09th Aug2018

‘Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor #2′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by James Peaty | Art by Pasquale Qualano | Published by Titan Comics

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So, issue 2 has rolled around fast for this, The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor. James Peaty returns to script, though The Eleventh Doctor has replaced the Tenth of last issue, and Pasquale Qualano steps in as the new artist. This being Titan Comics big traditional Doctor Who event this year, I’m guessing, this is as close to a team up of the Doctor’s you will get. It’s not so much a team up as a gathering of common threads all leading to the unveiling of The Thirteenth Doctor. Last issue was a great start to proceedings, as much fun for seeing Ten strut his stuff after a little absence as for the mini-series this is all part of. Now, time for Eleven to remind us.

‘The Steampunk Conundrum’ takes us to 1896 San Francisco, where The Doctor and current companion Alice Obiefune are taking a break as time tourists. Well, I say taking a break but with The Doctor there is no such thing. Coincidentally, 1896 San Francisco seems to be full of robots that shouldn’t both be there, or even exist yet. Time to do some investigating. The Doctor visits a home where a robot is being a domestic servant, and quickly realises what is going on. The robots seem to be battle drones, but undercover, so masquerading as helpful assistants to the locals. When one is challenged , it reverts to battle mode and kills someone, reverting back to undercover. The next question of course, is who’s army are they?

If only a passing policeman would walk right up and help. Wouldn’t you know it…turns out someone called Professor Schwartz knows a lot about what’s going on. So The Doctor and Alice, from Scotland Yard as his always useful fake id claims, accompany Detective Brady to the mist covered docks, which tickles The Doctor no end. I love Peaty’s very knowing writing throughout, as though The Doctor knows he is in a story of classic motif’s. Brady reveals that the Professor arrived in town a few weeks ago, selling his Pneumatic Men to the great and good. He would have revealed more, but it seems that person wasn’t Brady at all, just a copy of a dead man. As Admiral Ackbar would say ‘it’s a trap!’

Turns out the main villain, who masqueraded as both the Professor and Constable, is a bio-engineered proto-form sent out by an alien race to find a world to take as theirs is dying. The Earth wasn’t the original destination, or the backwards era they fell into, so they were playing the long game, waiting until technology could catch up to then subjugate Earth. Invasion 101, textbook. The Doctor of course has done this many times, and deals with things nicely, ending both the proto-form and the invasion, and setting things back to their previous normal robot-less ways. The 4 page ‘The Road to…’ taster is great fun, with The Eleventh Doctor struggling to just relax, as Rory and Amy sit watching TV. He manages to miss the call for help, as what I’m guessing is The Thirteenth Doctor struggles for assistance.

I really enjoyed this book, more so than the first issue. Peaty seems to have a nice affinity for Eleven, writing him with perfect dialogue and mannerisms, and this was exactly the type of adventure that suits him. Great stuff. Nice art by Pasquale Qualano too, if a little dense at times. There was a lot to pack in though, a full issue script having to be packed into 4 less pages. The teaser back-ups continue to be good fun, and Rachael Stott’s art was fantastic. I would love to see her on an Eleventh Doctor book permanently, but she obviously has another Doctor on the horizon.

A fun read, a fun book, fun characters. What comics should be.

****½  4.5/5

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