At long last, the Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious event arrives. Does the comic portion of the proceedings do enough to keep readers wanting more than just issue #2?
Written by Jody Houser
Illustrated by Roberta Ingranata
Colored by Enrica Eren Angiolini
Lettered by Richard Starkings of Comicraft
A thrilling new adventure for the Tenth Doctor (as played by fan-favorite David Tennant) that sees the shocking return of his deadliest enemies: the Daleks! But things aren’t what they seem – time is all wrong, and something is coming that terrifies even the Daleks…
The first of two oversized issues kicking off the BBC’s highly anticipated multi-platform Doctor Who epic, Time Lord Victorious!
Right from the first page of this comic, you know this story’s going to be epic. As you snake your way through the timeline of this multiplatform event, lasting six months and covering everything from comics to audio to a live theater experience (which apparently is still happening, in spite of COVID-19), you get a sense of scale of the story to be told.
That puts a heavy load of expectations on this simple floppy.
But this is a creative team that knows and loves Doctor Who, one who successfully rebooted Titan’s existing line with Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor in a way that broadens the fanbase from the TV show to discover those stories in a new medium. And they can handle other Doctors with care, as seen from the most recent arc which featured a crossover with David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and one of his classic stories, “Blink.”
Now it is time to take the reins of Ten and develop him in his own story, and not just a comic story, but a large-scale event.
Has this group not just met expectations, but exceeded them? Absolutely.
When we last left Doctor Who comics, Ten and Thirteen and their respective companions made their way back from Swinging Sixties London and the Weeping Angels to their proper timelines. Or so they thought. Thirteen and the fam find themselves in a post-apocalyptic London and Ten . . . well, Ten doesn’t seem to remember anything. And the TARDIS doesn’t either. It’s in this moment of vulnerability he finds himself face-to-face (or face-to-eye-stalk) with any Doctor’s worst nightmare: the Daleks. But they’re not here to kill him. They need his help. Something is out there that scares the Daleks, and that’s saying something. Old foes now must work together to prevent total and catastrophic destruction of life.
This is an oversized issue, clocking in at 52 pages. It’s a length that’s just right for growing this kind of story: not too short that worldbuilding gets rushed, but not too long that Houser has to pad her script with unnecessary details. Ten proves to be a good match for the tale to tell, providing the kind of cheeky humor that makes for buddy comedy when the buddies are complete opposites. (Think Arya and The Hound from Game of Thrones.) There’s also dual layers of mystery: the surface pursuit of a dangerous enemy, and the inner pursuit of the Doctor as to his missing memories. Are the two connected? Perhaps. It’s a classic hero’s journey tale full of space monsters, something Doctor Who does best no matter the medium.
If I am left with any questions about Houser’s script, it is this: how does this connect – – if at all – – to the Doctor Who comic stories we just left? Is the apocalypse Thirteen found when she returned to present-day London a result of the events Ten currently stares down? Is that something he will be able to prevent?
I remain impressed with the rich level of detail Roberta Ingranata and colorist Enrica Eren Angiolini bring to their work. Part of the benefit of telling this kind of story on the page is that artistic vision has no constraints of budget. You can explore large scale worlds without having to worry about location filming or CGI effects. Every surface is brought to beautiful life, whether it’s the floor of the TARDIS or the outer reaches of space. Blues and yellows remain dominant in the color palette, and Angliolini augments them with touches of the rest of the rainbow and clever grading and shading. Of most importance is one thing I have seen Doctor Who artists struggle with most over the years: the look of the Doctor. It’s no small feat taking something from three dimensions and converting it into two, and time and again I see artists try but fail at drawing the Doctor. As with the previous series, Ingranata proves she knows her subject and can deliver on that.Continued below
We don’t often give praise to letterers, but I love how distinct and fun the lettering for Dalek dialogue appears. The Daleks themselves are binary beings, rigid, devoid of personality. So it’s a fun ironic choice for Starkings to choose a very distinct typeface, one in contrast to their domelike shapes with sharp lines and angles. It gives a certain type of personality to these very less than personable creatures – – very important since, for what may be the first time in history, we’re being encouraged to root for them to survive along with the Doctor.
If I have any hesitations about this issue, it’s the idea that this is part of such a large event. BBC event producer James Goss states in interviews that you can read the components of these stories separately. You won’t need to read the Doctor Who 2021 Annual or “Monstrous Beauty” (the comic that is part of the next three issues of Doctor Who Magazine starting on September 17th) to continue things after next month’s second and final “Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious.” But I fear that there will be small nuances from this comic that may not be resolved after that, nuances that will only be resolved in other media – – and that may be an undertaking some fans cannot or do not want to take.
(That aside: if you’re interested in Multiversity covering all aspects of this event, sound off in the comments! We may not be able to cover the live theater experience as I am not UK-based, but we can cover as much as we can!)
Houser and company received a large remit when they came on board to reboot Doctor Who comics with Thirteen. They knocked it out of the ballpark then. And with this, they knock it out of the ballpark again.
Final Verdict: 8.1 – A compelling story showing that this creative team knows and loves Doctor Who inside and out, and certainly intrigues you for more. But will it be enough for those readers who just want to read the comic component of this event?