Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Rachael Stott, Giorgia Sposito & Valeria Favoccia
Chronology Placement: Set after “Resolution”
This Graphic Novel collects the following stories:
- Doctor Who: The 13th Doctor (Vol. 1) # 1 – 4
Titan Comics has been producing Doctor Who comics since July 2014, with three ongoing series that spanned the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor’s eras and the occasional miniseries featuring a classic-era Doctor. With the announcement of the Thirteenth Doctor, Titan Comics has taken the opportunity to streamline its Doctor Who output, focusing on a single flagship series that will feature the incumbent Doctor in current day adventures. With the introduction of a female Doctor and increased focus on diversity seen in the TV series, Titan Comics has taken this as an opportunity to showcase some female comic creators with Jody Houser and Rachael Stott handling script and art duties. This push for female representation in comics is a welcome one, and it is refreshing to see an all-female team working on a high-profile licenced property.
Jody Houser is becoming a very familiar name across all of my favourite franchises, having written comics for Spider-Man, Star Wars, Stranger Things and now Doctor Who. She is great at getting to the hearts of characters, and she channels the voices of the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions here perfectly. Her knack for authentic characterisation is paired alongside Rachael Stott’s stunning artwork, which manages to capture the subtle mannerisms and facial expressions of the cast, particularly Jodie Whittaker. As with her work on the Twelfth Doctor series, Stott is able to inject the fun and enthusiasm of the series onto the printed page and flawlessly replicates the energy of Season Eleven with some imaginatively alien locations – including an area that is extremely reminiscent of the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin.
Taking place during the ‘off-season’ whilst we wait for the series to return, “A New Beginning” continues to showcase the camaraderie of the Doctor and her ‘Fam’ as she takes them on a tour of the galaxy, revisiting iconic sights with new eyes. Of course, the sight-seeing doesn’t last long before the Doctor is thrown into a mystery with malfunctioning vortex manipulators and a couple of time thieves. Tightly-plotted across four issues, Houser gradually reveals the truth behind the two time-travelling art thieves and their motivations through a non-linear narrative which allows the mystery to develop nicely. Houser nails the interactions between the Doctor and her companions, noting character traits from the series such as Yaz’s insecurity, Ryan’s bravery and Graham’s deadpan approach. She also transfers Jodie Whittaker’s unique delivery as the Doctor to the printed page, with her random asides and non-sequiturs – you can literally hear her voice as you read the word balloons.
Houser’s script introduces some wonderful new aliens to the Doctor Who mythology through the likes of The Grand Army of the Just and The Hoarder, but she also includes plenty of nods to past episodes to please long-time fans; such as the Doctor’s opinion of Vortex Manipulators as “cheap and nasty time travel”, her attempt to recall her favourite catchphrase when jumping into danger, and her stern warning against using guns. Despite these references, the story remains extremely accessible for readers who have never watched an episode of Doctor Who, although to be honest – who buys a Doctor Who comic if they’ve never watched an episode of the show? Much like Season Eleven itself, this opening story-arc feels like a soft reboot for the comic series, clearing out the past continuity from the previous volumes to begin afresh.
I have been a fan of Rachael Stott’s artwork since her first forays into Doctor Who comics in both the Ninth Doctor and Twelfth Doctor series. I love the way she gets her characters to emote through facial expressions, capturing the very essence of the actors she is bringing to life on the page. Stott is supported by Giorgia Sposito and Valeria Favoccia, who both manage to replicate the same style to avoid any discontinuity – in fact, you’d need a keen eye to tell the difference between the artists when reading. Another area that impressed me was the rich colours of the various alien worlds, from the rich blues and purples of the Sentient Nebulae to the golden shine of the Hoarder’s vaults. Colourist, Enrica Eren Angiolini does a superb job at enhancing Stott’s work and evoking a sense of location through her vibrant colour choices. All in all, this is a beautiful book to look at.
Bursting at the seams with energy, the infectious enthusiasm of all the creators involved can barely be contained within the pages of this graphic novel. The aptly-titled, “A New Beginning” provides a strong foundation for the next generation of Doctor Who comics, with a “back to basics” approach that results in adventures that enhance the character development seen on-screen. Extremely readable and accessible, this is a stunning debut for the Thirteenth Doctor and her all-female creative team as they “break through the glass ceiling” together. Fresh, exciting and more relevant than ever, this is the perfect antidote to those long months without new Doctor Who on the telly!