Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #12 – Review

One of the things that Doctor Who‘s been missing since its return to telly in 2005 is the Doctor hanging out with other Time Lords. Okay, we’ve had the Master/Missy, but they’re more on the ‘mortal enemies’ side than someone you’d want to actively spend time with. We also saw the rescue of Gallifrey, but no-one there seemed like they’d be up for a laugh.

What it really needs is someone a bit like Romana, who’s rather more on the same wavelength as the Doctor. The closest we seem to have gotten so far is River Song, and she’s not even an actual Time Lord, but a ‘child of the TARDIS’, conceived by Rory and Amy while they were getting up to hanky-panky while traveling around in the Time Vortex. And even then, River has been busy playing one big game of ‘shag, marry, kill’ – and that’s just been with the Doctor.

No, what the Doctor’s really needed is a chum, someone to have a laugh and get into – and out of – scrapes with. It’s lucky, then, that this latest tale for Titan Comics’ Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor has seen her crossing paths with the Corsair, a roguish (rather than renegade) Time Lord from the Doctor’s past. However, as far as the Doctor’s concerned, the Corsair is no more, having previously come across her final resting place in Neil Gaiman’s story ‘The Doctor’s Wife’. That’s the big trouble with meeting someone in the wrong order – you can’t let on their personal future, for fear of timey-wimey consequences.

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So, the Doctor’s had to play dumb so far, and not spill the beans about just what lies ahead. Mind you, she’s also had a lot of fun so far, up to the point where they both ended up in last issue’s cliffhanger, being caught by the Corsair’s anonymous employer, the nefarious Hoarder (as seen in issues #1 to #4). At least being locked up in best Doctor Who tradition gives them the chance for a heart-to-heart-to-heart-to-heart, and clear up much of the tension which has been bubbling under since the two crossed paths again.

With the Doctor and the Corsair both in female incarnations, it’s true to say that they fail the Bechdel test during the first scene of the latest issue. However, given that the ‘man’ they’re talking about here happens to be a malevolent alien who is holding them captive, it seems only fair to give them a free pass in this instance. The pair certainly spark off each other in the best ways, and there’s some great back-and-forth, courtesy of writer Jody Houser, who really seems to have hit her stride in this latest tale.

The artwork by Rachael Stott has also got even better, not only perfectly capturing the expressiveness of Jodie Whittaker’s face, but also managing to give the Corsair a life and vibrancy of her own, especially in the full-page action sequences which we get here, during the duo’s escape bid from the clutches of the Hoarder. Added to that is the extra dimension provided by colourist Enrica Angiolini, who definitely makes things come alive with her colour palette perfectly suiting the locations and moods of each scene. This whole issue is very pleasing to the eye, which helps to make it one of the most enjoyable ones to date.

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If there’s one criticism to be levelled, it’s that Houser falls back on reintroducing characters from her previous stories yet again. While I can fully appreciate there’s some sense in having internal continuity and consistency, it does make you wonder if this is all building up to something: if so, then hopefully there will be some suitable payoff; if not, however, it would smack of self-indulgence on Houser’s part, as well as a lack of creativity, which would be a crying shame if it does happen to be the case.

All in all, though, this latest four-issue run of The Thirteenth Doctor has proved to be a triumphant return to form for Houser, so we can only hope this continues. Time, as the Doctor would probably appreciate, will no doubt tell.

Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #12 from Titan Comics is available digitally and from comic shops.

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