One of the huge joys of comic book universes has been the possibility of crossovers and team-ups, where characters meet up and join forces to fight the good fight, shoulder to shoulder. Doctor Who comic strips seem to have taken this idea very much to heart(s), giving us opportunities to have various Doctors crossing their own paths and running into each other, sometimes with alarming regularity, especially of late.
In Titan’s recent Doctor Who Comic adventures, we have seen David Tennant and Jodie Whittaker’s incarnations of the Time Lord meeting up a handful of times now, which is also in addition to the new console game Doctor Who: The Edge Of Reality. It seems that you can have too much of a good thing, and with every successive multi-Doctor story starring Ten and Thirteen, it feels very much like the law of diminishing returns in effect.
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Honestly, it has started to feel that conjoined twins spend less time in each other’s company than this pairing. Doctor Who Volume 1: Alternating Current gathers together their latest meeting, from the opening four-issue run of Doctor Who Comic. Here, writer Jody Houser gives us a tale which has all of the timey-wimey shenanigans you might expect when Doctor meets Doctor, with another reality-shattering paradox in prospect. Business as usual, then.
This time round, the timeline has been altered, leading to a changed reality in which one of the Doctor’s newest foes has taken control of the Earth, with the help of one of his oldest. One of the big selling points of the story has been the return of the Sea Devils, first seen taking on Jon Pertwee back in the 1970s, and then allying with the Silurians to challenge Peter Davison in the 1980s. Having been absent from our screens for more than three decades, their return here really should be a big event.
Sadly, the whole opportunity has been entirely squandered by Houser, making them play second fiddle to the new kids on the block, by turning the Sea Devils into little more than henchmen (or henchreptiles, if you like). It seems amazing to think that if you have one of the classic monsters at your disposal, you use them as hired grunts, and then dispense with them altogether for a good 50% of the story. The Sea Devils are really superfluous to proceedings, so using them here is just a massive waste.
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There are probably a couple of good stories in here, vying for attention with each other, but Houser has mashed them all together in a rather unsatisfying manner, making it feel a bit like a horse designed by committee. You have to admit that it really is somewhat of a bold creative choice to make this a semi-do over of one of the weaker TV episodes from the last couple of series, and while there is some merit to trying this, it ultimately lacks momentum and focus.
In fact, there are just far too many ideas thrown into the mix for the story to be able to breathe, and it ends up rushing to a rather garbled resolution which throws up more questions in the end than it actually answers. Paring things down greatly would have been a much wiser choice, and made this feel less as though it was written based on a prescribed shopping list of elements. While still entertaining enough in itself, this is a rare swing and a miss from Houser.
Doctor Who: Volume One – Alternating Current is out now from Titan Comics.