He’s been described as a hero, a savior, a champion, and a madman. Not satisfied with life on his home planet of Gallifrey, he stole a time machine and has been traveling through time and space ever since. Now, he is preparing for his thirteenth incarnation and we get a tale of what comes before. Let’s find out where it begins to lead in Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor #1, from Titan Comics.
Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor #1
Writer: James Peaty, Jody Houser
Artist: Iolanda Zanfardino, Rachael Stott
Colorist: Dijjo Lima, Enrica Angiolini
Letterer: Richard Starings, Jimmy Betancourt
Editor: Jessica Burton
Cover Art: Robert Hack
Publisher: Titan Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 11, 2018
Previously in Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor and his companions, Gabby Gonzales and Cindy Wu, have been traveling around the universe and through time for a while, but now it seems that a time of change may be approaching. Before that time arrives, the trio materializes on a spaceship where it seems that ghosts are killing the crew. But as we know, not all is as it seems, especially when The Doctor is involved. And what does a strange time vortex portend for the future of the Doctor?
IS THE DOCTOR IN…
In the first story of this issue, The Doctor and his current companions land on a 30th century spaceship where the crew is being killed by glowing auras with what look to be human shaped, glowing central nervous systems; the ghosts. After witnessing the death of a crew member, the Doctor, Gabby and Cindy pose as part of the Earth Corps Special Ops, the Rescue Division. It seems that the ship is a “ghost ship”; de-commissioned and then brought back to active duty due to budget cuts. Now the crew is in danger from the fantastical “ghosts” which are inhabiting the ship, and it’s up to the Doctor and his companions to help save everyone they can.
The second story is the first part of a serialized tale that touches on events leading up to the thirteenth incarnation of The Doctor. The Doctor and his companions, including a horse named Arthur, are on a spaceship and there are clockwork monsters about. “The Girl in the Fireplace”, anyone?
… OR IS HE OUT?
In “Ghost Ship”, James Peaty (Doctor Who, Supergirl) gives us a tale of Doctor Who that is very familiar. Trouble is, it’s almost too familiar. The writing is there, the dialog is witty and The Doctor sounds like the Doctor, but beyond that, it’s a little thin. In twenty-two pages we get The Doctor doing nothing new: he arrives, he saves, he leaves. You gain no sense of dread for the ancillary characters because they are not really important to the plot. A little background on the Captain of the ship could have changed that, but as it is there is a feeling that you are reading part of a story with a few pages missing. It’s so standard that even the solution is waved away with a “just because” type answer. The plot for the story has spiritual roots in classic television episodes such as The Ark and Waters of Mars, but with none of the drama. The artist for this tale, Iolanda Zanfardino (Doctor Who) and colorist Dijjo Lima (Doctor Who, Torchwood), do commendable work. The Doctor looks like David Tennant, although a little stylized. The colors are bright and work for this tale and pop. But, there are a few points where dialog and panel did not really seem to fit
The second tale “The Road To…” barely fares better. Writer Jody Houser (X-Files, Faith) and the art team of Rachael Stott (Star Trek/Planet of the Apes, Doctor Who) unveil a story which takes place off-screen during the Tennant episode “Girl in the Fireplace.” Only four pages long, it involves the Doctor and his horse companion, Arthur, as they are separated from Rose and Mickey aboard the SS Madam de Pompadour. It actual fares a little better than the first story and I am curious if we are actually going to get an explanation of what is going on or if it is just going to be a justification for the title of the book.
The highlight of the issue is brought to us by artist Rachel Stott: a pin-up with facial studies and full-color drawing of Jodie Whitaker as the Thirteenth Doctor. Rachel Stott did a bang up job, and I’d love to see more illustrations of this sort.
BOTTOM LINE: DOES THE TERM “RED SKY” MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU?
During the 80’s, a major publisher published a huge, Earth-shattering event which crossed over with every title in their line. The problem was many only made a passing reference to the major story happening around them and in no way moved that story forward. Sometimes the only recognizing that anything was amiss was a character noting the skies had turned red. Many fans felt this was a marketing ploy to drive sales and the term “Red Sky” issue was born, meaning an issue that is marketed as a tie-in to a major event, but really has little if nothing to do with it.
I’m sad to say, I feel as if this first issue falls under the “Red Sky” designation.
I’m a Doctor Who fan from my childhood watching Tom Baker on public television, I love the character and am looking forward to Whitaker’s take. However, fan or no, I have to be honest, this title is lacking. You probably could pass and catch it in a collection later.
Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor #1 has a couple of fun, if sparse, tales of the Doctor and his companions. We will have to see if it actually gives us a roadmap to the latest incarnation or if it is just a dead end.