Pullbox Reviews: The Thirteenth Doctor- Sprinting into the Next Big Adventure

Bestselling comics writer Jody Houser and fan-favorite artists Rachael Stott and Enrica Eren Angiolini team up to launch the Doctor and her friends into a whole new universe of unforgettable adventures!

This first collection of the Thirteenth Doctor’s comic book series sees the newest incarnation of the Doctor , along with her new companions- Graham, Yaz, and Ryan- trailblazing through time tackling vile villains, avoiding an intergalactic alien civil war, uncovering the truth behind a secret human time travel experiment, and doing battle with an alien hoarder obsessed with amassing the greatest treasure in the history of the universe!

With this new doctor in charge, one thing’s for certain: there’s never a dull moment or a second to spare, even if you are a Time Lord!

Following on the heels of the new series of perennial sci fi favorite Doctor Who, Titan Comics continues its long-running partnership with the BBC’s even longer running fan favorite sci fi show, now starring Jodi Whittaker. With new companions in tow, the Doctor discovers a rookie time traveler, trapped in a time vortex (hate those pesky things) and desperate to get back to rescue his partner (cuz when you’re a rookie time traveler, you should always use the buddy system… obviously). The whole time, the Doctor’s still getting used to her new body and jumbled memories… although she’s still fairly certain that she’s usually right about most things the majority of the time. The rest of the time…?

Come on… the fun is in the discovery, right?

I wasn’t especially keen on Peter Capaldi’s run as the Doctor but was a big fan of David Tennant and Matt Smith in their respective runs. When I’d heard that the first ever female Doctor was in the works, I was actually kinda into the idea, particularly with some of the names being tossed around (Hayley Atwell would’ve brought a lot to the role, and I sincerely hope that someday Masie Williams gets her wish and gets a run at it). When Jodi Whittaker was announced, I was neither disappointed nor excited. I just didn’t know much about her and wasn’t all that familiar with her prior work. When I started hearing all of the shade being thrown her way before she’d even started filming, I pulled a complete flip and decided to root for her sight unseen.

What can I say? I hate bullies, internet trolls, and bullying internet trolls most of all.

Then I started seeing some of preview footage, and I thought that this could very easily be a fantastic run for Doctor Who. Even in the commercials, Whittaker brought a thrill of discovery to the character that Capaldi’s more jaded version lacked. The “leap without looking” attitude is what I really liked with both Tennant and Smith, and everything that was being shown leading up to the new series’ release hinted at a return to that in a big way, with a charm that’s all Whittaker.

Joday Houser is apparently of the same opinion, and has made the thrill of the unknown a huge part of the Doctor’s personality. There’s an unabashed joy to this old new Time Lord, a touch of innocence as the Doctor adjusts to her new eyes and gets reacquainted with old memories. Houser doesn’t short her supporting cast, giving the Doctor’s new companions plenty to do, each allowed to play to their own strengths. Ryan and Yaz are both young and eager for adventure, while Graham’s more mature outlook brings a measured but no less curious approach. As to the relationship between the four travelers, Houser sums it up perfectly when the Doctor explains why she chose the three to be her Companions. Dedicated Whovians are already aware of the hows and whys of the relationship, and newcomers to the lore shouldn’t have to worry about me spoiling the reveal for them, so I’ll just leave it for the readers of the book to discover on their own.

On the other side of the comicbook coin, the artistic team of Rachael Stott (assisted by Giorgia Sposito & Valeria Favoccia), Enrica Eren Angiolini (with Viviana Spinelli) on colors, and lettered by Sarah Jacobs & John Roshell has a lot to live up to. Stott has really dug into the new Doctor’s look, and is able to capture all of the exuberance Jodi Whittaker is able to display on the screen. And it isn’t just the Doctor who gets a new look. The one other character whose time on the long-running show is every bit as extensive as the renegade Time Lord’s, gets a face lift… on the inside (where its bigger) at least. The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) has remade herself to reflect her new pilot, and Stott captures the bright new look on the page.

Stott’s pictures are brought to two-dimensional life through the combined coloring efforts of Enrica Eren Angiolini & Viviana Spinelli. Every environment is given its own specific tone and color palette, giving the reader a helpful clue as to where we might be at any given time. And as we’re following the Doctor and Company, who never seem to stop moving (a fact that’s voiced more than once in these pages), we always seem to be finding something and someplace new. Getting that simple color cue as a scene shifts from one place or time to another helps a reader stay in the story without having to stop to wonder where (or when) we are.

Always happy to give the nod to the unsung heroes in the medium of comicbooks, I have to say something about the lettering by Sarah Jacobs & John Roshell. While not overtly flashy or eye catching, it’s always done with an eye (or ear) toward tone of voice. Working with Houser’s dialogue, and never against the visuals laid down by Stott and crew, Jacobs & Roshell put emphasis where it’s needed. And I don’t know how they managed this, but even when the script itself doesn’t lean us into the many accents representative of the UK, the lettering seemed to imply it. Whether the accents were there or not, I always heard it.

Maybe it’s just me… I’ve been watching Doctor Who, off and on again, since Tom Baker wore the scarf and floppy hat… but the Doctor is at her/his very best when there’s that touch of mania in the character. It isn’t enough that the Doctor enjoys the adventure… there has to be the thrill at the possibility of crashing headlong into the unknown. The Thirteenth Doctor is off to an outstanding start in that respect, here in the hands of everyone at Titan Comics. While I have yet to watch Lucky 13 beyond her opening episode, I may be fixing that… thanks in no small part to what I read here.


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