Written by Robbie Morrison | Art by Mariano Laclaustra | Published by Titan Comics
So just as I warm to a title I had previously been having a bit of a struggle getting into to, they change the creative team. Typical. If this is a good or bad move I will have to reserve judgement for now, but as someone who has enjoyed Robbie Morrison’s work many times in the past this seems a good fit to me. Of course with new creative teams come new directions, and the Twelfth Doctor is now travelling alone and at a loose end. In other words, blank piece of paper for the new team to get started with. So, where will the TARDIS take The Doctor this time…
1695 France it seems, from the impressive opening splash page, and we look in on Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of King Louis XIV, confronting a corrupt minister who has been stealing from the King. Richelieu, if you know your history, should actually be dead in 1695, so it’s no surprise when his eyes turn black and a strange darkness flows out of him and sucks the soul out of the unfortunate minister. A wonderfully Gothic opening from Morrison continues as we shift to the Paris Opera and meet Julie D’Aubigny, something of a, ahem, unconventional lady for her day. A quick recap of her lively past brings us to her present, where she is, as Mademoiselle Maupin, a rising star in the Paris opera world. For both her talent and notoriety of course.
Two thirds of the way through the issue, and still no sign of The Doctor? Let’s rectify that. Turns out he’s at the after-party for Julie, who he wastes no time in insulting and ends up in a sword fight with her. Sword fights are pretty cool, but not as cool as the grenade that lands at their feet and sends both of them packing. The Doctor and Julie end up in the TARDIS escaping from Richelieu’s soldiers, led by a man seemingly killed by Julie but still alive, and clearly possessed by that mysterious darkness too. The Doctor also knows his history and knows Richelieu should be long dead, but Julie explains the King lives at Versailles and the Cardinal runs Paris as his own fiefdom. This, of course, starts The Doctor’s nose twitching..
What a great start to Robbie Morrison’s time on this book. A really interesting scenario in a really interesting place and time, and the introduction of Julie, a feisty, loud mouthed, rash and impulsive woman who looks odds on to be The Doctor’s new companion. Never mind that there really was a real Julie D’Aubigny in Seventeenth Century France, as the later text page points out. Morrison writes spectacularly good dialogue for her, and the banter between her and The Doctor is a joy to read. The story is a sort of blend of gothic horror and black humour, sinister undertones at times but sharing space with jokes and sarcasm, and paired together with the classic overarching Dr Who feel.
As great as Robbie’s script was, and indeed it was, the art by Mariano Lacaustra and Colorist Carlos Cabrera may even top it. Drawn in a wonderful style fully suited to the Gothic tinged period material, we are treated to lushly rendered, expertly laid out pages, full of inventive panels and angles. The facial features of the characters, often a weakness in an artist, are rendered beautifully and Peter Capaldi’s likeness is pitch perfect. A joy to read.
A great first issue for the new creative team, with Julie my new favourite character anywhere. Julie’s deadpan reaction to her entering the TARDIS for the first time probably summed up her character neatly: ‘Don’t think you can impress me with some cheap parlor trick in an old cabinet’
Which when you think about it is exactly what The Doctor has spent fourteen lifetimes doing.
Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #2.11 is out now from Titan Comics.