Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.4 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 2 August 2020 - Reviewed by Kenny Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.4  (Credit: Titan Comics)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

32 Pages

Published by Titan Comics - May 2020

The Tenth/Thirteenth Doctor team-up that has launched Year Two of the Thirteenth Doctor Titan run comes to it's big conclusion in part four...and for once Houser ends it on something of a high note instead of a wimper.  The Autons and Weeping Angels stories don't really have any deeper meaning behind them, they don't seem to be working together or anything, but they do tie up things nicely. 

The team is able to escape the Angels trying to break into the TARDIS, and trace the Nestene Consciousness to the tunnels under the Thames.  They then lure the Angels into the tunnels and use the use the Angels power to send the Consciousness back in time, hopefully before plastics are around to feed off of. They then manage to trap the Angels of 1969 and trap them out in space. 

From there they two TARDIS teams part ways, the Tenth Doctor and Martha forced back to 1969 to await their ride per Sally Sparrow's instructions...the newer team deciding to take a break from adventuring and return to Sheffield for a bit, as seeing Martha trapped in the 60s has given them a bit of pause about too much travelling. 

But alas, a new cliffhanger!  Arriving to modern day England doesn't go as planned...as their is a red sky and lightning about.  Is this the work of something new, or will this tie in with the Nestene that was sent back by the Angel? 

I had issues with the first year of the Thirteenth Doctor.  Too many stories fizzled out too quickly.  It seemed like just as things were beginning to get interesting, I'd get some quick fix ending that left me unsatisfied.  Happily that is not the case with the first adventure of Year Two.  The teaming of the Thirteenth and Tenth Doctors was fun, but the story was intriguing and for once had an ending that felt earned and not rushed. Here's hoping this momentum can continue.





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.3 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 16 July 2020 - Reviewed by Kenny Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.3  (Credit: Titan Comics)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

32 Pages

Published by Titan Comics - March 2020

Titan Comics team-up of the Tenth and Thirteenth Doctor continues, and it adds another twist into the tale.  While the Tenth Doctor with Graham, Yaz, and Ryan are able to escape into the TARDIS to avoid the Angels touch...the Thirteenth Doctor and Marhta discover that somehow the Autons are also mixed up in all of this.  

In this issue the two Doctors also meet up for the first time.  It leads to the usual bickering banter that tends to happen when two incarnations meet, but they also compare notes on what they’ve discovered thus far.  Obviously it seems that the Angels are behind the disappearances, but just how does the appearance of the Autons fit into all of this? The mystery will have to wait to be solved until later, as the team find themselves surrounded by Angels...though they make it into the TARDIS, something is trying to break in!

This is another strong entry in this adventure, and one can only hope that writer Jody Houser can end this story on a high note. 





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.2 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 1 March 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.2 (Credit: Titan)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

35 Pages

Published by Titan Comics February 2020

Issue 2 of the Thirteenth Doctor's second year as a Titan Comic book maintains the quality from the opening episode.  Still in London 1969 and trying to figure out why the TARDIS would risk a paradox by bringing them to the same time and place as when the Tenth Doctor and Martha were trapped there without the TARDIS, things begin to build momentum as Martha finds the shop she works at has been robbed, and her coworker has gone missing...and then discovers the Thirteenth Doctor watching her. 

Martha confronts her, and she decides to come clean and admit she is the future incarnation of her friend.  This obviously puzzles Martha, but she seems to at least buy it a little.  She and the Doctor then decide to investigate all these missing people. 

The rest of the gang are trailing the Tenth Doctor, and his machine that goes ding begins to work, and they notice he may be heading towards the TARDIS. Their TARDIS.  If he finds it, he may believe it is his and then they would be stranded in 1969.  Yaz takes the bold measure of trying to confront the Doctor.  She pretends she is a Time Agent (believable cover story based on previous adventures in these comics), but the Tenth Doctor is able to easily blow that cover story...but before the three of them can manage to distract him from the TARDIS, he warns them to turn around...and try not to blink. The Angels are in 1969! 

This was a solid issue.  I thought it was well paced, I enjoyed both the Thirteenth/Martha sections and the Tenth/Trio bits.  I also felt it had a great little cliffhanger. If they manage to have an ending that doesn't feel like it is racing to the finish line, this will be the strongest effort of this book so far.





The Tenth Doctor Adventures - Volume Three (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Friday, 7 June 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Tenth Doctor Adventures Volume Three (Credit: Big Finish)


Starring David Tennant, Catherine Tate, Bernard Cribbins, Jacqueline King, Nicholas Briggs
Written by James Goss, Jenny T Colgan, & Roy Gill
Directed by Ken Bentley

Released by Big Finish - May 2019

David Tennant and Catherine Tate return to Big Finish for Tennant's third and Tate's second boxset, and this time they've brought along some supporting characters from Series 4 as well: Wilf and Sylvia! 

