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. 





At Childhood's End (BBC Audiobook)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 25 April 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
At Childhood's End (Credit: BBC)
Written by Sophie Aldred
Read By Sophie Aldred
Released by BBC Worldwide - February 2020
Available from Amazon UK

It is always interesting when an actor writes a story based on the character they are so famous for.  It can be very revealing about the actor. When Colin Baker wrote a comic about the Sixth Doctor in the 90s, his Doctor was not the cranky know-it-all jerk he was on TV, he was far more reserved and kind...clearly the Doctor Baker always wanted to play was on those pages. William Shatner wrote a series of novels (with the help of ghostwriters) in which his Captain Kirk is written as the greatest guy in the universe who comes back from the dead and can beat up Data.

Sophie Aldred has now returned to the world of Doctor Who with her novel, At Childhood’s End, and it pretty much shows she just gets it.  She sees what worked about her character back in the late 80s, but is not afraid to give her character a ton of growth and maturity (as she is an older version here). Aldred recently made a brief return to the role of Ace in a specially made trailer for Season 26’s Blu-ray release, reflecting on her time with the Doctor while standing in her office for “A Charitable Earth,” her successful charity organization (first mentioned in the RTD penned Sarah Jane Adventures story Death of the Doctor)...and now she has dug deeper into that version of an older Ace, in which Ace gets a chance to reunite with the Doctor, albeit with the latest version.  

Aldred not only knows Ace (and how she would be as a middle-aged woman), but she also seems to be steeped in the confusing expanded universe lore involving the character. Ace is arguably the first of the modern companions, the first to have a real unfolding storyline.  When Doctor Who was put into hiatus following the 1989 season, Ace was still with the Doctor...her story left unfinished. The character then took on a new life in the comic strip, then the Virgin New Adventures novel series really let the character change and grow (becoming some kind of space mercenary), then the comics retconned everything and killed her off, meanwhile, the audio adventures at Big Finish have had their own life and development for over 20 years.  If you dig too deep you find a lot of conflicting ideas of where Ace ended up. She is either a space bad-ass, a spy for Gallifrey, dead, a perpetual teenager, or running a charity on Earth. It’s confusing.  

This story doesn’t dwell on rectifying all of that, and it is better for that, but it does feature Ace (in flashback) with the Seventh Doctor using a machine that shows a variety of these outcomes for her possible futures.  I also feel like there are some deep-cut references to audios or novels thrown in her. I get the feeling Aldred kept up, at least a bit, with the novels or comics that followed her and Sylvester McCoy’s exit from the show. She certainly was involved in the audio stuff. Luckily, while it feels like her story fits in nicely with (or at least compliments) the variety of adventures Ace had in spin-off material, it still stands on its own.  

It is extremely weird to pit Ace against the Thirteenth Doctor.  The thirteenth is so light and happy and utterly different to the Seventh.  He became so restrained, serious, and mysterious...and his little games certainly began to rub Ace the wrong way. All of Ace’s baggage for that version of the Doctor is carried over to a woman who is so utterly different, and it is odd.  But that odd nature is in the book. Ace is weary of the Doctor at all times and clearly is put off by her newer bubbly personality.  

 

Aldred’s audiobook is extremely well-read. Beyond being able to perform as Ace again, she puts on a variety of voices to keep things interesting.  She nails her performances as the Thirteenth Doctor and her three companions, really capturing their voices. The story is not nearly as interesting as all the character development for Ace...but that development is really good and the closure this story brings to Ace is welcome and makes it all worthwhile. 





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.1 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 24 February 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Year 2 #1 - Cover 1 (Credit: Titan )

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

33 Pages

Published by Titan Comics January 2020

I was sort of disappointed in the first "year" of Titan Comics run for the Thirteenth Doctor.  It had great art, some decent concepts, but it always seemed to be set up for an issue or two, then an ending was constantly rushed. In fact, while so many seemed to be decrying that the show was now awful and disappointing, I was finding it to be rather decent, and it was the comics I was disappointed in.  But, it wasn't all bad.  Just felt like the heart of the stories were glossed over in favor of quick endings.

So now it is a new year, and they've begun a new "season" of sorts for the Thirteenth Doctor. I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.  It has started off decent enough.  But I've been burned before. Then again, maybe this is why I tend to read Trade paperbacks, at least then I get the whole story.  As I read issue to issue, I think I hate the pacing of it. 

