quickly to move on.  I'm not sure there was a better way to end the story, but I can't help but feel like the initial reveal that something bigger and more mysterious was going on than a simple threat of alien flesh eaters feels dry and forgettable in the way the story concludes.  

Once again the art has been great, the characters are all there in the writing, but the plot just doesn't seem like it truly came together for Jody Houser this time.  There were solid premises but no real meat to it.  I mean it ended and I had no feelings about it whatsoever. I wouldn't even call it a unsatisfying conclusion, just a totally forgettable one.  

Luckily, a new issue will come and with it a brand new story.  Hopefully the next one will reignite the flame.  





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #7 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 22 May 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #7 (Credit: Titan)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Rachel Stott
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

29 Pages

Published by Titan Comic 1 May 2019

The mystery of the history podcast and the flesh eating monsters continues, with Time Agents swooping in to investigate how the Doctor is wrapped up in it all.  The agents turn out to be the time traveling scientists that were so integral to the first story of this Thirteenth Doctor line. The Doctor seems to be a through line for this popular history podcast, and the Agents want to no why.  They also have the issue of the flesh eating monsters, who have evolved after feeding off the flesh of humans for so long, including one that is seemingly immortal due to having bit the Doctor.  

The story builds nicely from where the previous issue left off.  Taking the cliffhanging mystery and naturally building upon it. Seeing the agents turn out to be the duo from the first story from this series, and how their long time at the Time Agency has changed them since we last met.  It also (and pardon this) fleshes out the monsters a bit.  And leaves us wondering how this podcast will tie it all up. 

It is a strong installment in the latest comic adventures, and if we have to wait a long time for the show to return to the air, at least there is a solid regular comic adventures for the Thirteenth to fill in the gap.