We’re only a few days from the premiere of Peter Capaldi‘s final full series of “Doctor Who”, and those fans who are lamenting losing their prickly, complicated Twelfth Doctor (like yours truly) can take comfort in the face that, with Titan’s Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor Year Three #1, there are still opportunities to enjoy this current Time Lord’s regeneration in all his glory. With a spooky and atmospheric opening issue by writer George Mann and artist Mariano Laclaustra, the newest volume promises to thrill fans of the series both old and new.
The issue is a bit of a rambling one, the opening instalment of an arc titled “Beneath the Waves”, but the hopscotching between settings is made engaging through a quick pace that recalls the new series, even as the subject matter evokes memories of the classic original 26 year run of the series on television. We get to see the return of a familiar face from both the earlier run of Twelfth Doctor comics as well as a few surprises from the “Doctor Who” mythos from way back, both of which are welcome.
The story is structured well, even if the narrative leans more towards keeping elements mysterious and unexplained at this point rather than laying out the direction of the arc. But it feels like Mann is merely setting up the central mysteries deliberately rather than trying to confuse, and it’s certainly enough to intrigue and bring the reader back for more. For a first issue, the story feels like an archetypal “Doctor Who” opening, namely that it’s long on creepy atmosphere, shock monster reveals, a sense of dread, and the Doctor being charmingly eccentric. It feels as if Mann really wants to tell an old-school “Doctor Who” story, drawn equally from the horror-pastiche period that dominated Tom Baker’s early tenure, merging that with the Second Doctor’s reliance on creepy monsters, and running it all though the filter of the modern era’s approach to character. And all of that sounds just great to me.
Laclaustra’s art is solid throughout. I’m never a huge fan in photo-realism, especially when it comes to licensed comics. They often feel stiff, favoring getting a likeness perfect over an organic quality. But here the artist perfectly captures Capaldi without it coming across as stiff or posed, and his command of panel structure keeps the energy and pace of the story moving at lightning speed. The issue accentuates the spookiness when it needs to, but never feels the need to overplay its hand. Part of the success of the that no doubt is also down to colorist Carlos Cabrera, and certain aspects of the story already look to rely on judicious use of color, especially when not to use it.
Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor Year Three #1 should please all fans of the venerable TV series with its engaging story that recalls the best aspects of many iterations of the series. If the creative team can deliver on the promise of this mysterious and creepy opening chapter, it’ll be another success. 8.5/10
Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor Year Three #1 hits stores April 12, 2017