The Doctor Who fandom has been reeling from several body shots coming out of the last two seasons of the show, with several Timey Wimey twisty turnys having reshaped the future of the Dr Who, while also restructuring the past. Since the show’s rebirth in 2005 we have seen multiple changes to the long history of the show, but nothing has changed the history quite like journey taken by our 13th Doctor.
I am realistic enough to appreciate that the 13th Doctor is not for everyone, and some storylines have caused a lot of head scratching for seasoned Whovians. While the overarching didn’t necessarily appeal me, the one-and-done episodes of sci-fi hijinks have always presented that simple space and time adventure joy. Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror (S12e04) was a perfect example, so here I am today with an expansion to one of the stronger storylines in the 13th Doctor’s outings.
Publisher: Titan Comic
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Sarah Jacobs & John Roshell
Straight off the bat we have the awesome, fan-baiting cover featuring #13 & #10 uniting. I’m not even mad. Bait me all you like, so long as it’s drawing me in to read more content featuring perhaps the most popular Doctor Who lead of all time.
“Alternating Current” is an expansion to both BBC’s Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror and Titan Comics’ previous outing A Little Help From My Friends. Following on from their last comic outing, Team Tardis/The Fam are in a very paradox-heavy planet Earth. A paradox the Doctor caused. With many iconic structures like Big Ben and the London Underground still being present, they have become distorted with the timeline conflicts. And, as this is Doctor Who, you can expect more changes to 1903.
Artist Roberta Ingranata, who is no stranger to the Doctor Who comic universe, brings a heavily stylised approach. Space and familiar terrain are elevated by their artistic talents. The pastel colouring extending into the traditionally built-up London breathes in fresh life and inserts a sci-fi element into the mundane.
In another positive note, each human character is recognisable, highlighting key traits that make them distinctive to the average fan. Expressions are delightfully translated into the style for the most part, although some are a perhaps a little too ‘Terrance and Phillip’ for my liking, but hey, at at least they are consistent to the style and quickly become immersive.
I think if I was going to choose a singular panel that bought me joy its Rose living her best Ripley life.
So what’s so broken about 1903? Well, with both 13 and 10 uniting there is a paradox with both Timelords operating in the same space. Picking up off the back of the TV series, we return to the time of Tesla and Edison and are treated to the return of one of my favourite Doctor Who creatures, the Skithra.
Skithra are a hierarchical race with many drones and a queen operating pretty much exactly like bee colonies. The design in the series were still very alluring suffered despite the obvious budget restrictions, but artist Ingranata really captivates their nature and hauntingly beautiful design in these issues.
However, the Skithra are not alone in this warped reality, being joined here by the Sea Devils. Sea Devils are returning from the Third Doctor’s outings so may be unfamiliar to the pre Russel T. Davies Era. That said, with two races, two Timelords and a warped timeline there’s no doubt a ton of adventure to be had.
With the paradoxical meeting of both 13 and 10, the cast of this issue is greatly expanded by the inclusion of both Doctors’ companions. With the return of Rose Tyler and the mainstay of the ‘Fam’/Team Tardis, there are lots of refreshing dialog options to be explored.
10 comes from an era of anger and frustration which was all portrayed perfectly by actor/legend David Tennent. 13 has become more light hearted and whimsical who has come to terms with their own past. Between the two of them their is a real dissonance.
The Fam (dear god I hate the companions being called the Fam) have yet to appreciate the bitterness and anger of the Doctor before life as 13. I cannot say too much, but I assure you writer Jody Houser has quite the task balancing all the existing dynamics while proposing variations on established character dynamics.
So, what kind of story is this? Doctor Who covers a huge spectrum of space and time adventures, with races of people and otherworldly beings in harmony and conflict. Stories of personal pain or global suffering are also common, so where does this land? At this point, it may be a little early to say what with it being a longer story arc, but for now it’s cleverly done dumb fun – and I mean that with the most respect and sincere joy. This is made to delight fans with the subtleties of Doctor Who. The ‘what if’s’ are often the stronger parts of the series. We had these with the Doctor Who anniversary which united multiple doctors, or even the birth of Torchwood or The Sarah Jane Adventures.
This is the story of what happens when an angry, guilt-ridden 10 meets the new optimistic 13 and the new breed of companions. After all, the man who wanted no one now has no less than three companions. This is a study into the growth of the Doctor’s recent incarnations. This being the start of 13’s comic arc makes this one hell of a welcome mat to future issues and development. If these comic stories keep adding to the interesting Doctor Who episodes, we could be seeing some serious momentum for the comic timeline.