Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor: Year Two #1 – Review

It seems there are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and a certain Time Lord running into another one of him/herself at some point.

The series managed to go as long as ten years before there was a multi-Doctor story on TV. It seems like you can’t get the genie back into the bottle, and ever since then, there’s been a desire to have the Doctor cross paths with an earlier incarnation or two (or several). Usually, it tends to happen in the gravest of cosmic emergencies occurring. Well, that or major anniversaries.

As time passes by, however, opportunities to have multiple Doctors to meet up on telly seem to reduce, not only due to the actors inevitably ageing (some more visibly than others, to be fair), but also – in the fullness of time – going up to that big curtain call in the sky. It also doesn’t help when it comes to these reunions if some of the Doctors decide they don’t want to come back, so they get stuck in time eddies, or end up needing to be written out. Eccleston, I’m looking at you.

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Suffice it to say, some of these special adventures haven’t been all they could be. As a fan, you’re always conscious of who’s absent, or recast, or doesn’t look quite like they used to (Steven Moffat even made multiple jokes about that last point when he brought Peter Davison back as the Doctor for a vignette alongside David Tennant, bringing up his weight and his thinning hair). For big celebratory events, these are consequently often coloured by an ever-so-slight twinge of sadness.

Nowadays, of course, Doctor Whos become a multimedia enterprise. As well as the printed page (both in book and comic form), we also have officially licensed audios from Big Finish. Unlike the medium of TV, time’s winged chariot doesn’t need to be as noticeable as it rolls on incrementally. Each Doctor can stay as youthful and vibrant both on paper and audio as when they were on television, and it can be a much more satisfying experience as a result (as long as the story’s there to back it up, of course).

Titan Comics has already published a number of crossover tales, such as ‘Prisoners Of Time’ (for the 50th anniversary), ‘Four Doctors’, and ‘Supremacy Of The Cybermen’ (for their 50th anniversary celebration in 2016). With Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor – Year Two #1, however, it feels a very different proposition to previous stories where Doctors have crossed paths. Most significantly, this latest body is the first occasion the Doctor has actually swapped genders when regenerating.

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As we now have a female Doctor, it poses a number of new and unique challenges and twists, compared to the multi-Doctor stories of yore. For starters, there’s been traditional banter where the Doctors end up ribbing each other about their respective appearances; having a lady Doctor, however, means that any such joshing should have a rather different complexion than before. As the other Doctor here is David Tennant’s version, it may not be a big deal to him, as Ten always seemed the most grounded and ‘normal’ out of all of them.

Another thing to consider is that, as far as Team TARDIS are concerned, they only know the Doctor as being a woman, so meeting an earlier incarnation may be quite the experience for Yaz, Ryan and Graham. It’s something the TV show has touched upon recently, in ‘Spyfall’ (Part 1), where Graham’s quite incredulous to find out that the Doctor was telling the truth about having previously been a bloke. Here, they all seem quite comfortable with the notion, so it’s left to your own headcanon to decide whether this comic comes before or after what’s just been on telly.

Writer Jody Houser takes quite the novel approach here, by setting the tale right in the middle of another one – this all takes place in 1969, in the middle of ‘Blink’, during the part of the story where the Doctor and companion Martha Jones have been flung back in time by the Weeping Angels. Both of them are trying to get by until DI Billy Shipton gets sent back to 1969 as well, so that he can play his part in getting the pair reunited with the TARDIS. Timey-wimey stuff. It’ll make more sense if you know ‘Blink’. And if you don’t, then watch it, because it’s great.

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Of course, tangling with your own timeline can be a pretty perilous thing, even (or especially perhaps) for a Time Lord. So, Houser knows the Doctor has to try and limit exposure to himself, in order to avoid messing things up, and sends Team TARDIS after Ten, while Thirteen goes to see Martha. A lovely touch is when she uses the alias ‘Jane Smith’, given that the Doctor’s longtime alias is ‘John Smith’, and this was a big part of when Martha and Ten first met in ‘Smith And Jones’.

The Doctor and her fam only end up in London 1969 due to the TARDIS taking them there (rather than Woodstock). She decides that the TARDIS must have brought them there for some reason, but it does seem rather a stretch that the first thing she thinks of is her earlier self and Martha happening to be stuck there, ergo that must be what they’re here for. Mind you, at least it gets us into the action quicker, and I feel sure there’s been far more strained deductive leaps in Doctor Who before, so I’ll let it pass. Just.

As things stand, it’s all shaping up to be a very new type of Doctor-meets-Doctor escapade, and I’m ready for issue #2. Allons-y!

Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor – Year Two #1 is available on 8th January from Titan Comics.

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