01st May2017

‘Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #3.2′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by James Peaty | Art by Warren Pleece | Published by Titan Comics

Twelfth_Doctor_3_2_A

Well this issue, ‘The Boy With the Displaced Smile’, is apparently an interlude adventure that The Doctor had before re-uniting with Hattie as we saw last issue. Officially, this is The Doctor’s mind going back to a previous adventure, even as him and Hattie are threatened in the present by that shambling seaweed monster. Unofficially, I’m guessing this may be a inventory stand alone issue, usually to help a creative team catch up with the publishing schedule. So, a little disappointed I won’t be seeing the second part of The Doctor and Hattie’s adventure, but also a little curious to see what this stand-alone story would bring.

The Doctor lands in the 1950′s American town of Sweet Haven, seemingly being terrorised by rampaging townspeople. Oh, and there’s a Cheshire Cat like huge grinning mouth in the sky. Yep. The Doctor helps rescue a local waitress, Penny, and they make it to a building with other ‘normal’ people. Penny explains that a week ago a comet landed from the sky, that giant mouth appeared in the sky, and people started getting zombified. The Devil’s work the locals agree. Or a perception field of a reality storm, if you believe The Doctor. He wants to visit the comet crash site, but discovers he is on his own, as Penny was the only one brave enough to actually venture outside for food and water.

The Doctor tracks the comet to the Carter Farm, now remade into the psychedelic reality warping centre of the storm. A possessed family are there, possessed by the Saprophyte, a reality warping parasite. The Saprophyte feed on good emotions, leaving only the bad, and have been somewhat gorging themselves of late. They politely decline The Doctor’s invitation to leave the Earth…ok, they try and feed off him too. Though they feed on his loneliness, his ‘weakness’, he resists and soon defeats them with Penny’s help. Bringing happy emotions back weakens the parasites, and the job is done. As reality re-sets, The Doctor reminds Penny that only her and Billy will remember any of this, and he’s on his way to meet Hattie in the future.

As an assumed fill-in this was very good. There seemed to be a lot of little nods to various genres in there. Small 1950′s American town terrorised by aliens, some zombies trapping people in a building, a touch of Twilight Zone with the possessed boy on the farm. Even an everyman hero (or everywoman heroine) in waitress Penny, and a wrap up in an American diner. Classic themes tied together in a straightforward but enjoyable story. James Peaty did a fine job here, hitting all the right beats at the right time. Warren Pleece seemed to be having fun drawing all this, and delivered nicely detailed artwork well paced and well structured throughout. Wasn’t convinced by his Peter Capaldi likenesses, but he’s certainly not alone in struggling with that.

Although having no direct connection with any other story, as a good stand alone story must do, it did deal in very relevant Who themes. The theme of The Doctor’s need for a companion, of his loneliness when by himself, has run through the character since the start. He needs companionship to retain his connection to those he helps, otherwise he drifts towards emotionless and harsher behaviour. James Peaty’s story could have fit any of the incarnations of The Doctor, some perhaps even better than Twelve. David Tennant’s Doctor always seemed to have a very strong need for companionship for example, although Peter Capaldi’s Clara-less Doctor runs a good second. Still…

‘Sad and lonely boys always need a friend.’

A fun read from start to finish. Nice ideas, classic themes, and The Doctor doing his thing. That’ll do.

**** 4/5

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #3.2 is out now from Titan Comics.

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