The Doctor returns to comics this week, wearing her new face and with her new friends. It also comes with a great creative all-female creative team. So how was the issue?
The issue comes from Jody Houser, Rachael Stott, Enrica Eren Anglioni, and Richard Starkings with Viviana Spinelli, Sara Michieli, Andrea Moretto, Sarah Jacobs, and John Roshell. As a side note, it’s great to see Titan Comics credit a lot of the unsung people who created the book, such as flatters and lettering assistants.
The Doctor, Ryan, Yaz are admiring a sentient nebula when a strange portal opens in front of them. They track the disturbance, which the Doctor remembers from her previous three incarnations, and predict where and when it will show up next. They rescue a mysterious scientist (who we’ve seen in the issue’s B-plot), but before they can get any answers a mysterious police force materializes to arrest them!
To be honest, I went into The Thirteenth Doctor #1 blind. I hadn’t seen any of the new season yet, just clips and recaps. I definitely don’t recommend doing that–I immediately found the premiere on the BBC America website, and re-read the issue. Before you read this, at least watch the series premiere!
So now, with that out of the way, Houser very quickly captures the voices and personalities of the characters. The Doctor in particular shines, with an enthusiastic take any Whovian will recognize, but also the distinct characteristics that Jodie Whittaker has given her incarnation of the Time Lord. Yaz and Graham click very well too, but Ryan is only given a couple moments (though they are perfectly in character for what we would expect).
In addition, Houser has crafted an interesting mystery. Who are these thieves we follow through the B-plot, their benefactor and their pursuers? It rings true of a classic Who plot without leaning into the familiar plots, monsters or devices we all know.
Stott has made no secret about her Doctor Who fandom, and it shows in so many ways on the page. She translates the character from Houser’s script into an energetic presence on the page, along with brilliant takes on the Doctor’s frequent asides. The creature and alien planet designs are also fantastic. The only downside so far are the non-lead human characters, who looked far more like cartoony compared to their more photo-real co-stars.
Anglioni’s color work is astonishing, especially when you consider that she basically puts a nebula on the page by herself. It’s a gorgeous rainbow of color, and it doesn’t let up through the rest of the book. It was a great introduction to her work for me.
While this shouldn’t be your introduction to the adventures of the Thirteenth Doctor, any Whovian should subscribe to this clear labor of love.
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #1 is available now from Titan Comics.