‘The Twelfth Doctor grapples with two deadly small towns in this brand-new collection, kicking off year-three! It’s the return of fan-favourite comics companion, space bassist Hattie, as the Doctor takes her for the best fish and chips in the galaxy. But there’s something ancient and unknowable beneath the waves of the 1970’s seaside town where they end up – something that weaves itself into Hattie’s dreams and drags itself up onto the land in mounds of shambling seaweed!’
The latest Twelfth Doctor Adventures Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor – Time Trials Volume 1: The Terror Beneath sees the Doctor stumble across two small towns with very strange events happening.
The first story sees the Doctor once again teaming up with Hattie, a young woman from the future space colony The Twist, who shares the Doctors love of music and uses her adventures with him to inspire her songs; as the Doctor takes her away from her new found fame and success, letting her spend some time in a quite English seas-side town in the 1970’s.
As with typical Doctor Who fashion, however, things aren’t quite as they seem in Seaton Bay, as a strange psychic presence is sending creatures made of seaweed into the town, resulting in dozens of residents falling into comas.
The story feels a lot like classic episodes of Doctor Who, probably in large part to the quite British town setting, something that happened a lot in the old stories. The sleepy seaside location and 1970’s settings instantly brings to mind stories like ‘The Daemons’, ‘The Android Invasion’, and ‘The Curse of Fenric’, all of which used their locations to great effect.
The seaweed monsters also bring to mind images of the Sea-Devils emerging from the ocean in the Jon Pertwee stories, with monsters emerging from the sea something that has gone on to become iconic for the franchise.
The second story, which has the Doctor travelling alone, sees him land in a small American town of Sweet Haven, where reality has warped out of all recognition. The towns people have become raging maniacs, dark clouds blocking out the sun, and a giant smile hanging in the sky.
Things only become stranger when the Doctor locates the source of the mysterious events, an old farm house that has been transformed into something that resembles a clown’s nightmare home, psychedelic colours, weird angles, and the same type of smile that’s hanging in the sky.
Despite some early promise in this story, with the inhabitants of Sweet Haven turning into a ravenous horde that has trapped a few besieged people in the police station, the story feels like it lacks any real big conclusion, with the Doctor defeating the enemy with almost no effort at all. Whilst the Doctor is an incredibly smart person, and can win against overwhelming odds, it can be a bit dull to see him solve a problem within seconds without having to really try.
The art styles of each story differs greatly too, with the first story having a very elegant, almost painted style, whilst the second has a much rougher hand drawn style, which enhances the bizarre and almost crazy events. The art styles are nothing alike, and stand out starkly against each other, but both of them complement their respective stories and work well to create certain feels.
Whilst I personally found the second story to be weaker than the first, both stories had interesting plots, complete with diverse supporting characters, and small town locations that will be instantly recognisable to most readers. A good pair of stories that highlights how different and diverse Doctor Who can be when making use of ‘a small town’ as its main setting.
A well told pair of stories, with some beautiful art from Mariano Laclaustra, Doctor Who: Time Trials – The Terror Beneath, is a book that will appeal to fans of classic Doctor Who as well as new fans.