The third year of Titan’s series depicting the adventures of the Twelfth Doctor kicked off with a first issue that was a fun mash-up of iconography from the classic TV series with the fast-paced character-based storytelling approach of the modern series. It boasted a promising start for the third volume of this series. And that’s why it’s undeniably a bummer to see Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor Year Three #2 be basically a fill-in, with nothing to do with the plot of the first issue and which features a bog standard plot that may be well-executed but certainly doesn’t ever rise both the level of an average adventure.
Writer James Peaty and artist Warren Pleece deliver an issue that, had it appeared as a done-in-one palette cleanser following the conclusion of an arc, would have been a serviceable if not entirely memorable diversion. The story sees a solo Doctor arrive in an American small town in the 1950s. There he quickly becomes embroiled in an apocalyptic and definitely alien assault the town, aided by a sensible and brave waitress named Penny, and together they stand as the town’s last hope against the invading alien menace.
As far as Doctor Who plots go, you don’t get more standard than this. Peaty and Pleece are to be congratulated for the imagery of the threat, which is creepy and unsettling. They also get substantial points for how well the story captures the voice of the Twelfth Doctor, who never comes off as generically “Doctorish,” which can happen in Doctor Who comics from time to time. He’s a deceptively hard character in terms of capturing his voice, particularly his spikiness which is very particular and hard to bring across on the page without the brilliance of actor Peter Capaldi to assist the writer. The script nails this extremely well. I also liked the supporting characters, and the setting and inversion of small-town normalcy reminded me of an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” and it was fun to see the Doctor get injected into that kind of atmosphere.
The story is pretty slight and sketchy, however. The alien threat manifests itself as a gigantic smile in the sky, which is a great image, to be sure, but not one that is ever truly well-defined or motivated. The alien menace itself, once fully revealed, certainly is true to the world of Doctor Who in that it looks like something we’d see on the series. However, I couldn’t help thinking that it looked a lot like things we’ve seen may times in the series over the years, therefore coming across as pretty generic. And the resolution of the story itself is frustratingly vague and simplistic. Doctor Who as a whole has in the past relied far too heavily on barely explained gobbledygook that smacks far more of pixie dust than actual science fiction, and this issue drives right into that skid, relying on a sciencey-thing that works because it works combined with “think happy thoughts.” As a storytelling tool, it’s a total cheat, but I can’t fault the creative team too much, as it’s a cheat the series has used itself on more than one occasion over its 50+ years, and not always to ill effect.
The art in Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor Year Three #2 is terrific. It’s a horror comic approach that works really well, and I like how Pleece doesn’t try for photo-realism at all when it comes to the Twelfth Doctor, nevertheless perfectly capturing the character. There’s a ton of great detail, and the action s captured with pace and economy, an absolute must when crafting a done in one issue. As I said before, there is some really creepy imagery on display, and colorist Hi-Fi uses a neon-bright selection to give the scariness a different feel than you’d expect. The issue certainly looks great and there’s no complaints in that regard.
At the end of the day, Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor Year Three #2 is a perfectly ordinary, if unmemorable, issue. There is the possibility that this story will somehow fit in with the larger arc, but if that’s the case then surely they could something to make it feel more essential. As it is, it comes across as an odd diversion from the main story, and one that is a pretty ordinary one at that, winding up as a totally disposable issue. 6/10
Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor Year Three #2 will go on sale tomorrow, April 26, 2017.