That is neither here nor there, the story has the TARDIS landing in 1969 in London (missing their Woodstock target), and the Doctor is sure the TARDIS has put them their for a reason...as she knows that this is also the same time her Tenth incarnation and Martha Jones were briefly trapped there by the Weeping Angels (see Blink).  So she decides to investigate.  She takes on the task of checking up on Martha and sends the companions to tail the Tenth Doctor. 

It's a fine start, though beyond the fun of seeing the Tenth Doctor and Martha and getting to see their lives when trapped for months in '69...I can't say it had much of a story beyond the cliffhanger involving Martha's shop coworker getting zapped away by the Angels. Here's hoping they really go for it this time around. 





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Holiday Special #2 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 11 January 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Holiday Special #2 (Credit: Titan)

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

49 Pages

Published by Titan Comics -  December 2019

The second and final part of the Thirteenth Doctor Holiday Special comic from Titan is another case of writer Jody Houser (writer of this series) setting up something fun and at least mildly intriguing in one issue, but then we rush towards an ending in the second. Admittedly, this isn’t the worst offender by any stretch, but it is a pattern I have felt often during the run. The first issue had the heroes investigating their memories having been wiped and replaced, stumbling across tin soldier guards and elves...and a seemingly baddie Santa. This issue wraps it up, with the baddie Santa turning out to actually be Krampus (a yuletide monster that is being absolutely overused in media lately).

There have been quite a few direct to video Krampus movies, a pretty solid theatrical film, and even within Doctor Who media Krampus keeps popping up.  The character has shown up on audio with the Eighth Doctor, and has not only appeared in comic form via Doctor Who Magazine...but Titan themselves had a version already! In short: it’s been done to death and now it feels old hat. 

The issue is fine I suppose, but I have to admit that I lost interest when Krampus became the enemy. The story also hints that Santa may actually be real too. Which is silly but does hark back to a very old First Doctor comic in which the Doctor had to help Santa save the day. But that jokey wink isn’t really enough to make me care.

This issue not only wraps up the Holiday Special, but also serves as something of an ending for the Thirteenth Doctor’s first year of adventures in Titan’s pages. The next issue due out is the launch of “Year Two.” On the whole I haven’t been too impressed with this series. It set up interesting stories, but I often felt let down by the final issues.  It kept feeling like empty set up and then a rushed ending. The art is great, the stories have potential, and from the opening issue they had capture the character’s voices...but there never seemed to be enough meat in those bones to make a proper stew. Maybe Year Two will improve on this...but based on Houser’s work so far, I am unsure if she has any way to put a structure to hold her neat ideas on. 





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Holiday Special #1 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Friday, 20 December 2019 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Holiday Special #1 (Credit: Titan)

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

49 Pages

Published by Titan Comics -  November 2019

Christmas Specials may no longer be a major part of the TV series, but Doctor Who can't completely escape the holiday. Titan Comics has decided to fill the void by offering up its own holiday story featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her cohorts.

The gang is plotting their next trip, but when they discuss the possibility of a carnival or amusement park, they recount the last time they made such a trip, but their memories don't line up at all. They each have their own version of what happened on a certain trip, and the Doctor needs to know why.  So they head off to investigate.  It takes them to a planet they don't recognize but based on their encounter with a being from that planet they had been there before.  And this leads them to a castle with Santa Claus who has nutcracker robots or something.  They are jailed for calling him Santa though. 

It's only the first half of the story, with the second half to be resolved in the next issue.  It's a fine set up, but Santa Claus has certainly been covered in Who of Christmas past (both on TV and in the comics of yesteryear). While it is nice for those missing the Christmas Special to have something, even a comic, to fill the hole...I can't say I am terribly bothered by the loss of the Christmas special.  I always enjoyed them, but the show was clearly scraping the bottom of the barrel when it came to Christmas themed episodes. They did 13 of them, and I think the theme had run its course. The Doctor can't always bump into an adventure with killer Christmas Trees, Robot Santas, evil Snowmen...or just get lazy with it and call the town Christmas just to get it out of the way.  I'm fine with the show moving on.

That all said, this is so far a decent start to the story, and I am hopeful that for once this team manages to end a story and not rush to the ending.