The set opens with No Place, seeing all four characters in a haunted house, with the Doctor and Donna pretending to be newlyweds for some haunted house makeover show. Obviously, this is all in order to deal with whatever alien presence is stalking the house. In all honesty, the opener feels half baked, like they got part of an idea and never truly figured out the details...maybe hoping that the joy of hearing Bernard Cribbins as Wilf again would distract us from the fact that the story isn't terribly great.  And while it is great to hear Wilf and Sylvia in on the action, I can't say I even buy the idea that Sylvia would get involved in this plot.  It's nothing against Jacqueline King, she is good in this...but the way the character had always been written is contrary to her getting roped into a Doctor Scheme. She just wouldn't. And in the end, these are the kind of silly details I focus in on when the story itself isn't terribly interesting. 

Luckily the set bounces back with One Mile Down as the Doctor takes Donna to a tourist trap that was once a beautiful underwater city, but in order to make money with tourism they've encased it in a bubble, with the original fish like inhabitants forced into protective helmets, and essentially be treated as lower life forms despite having built the beautiful city everyone has come to see.  It can be a bit ham-fisted with it's social commentary, but that was the Tenth Doctor era I loved so much!  You've got 45 minutes to an hour to explain your premise, introduce your guest characters, build a world and solve it all for the next adventure...if you want to put in a message, well you just need to shove it in and get the point across quickly.  And I enjoyed this episode!

The set closes out with The Creeping Death, which takes place in Smoggy London in 1952. This was an actual thing that got really bad in December 1952, and a number of people got ill or died due to toxins in the air.  In this story, some minuscule alien lifeforms that live in those kinds of toxins have come to Earth and hope to make the smog last forever, and of course, it is up to the Doctor, Donna, and a small group of people to stop them.  This one has a fun atmosphere, and I enjoyed all the guest characters. It is definitely the best outing for this set. 

As the Tenth Doctor is probably my favourite version of the character, and Donna my favourite companion of his, I'd be hard pressed not to just enjoy hearing Tennant and Tate together again (even out of character the two are always a blast to listen to).  I think despite the lame opening effort, they bounce back and make stories that definitely feel like episodes that could've fit into Series 4.  The only thing that could capture the feel of that era better is Murray Gold's music.  Unlike the first set in which Tennant had to sort of find his Doctor voice again, and the second set in which Billie Piper didn't quite feel like the old Rose, this time Tennant and Tate are rock solid in their performances, and it's a fun ride. 





The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor - The Tenth Doctor (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 11 July 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Road To The Thirteenth Doctor #1 (Credit: Titan / Robert Hack)



"The Ghost Ship"
Writer: James Peaty
Artist: Iolanda Zanfardinoy
Colorist: Dijjo Lima

"The Road To..."
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Rachel Scott
Colorist: Enrica Angiolini

Published by Titan Comics in July 2018

Titan Comics can't actually show the Thirteenth Doctor before she debuts on TV in the fall, so they have decided to build to her Comic Book Debut with three one-shot comic books that leads into her debut story.  The first of these, in what is being called "The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor," is this story featuring the Tenth Doctor.  It is short and light doesn't really feel like it is building towards anything.  It isn't necessarily bad, but at this point doesn't really feel like it is on the "road" to anything. 

It begins with the Tenth Doctor and his two Titan Companions, Gabby and Cindy...as they land on a space station and face off with some creepy beings that the Doctor defeats easily, and exposes a creepy plot by the "Earth Corps" to create genocidal weapons.  And that is seemingly it. The conclusion feels quick and easy, nothing to write home about. The fact is the main story is just a regular Tenth Doctor story, which may or may not play into future events for either his series or the Thirteenth Doctor...but either way, it seems odd to build up and market this as a build up to her strips and then just give us an average story with an attached four page short story that is meant to sort of build to her. 

The short story that actually is meant to serve as the actual "Road To.." storyline, just goes back into the Tenth Doctor's first season on TV, where we see the Doctor in between scenes in The Girl in the Fireplace in which he finds something even crazier than 18th Century France on a space station, though it is left ambiguous as to what it is, as the Tenth Doctor races off to save Rose and Mickey before exploring anything further.

One can only hope this is actually going somewhere. I felt this story was too light, too easy an enemy to defeat...but I didn't quite know what it was they were setting up for the Thirteenth Doctor. I only discovered later that only the four page mini-comic had anything to do with the Thirteenth Doctor's eventual debut.  And I gotta say it was too short and ambiguous and relied a little too much on past continuity for me to get too interested. 

