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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Comic Spotlight Review: Doctor Who: New Adventures With The Twelfth Doctor #1


Just as it is no stranger to original novels, Doctor Who is known for having an equally large presence in comics as well, particularly since the series rebooted in 2005.  While there are a number of Who comics out there featuring various adventures with the Doctor and his companions, the comics recently received a reboot as the publishing rights went to Titan Comics.  Beginning with new on-going series featuring the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, this Wednesday sees the release of a brand new on-going series featuring Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor.  Will the new Doctor be able to have exciting comic book adventures despite his future still being relatively uncertain?

In Doctor Who: New Adventures With The Twelfth Doctor #1, the Doctor and Clara find themselves confused.  Expecting to arrive on a planet covered in ice and snow, they instead find a jungle.  As their exploration continues, the Doctor discovers that the planet is being terraformed by a wealthy corporation, bringing about cataclysmic changes.

One of the biggest concerns going into this comic as a fan of the current season of Doctor Who was just where this comic would take place in Series 8.  Sure, there have been a few places which could be used for expansion, but nothing as easily expanded as the runs of Smith and Tennant's Doctors (not yet, anyway).  Fortunately, writer Robbie Morrison does an excellent job of finding just the right niche for this opening story to take place: between the episodes "The Caretaker" and "Kill the Moon."  Though there is not a lot of wiggle room between these two episodes, it gives the writers enough time to finish this story while the rest of Series 8 plays out.  This also allows for Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor to be the only one of Titan's relaunched Who comics to have a companion who has been seen on the series itself.

As far as story goes, there's not really much here that's new for The Doctor.  The Doctor and his companion show up somewhere, that place is more dangerous than initially anticipated, and the Doctor goes around proving he is smarter than any of the petty humans who caused the dangerous situation to begin with.  Morrison's use of a big corporation being one of the antagonists seems a bit to reminiscent of the current Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor comic, but there seems to be just enough variation.  Though this story does not feel particularly refreshing, Morrison does a good job of at least making the comic an engaging read. Hopefully, as this series continues, we will get more original material as well as situations we have never seen the Doctor find himself.

Most of the reason this comic is able to remain engaging despite a not too original plot is that Morrison perfectly captures Capaldi's characterization of the Doctor.  Capaldi's Doctor is strikingly different from his previous incarnations for a number of a reasons, and those differences are captured exceedingly well here.  Not only does Twelve remark upon how stupid it was that Eleven loved bow ties and fezzes, but we also get to see much of his blunt honesty towards Clara.  There are one or two small moments where the Doctor says something which seems a bit out of character from what we have seen in Series 8 thus far, but Morrison's writing of the Doctor is easily one of the early hallmarks of this comic.  Much like Capaldi is quickly becoming my favorite Doctor, it is already easy to see Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor being my favorite of the relaunched titles.

Where The Twelfth Doctor really stands out from its brethren is in its art.  The Eleventh Doctor is a well written series from Al Ewing, but the art can sometimes leave a bit to be desired.  Similar complaints could be lodged against the Tenth Doctor as well.  This is not the case with The Twelfth Doctor.  Dave Taylor's art on this comic is easily the best of Titan Comics' relaunched Doctor Who titles.  The environments, creatures, and characters all feel realistic as well as other-worldly without being too cartoonish.  Taylor draws Doctor Who comics the way you would want a Doctor Who comic to be drawn.  Engaging, but not too silly.  Detailed, but not too realistic.  It is an enviable talent which Taylor displays here, making his art another reason to keep coming back to this comic each month.

When it comes down to it, Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor is probably not going to be a comic which introduces new readers to the world of the Doctor.  Though the first page gives any potential new readers a quick background, it seems highly unlikely that this is a comic which will be read by anyone other than fans.  This is not a bad thing by any means, though, as there are plenty of things for fans of Capaldi's Doctor to enjoy about this comic.  Dave Taylor's art and Robbie Morrison's writing of Twelve help to make this opening issue an incredibly engaging read despite the lackluster plot.  The plot will hopefully improve as this comic gets a chance to stretch its legs, but this issue definitely has enough to leave readers wanting more.  If Capaldi is quickly becoming your favorite Doctor too, you owe it to yourself to check out this comic on Wednesday.

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