With two Doctors and two Rose Tylers in the same place, at the same time, things are reaching crisis point in the latest issue of Titan Comics’ Doctor Who: Empire Of The Wolf. If things were not already precarious enough, it appears that the situation is about to become a lot more complicated, as loyalties are shifting, and a surprise lies in wait…
One of the biggest problems with Titan’s Doctor Who Comic series is that it feels as though things are just becoming too repetitive, and old ground being retrodden. Whilst it was all entertaining to begin with, there are only so many times you can drink from the same well. Old Doctor? Check. Returning companion? Check. Sequel to earlier comic book adventure? Check. That snake just keeps on eating its own tail (or maybe ‘tale’ might be more apt).
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When novelty needs to be your main selling point, you need to be trying a bit harder to engage and retain your audience, as having a limited bag of tricks only works for so long, and familiarity breeds discontent (but not yet contempt, it must be said). With the television series having managed to up its game markedly thanks to its experiment with Doctor Who: Flux, the comic is now starting to lag behind and feels at risk of being old hat, if all it can do is keep recycling the same few ideas in rotation, ad infinitum.
However, the comic book is not without its merits, and there is still much to enjoy here, but it just comes across as being a bit less fresh than before. One advantage is the two Doctors meeting up here – Eight and Eleven – have yet to cross paths properly, on a one-to-one basis; as such, their interaction is quite the big draw, especially as the Eleventh Doctor is at a point where he has just experienced the loss of his two best friends, Amy and Rory, and still feels raw from that, which is something recognised by his earlier self.
As he has also yet to rewrite his personal history in the 50th anniversary special ‘The Day Of The Doctor’, Eleven is still in many respects ‘The Man Who Forgets’, as he was described in that episode. Having tried his best to put his past behind far him, including all of the horrors of the Last Great Time War, having a living, breathing reminder of that in front of him – particularly in the form of an incarnation who is yet to fully experience all of that – will understandably make one a little bit on the prickly side, besides all of the normal inter-Doctor bants and bickering.
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The characterisation is largely on point, and the story seems to be moving forward rather nicely at this stage. Where the side seems to be let down somewhat is with the artwork, as the consistency in Roberta Ingranata’s drawings does veer all over the place at times. You can perhaps forgive the use of promotional photographs in order to try and capture some of the actors’ likenesses occasionally, as this is something that artists have done in TV and movie tie-in strips for as long as they have been around. No real harm done there.
However, one of the most vexing things is that, having taken all of that care and effort to make the characters on the page look like they do on screen for the majority of the comic strip, Ingranata then veers rather wildly off-piste at times, at one stage in the proceedings making Rose look like remarkably a wide-lipped Muppet. It can feel incredibly jarring whenever that happens, and those frames really do stand out from the page, in a decidedly not-good way.
Bad Wolf, you might reasonably expect here; bad art, not so much.
Doctor Who: Empire Of The Wolf #3 is out on 12th January from Titan Comics.