15th Nov2021

‘Doctor Who: Empire of the Wolf #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Jody Houser | Art by Roberta Ingranata | Published by Titan Comics

The last time Jody Houser and Roberta Ingranata were playing in the Dr. Who sandbox, they were giving us the rather fabulous Missy 4-parter. Since then, not much in the The Doctor’s comic world, though a lot of news in The Doctor’s TV world. A new Doctor on the horizon it seems. That is for another day of course, and for now we’ll focus on the classics. This book looks at first glance as the perfect playground for Jody Houser’s writing. She loves her classic Doctor’s, and is the master, no pun intended, of adding new wrinkles to what has come before. Let’s jump in.

The ‘Previously…’ blurb, which all books should have, gives us a nice idea of what’s to come. The Eighth Doctor, the last innocent incarnation before the Time War, is still happily adventuring across time and space. The more jaded Eleventh Doctor, having lost longtime companions Amy and Rory, is looking to escape from it all for a while. Former companion Rose is still living out her life on an alternate world with the human regeneration of the Tenth Doctor. Another version of Rose is the Bad Wolf Empress. Rose and Empress Rose, despite being different people in different realities completely unaware of each other, have been having visions. Of each other’s lives. Empress Rose decides to summon, if she can find him, The Doctor.

What she means, of course, is ‘her’ Doctor. The first person to run into her trail is the Eighth Doctor. Sontaran armies in Twentieth Century London tend to interest Time Lords of any era, unsurprisingly. He encounters Rose, now pulled from her reality to this one. He, of course, has yet to meet her in normal time (she’s the companion of his next incarnation) though she knows all about him. Although not this version. Things are never easy with The Doctor. He agrees to help her return to her reality, leaving the Sontarans on the back burner for now. This is the gentleman adventurer regeneration after all. Rose, after all this time, is back in the TARDIS.

Meanwhile, a later incarnation of the TARDIS has shuttled The Eleventh Doctor to an inhospitable sand planet, despite being asked to take him somewhere nice. The TARDIS is worse than any companion at times. The Sontarans have pitched up there too, as has Empress Rose’s envoy who has been trying to find The Doctor. Well he’s found him, just not the version Rose wants. Not that she knows that yet. Actually, the confusion goes both ways, as The Doctor is told Rose Tyler needs his help, but he is thinking of the Rose his previous self left on that alternate dimension world. Your head might be hurting at this point if you are not up on your Doctor Who mythology. Anyway, it looks like Eleven will be helping, but this Rose isn’t his Rose, its Empress Rose. Got it? Good.

This book almost reminded me of an episode of Frasier, there being so many misunderstandings and false assumptions by various characters. Virtually nobody has ended up with the person they were actually looking for. It did, however, make for a wildly entertaining read which I thoroughly enjoyed. To be honest, I’d be surprised at picking up a Who book by Jody Houser I didn’t enjoy, but you can safely add this to the ‘great fun’ pile. Once again, the strength of the book is both in the plot itself, always a left field idea, and the characterisation of the main characters. They have literally stepped off the screen. Roberta Ingranata’s art is as great as ever, she draws perfect likenesses of all the main players, and has the mannerisms down to a fine art. The dialogue works so well because she gives us such a great visual aid. A great creative team.

This was very much a set up issue, but this has all the hallmarks of being an absolute classic. Time and Space might not be big enough for all this fun.

**** 4/5

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