The art is nice, and as per usual for Titan, they just nail the characterization of the Tenth Doctor, but this ultimately is just a regular issue of the Tenth Doctor ongoing series, and anything that may be setting up the actual road to the Thirteenth Doctor feels like an afterthought...or something that might work better when the whole story is collected together. Right now, it isn't the strongest start for the big build-up to the new Doctor.





The Day of the Doctor (BBC Books)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 11 June 2018 - Reviewed by Stephen Blenkinsop
The Day of the Doctor (Credit: BBC Books)
Author: Steven Moffat
Publisher: BBC Books
Released: April 2018
Paperback: 232 pages

The 11th Doctor’s entry into the Target books range sees Steven Moffat novelise his 50th-anniversary celebration with two closely intertwined plots in a timey-wimey multi-Doctor tale.  The first plot strand sees the Doctor joining forces with his previous incarnation and the recently introduced War Doctor to thwart the Zygons who, having found themselves in Elizabethan England, hatch a plot to take over the Earth in the future.  However, the second plot strand which sees the Doctor confront his role in ending the Time War is more significant, addressing a major theme running throughout the series since its return in 2005.  This is arguably given even more weight in this novelisation than in the televised version, exploring the pain arising from his actions in a more personal way.  In revisiting the response of his Ninth incarnation at the end of The Parting of the Ways however, this book makes the point that the choice the Doctor faced here is the same impossible choice he has faced on many occasions.

This is the longest of this new batch of novelisations, perhaps understandably given the extended running length of the TV episode and the multiple plot lines, but also given that it covers the brief prequel, ‘the Night of the Doctor’.  Add to these the addition of new material and this feels a more substantial novel than the other recent releases in this range.  It also has a very different feel to it, demonstrating the versatility of earlier entries into the Target range.  Here, each chapter is written from the perspective of a different character, often in the first person, making each one feel fresh while challenging the reader to work out the identity of the author.  This story-telling device is put to particularly good effect when recounting the Doctor’s journey to the Tower from the perspective of each of his incarnations in turn – a journey his later incarnations have obviously experienced before.  It also allows for the injection of some humour at the expense of the Doctor and other characters, the former being variously identified as Bow Tie, Daddy’s Suit, Pinstripe, Grumpy, and Neckwear.  (As a side point, reference to the Tenth Doctor’s ‘tight suit’ would surely become a standard Target description of this Doctor should the range be extended, much like the Fifth Doctor’s “pleasant, open face”).  Each chapter is also preceded by a communication to readers from the narrator, an archivist who seems to be piecing together events in the story.  For me, the style of these interludes seemed very similar to those of Moffat’s DWM Production Notes.  I anticipate that this may grate with some readers and might be expected to interrupt the flow of the story, but for me these did make for refreshing breaks and a lightening of the mood in some of the book’s more serious moments.

Moffat also takes the chance to add to his original story, the most notable addition being that of a small but not insignificant role for River Song, perhaps understandable as one of his most significant character creations.  There is also an extended description of the Doctor’s integration in the Court of Queen Elizabeth and, of course, reference to Chapter 9 which claims to resolve so many of the show’s big questions and controversies is a typical example of Moffat playfulness.  He has further fun with the first two Doctors here being identified as colour blind and the Doctor also refers to the Peter Cushing Dr Who films and is even reported to be consulting with Cushing on a third film.

As one would expect from an anniversary story there is lots of fan-pleasing continuity with references to the great and the good from the show’s past, including Ian and Barbara, The Brigadier, Sarah Jane Smith and Susan.  The grand finale still sees all the Doctor’s incarnations join forces though here it is in a somewhat different manner to the TV episode and a significant addition comes right at the end of the book with a brief postscript featuring the thirteenth Doctor.  And as with many Target novelisations this one also takes the opportunity to extend the roles and significance of supporting characters - here Queen Elizabeth and McGillop are the main beneficiaries.  The absence of the Daleks is though more apparent in this book.  Although they are an important part of the backdrop to the story in terms of the Time War – without the impact of their on-screen cameos they are effectively absent here.

This novel then has more serious undertones than the first two additions to the Target range but is not without its moments of humour, which, as in past multi-Doctor stories are principally in the interactions between the various incarnations of the main character.  It is a book written very much with fans of the series at its heart, but going beyond the continuity this is never clearer than the beautiful moment when the War Doctor promises that whoever hears the wheezing, groaning sound of the TARDIS will know that they are not alone.  While this is of immediate significance to the Doctor in the context of the story, this is surely also speaking to the fans and their relationship with the Doctor.  The Day of the Doctor immediately soared to the top of the DWM poll of TV stories and I’m sure this novelisation will be held in similarly high regard.