Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #2.1
Written by Jody Houser
Art by Roberta Ingranata, Enrica Angiolini and Shari Chankhamma
Lettering by Richard Starkings and Sarah Hedricks
Published by Titan Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Titan Comics’ second year of The Thirteenth Doctor kicks off a moody multi-Doctor team-up in Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #2.1. Carefully constructed around established TV canon by writer Jody Houser, this perfect jumping-on point for new readers sets the stage to unite Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation and “Fam” alongside David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and fan-favorite companion Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones. Though the two Doctors don’t actually meet in #2.1, Houser neatly sets up the incoming double act, mixing up the companions and evocatively teasing the arc’s antagonists, the deadly Weeping Angels and shape-stealing Autons.
Fresh off their holiday special, the Thirteenth Doctor, Graham, Ryan, and Yaz are looking to take in some culture in the form of Woodstock. But the TARDIS is acting cross and instead deposits them in London, 1969 - the very same year the Doctor was stranded with Martha thanks to a Weeping Angels attack in 2007’s iconic episode “Blink.” Fearing a deadly paradox, Thirteen tasks her companions with tracking down her former incarnation while she tracks down Martha in order to suss out where they are in their attempts to return to the present. All while keeping an eye peeled for the very creatures who stranded them in the first place!
While the issue could have used a bit more explicit frights from the Angels and only teased Autons, as well as maybe at the very least a cliffhanger meeting of Jodie Whittaker and David Tennant’s Doctors, Jody Houser sets up the story very well in this opening issue. Keeping a close eye on established TV canon, Houser plays up the faux domestic life Ten and Martha have to keep up as well as Ryan, Yaz, and Graham’s confusion with being faced with their Doctor’s past.
Houser’s easy capturing of Jodie Whittaker’s voice has long been a highlight of this volume, but it is nice to see it also extends to David Tennant’s waifish Tenth Doctor as well. He bounds and banters across the whole issue tracking an energy signal, while the “Fam” struggles to keep up. Again, I would have loved some more interactions between the whole cast, but this opening issue at least establishes everyone, human and Time Lord alike, well separately.
Houser even delivers a few chilling teases of the arc’s antagonists. Describing the Angels to Ryan, Yaz, and Graham in a moody flashback, the Thirteenth Doctor reminds the reader of how they attack and how she and Martha were time-napped in the first place. From there every statue then becomes a suspect, highlighted by the creative team’s staging and scene blocking. The Autons still looming in the shadows are given less of a set-up. Their interference in history is related to news of people going missing from greater London, but it all culminates in a classic horror inspired cliffhanger sending us into the next issue. Mood seems to be the name of the game of this issue, beyond obvious exposition and for a first issue of a second year, it’s an interesting gamble to start with.
Also interesting is the continuously impressive artwork of series artist Roberta Ingranata. Supported by the rich colors and judicious flats of Enrica Angiolini and Shari Chankhamma respectfully, Ingranata immerses us into 1960s London along with the companions and Jodie’s Doctor. Armed with both expansive cityscapes and moody interiors, the artwork brings to mind a very specific and engaging time period and populates it with many characters readers know and love. Again, while the issue would have been stronger overall with the meeting of the Doctors or another stagey scare from the Angels or the Autons, Roberta Ingranata, Enrica Angiolini, and Shari Chankhamma still make it look and function like a well-produced Doctor Who historical story.
Though saddled with a semi-confusing numbering Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #2.1 is a solid jumping on point for new readers and another wonderful showing from the Titan Comics’ ongoing creative team. Delivering a potentially great story stocked with good characterizations, this new issue looks to bring back the timey-wimey charms of a classic era multi-Doctor story, but with all the bells and whistles of the modern TV era. The time vortex will tell if it’s a true success, but for now, The Thirteenth Doctor #2.1 is a good start.