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Doctor Who – The Eleventh Doctor Year Two #14 might be the most ungainly series title of an issue I’m ever going to review. Somewhat bizarrely, though enjoyably, the story between the covers is just as overstuffed and unwieldily. You’d think that would result in kind of a mess, what we get instead is a fever dream-like spectacular, with some bold and unsettlingly strange visuals that push the boundaries of how disturbing this title will be.
The story of the issue represents the beginning of the climax to the Eleventh Doctor’s second year in Titan Comics, and while I could try to summarize what’s happened so far and the set up for this issue, I’m not sure that would the wide-screen strangeness of Si Spurrier‘s story any justice at all. Suffice to say, the issue revolves around the Time War, the Daleks, Abslom Daak, the dangers of blind faith, Dalek Gods, the Doctor’s worst ideas, time paradoxes and the Then and Now.
If you like your science fiction to have these kinds of horizons, then you’re going to like this issue. If you prefer more straight-forward space opera storytelling, you might find yourself a bit baffled. But even so, there’s lots to enjoy on display. Spurrier writes the Eleventh Doctor well, capturing the different way the Time War haunted him as opposed to his predecessor. While the Tenth Doctor could never escape his emotions about it, the Eleventh wanted to forget what he was capable of, though it was never far from his mind.
The issue ties up a lot of loose ends and offers up revelations, but it doesn’t do so in a orderly, laid out fashion. It all happens in a rush of action and conflict, and therefore it occasionally goes by at a clip that forced me to stop and go back just to clarify what Spurrier had written. I’m not sure that’s a weakness, however. It just means you have to read a little more closely, take a little more time.
Given how much of the issue is expository in nature, it’s therefore interesting how energized and well-paced it feels. The Doctor and Alice are always racing to the next thing, the plot is always rising throughout the issue. Therefore, by the final page, things feel like they couldn’t get any crazier just before things of course get crazier.
The art by Simon Fraser handles all the craziness really well, even accentuating the feel of things spiralling out of control with a great sense of dynamism and pace. The Dalek hybrid who appears in the issue is pretty damn unsettling, their face constantly shifting as pieces of Dalek tech strains against its human form. You get close-ups of the character with a Dalek eyestalk providing and bulging under the skin or through the eye, with a Dalek grill revealed inside the mouth. All before the whole thing shifts again and a different part of the tech strains against the human flesh. It’s a strong body horror vibe that’s almost too graphic, even for “Doctor Who”, but it’s really well realized.
All in all, the issue represents a solid opening act for the climax of the series, and its boldness means that it comes alive in an unconventional way. It feels both very true to “Doctor Who,” but with a willingness to be weirder and achieve greater scale than the TV series is capable of. If at times it feels like it gets away from the reader (or Spurrier) just a tad, that’s only due to how many balls its trying to juggle, and mostly successfully. A fun, weird and exciting issue. 8/10