26th Sep2018

‘Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #0’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Richard Winnick | Art by Various | Published by Titan Comics


So, apparently there is going to be a new Doctor. Anyone heard anything about this over the last few months? Thought so. The discussion about the imminent Thirteenth Doctor has been a tad more animated than normal, due to the rather radical change in making The Doctor a she. Ah, change. Fans don’t like change, they like the safety and comfort of the familiar. I’m as guilty as any, though having been a comic book reading / TV watching fanboy for many years I’m more philosophical these days.

Change is good, because things need to be shaken up every now and again so you can appreciate the core aspects that you truly like. Anyway, change in fiction is never permanent. It’s an illusion. just enjoy the ride, it’s always worth it. Dr. Who has always been, and always will be, built on change. When Titan Comics wanted to ramp up the anticipation, they decided to publish the recent 3 issue mini-series, featuring Doctor’s 10, 11 and 12, which were loosely tied together and leading into this, the official “issue 0” prequel. A whopping 69 pages too, featuring a huge cast of artists and all anchored by Richard Dinnick’s writing. Let’s get stuck in.

The framing of this book is the regeneration from The Twelfth Doctor to the Thirteenth, and revisiting every single former incarnation along the way in the form of shared memories. Each short story emphasises some aspect, or quality, of The Doctor, each shows how The Doctor can be both consistent in intent yet different in the way he/she approaches each problem. Some versions of The Doctor are grumpy (William Hartnell’s First Doctor, Peter Capaldi’s Twelve), some are quirky (Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor, Matt Smith’s Eleven), some more physical in their approach (Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor, Christopher Ecclestone’s Ninth Doctor, and of course The War Doctor) and many others have their own characteristics, both good and bad.

Richard Dinnick skillfully weaves narrative dialogue from The Twelfth Doctor through each adventure, making this both fun and nostalgic for the long time fan, and a very useful primer of The Doctor’s history in, unusually for a Time Lord, an understandable and linear way. We can both look at the adventure as it happens, and with the Doctor’s hindsight. Great writing. I like the way as well that the regeneration continues in between the stories, starting with Peter Capaldi then transitioning over several pages through the book until we have Jodie Whittaker by the final page. Clever.

It’s not just a kind of greatest hits though, Dinnick has subtly thrown some relevance in there as well. The Fifth Doctor tale sees a character gender swap from male to female, ret conning that into The Doctor’s past. The Tenth Doctor’s story sees them involved in an adventure with a woman who becomes England’s first ever female Doctor. The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Doctor’s, never the most fashionable or popular are all given nice substantial stories that help them shine, the Colin Baker one especially being very good. Although I pretty much enjoyed the entire book, my favourite stories were probably the Jon Pertwee one, which just captured that era so perfectly in just a handful of pages, and the Sylvester McCoy one because it featured the classic goatee sporting Master. Classic.

So, the writing was just sublime, but what about the art? In general, very nice indeed. There was no ‘bad’ art, but as I tend to like more clean, classical layout art some stories shone more than others. The art on The Fourth, Eighth, and Tenth Doctor’s was just a little too cartoony for my taste. That would be Arianna Florean, Iolanda Zanfardino, and Giorgia Sposito for those keeping count. Mariano Laclaustra’s art was as gorgeous as ever, and a special tip of the hat to Neil Edwards, Carlos Cabrera, and Brian Williamson who also did some fine work. The main thing to take away though is that all the many different styles work, as they capture each incarnation very well indeed.

If someone was looking to get into Doctor Who and needed a starting point I would not hesitate to give them this. It’s a perfect introduction and summary of what makes The Doctor so special, which is precisely what Richard Dinnick and Titan were looking to do I’m guessing, alongside throwing us old time fans a few bones of nostalgia too. Richard Dinnick writes what can only be described as the perfect love letter for The Doctor, or technically twelve individual love letters to all the previous Doctor’s. That’s a whole lotta love.

Change reminds us why we love an idea, or character as much as we do. Nothing could sum up better than this book why we love Doctor Who so much.

***** 5/5

Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #0 is out today from Titan Comics.


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