Doctor Who: A Tale of Two Time Lords – “A Little Help from My Friends”

Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Roberta Ingranata

Chronology Placement: Set after “Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror

This Graphic Novel collects the following stories:

  • Doctor Who: The 13th Doctor (Vol. 2) # 1 – 4

Kicking off the second year of Thirteenth Doctor stories in style, the writer/artist creative team of Jody Houser and Roberta Ingranata finally reveal what happened to the Tenth Doctor and Martha when they were trapped in 1969 during the events of “Blink”. Taking a leaf out of that brilliant sequence in Back to the Future: Part II when Marty McFly time-travels back to the events of the first movie and has to avoid a paradox, Houser has the Thirteenth Doctor insert herself into the pre-established events of “Blink”, inadvertently bringing danger to the door of her past self. It’s a nice twist on the typical multi-Doctor story and I liked how it revealed the ‘B-side’ to the televised “Blink” storyline, which focused predominately on Sally Sparrow.

Houser continues to do a great job with the characterisation of the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions, although I do think the relationship between Ryan and Graham is a bit more familial here than it is on-screen. With the addition of the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones, there is even less focus on the three companions than usual and aside from some witty observations and a nice sequence where they get to interact with the Tenth Doctor, they are given little to do in the story. The real highlight for me was the interactions between the Thirteenth Doctor and Martha Jones, with the female incarnation of the Doctor being more receptive and aware of Martha’s unrequited crush on her male predecessor.

I’ve always thought that the Tenth and Thirteenth Doctors are very comparable to each other in terms of personality with both of them possessing a manic enjoyment of the mischief they find themselves in. Houser showcases this similarity by having the pair work extremely well together – something that doesn’t always occur when the Doctor meets their past selves. She also manages to keep each Doctor sounding unique, despite the similarities, highlighting the subtle differences between both actors’ performances in the role. These two Doctors are a natural pair, and considering that David Tennant and Jodie Whittaker are good friends in real life, I fully expect these two Doctors to unite on-screen sometime in the near future. Possibly for the 60th anniversary in 2023?

Given that this adventure involves jumping into a past story, it should come as no surprise that the story is rich with continuity mentions and references to that era of the series. I really liked the attention to detail in the story, whether it was recalling moments from “Rose”, “The Runaway Bride”, “Human Nature” or even Amy and Rory’s departure in “The Time of the Angels”. Houser made use of all of these stories to influence her characterisation of the Doctor and Martha, rooting the plot in the continuity of the show at that time. While I don’t want to spoil too much of the story and reveal the villains of the piece, it was great to see multiple threats fighting against multiple Doctors and reading between the lines, it could be that defeat of one of those monsters indirectly set up the events of “Rose” in a nice timey-wimey twist.

Roberta Ingranata brings a light-hearted vibe to the series through her artwork which captures the very essence of the characters without needing to be photo-realistic. Her take on 1960s London is surprisingly immersive and I loved how she included cameos of the Weeping Angels in the back of her panels, creating a genuine sense of foreboding throughout the opening chapters. Her interpretation of the Tenth Doctor is fantastic, capturing his manic energy and I really enjoyed the moments when he was walking around London trying to find Time Vortex energy. Her take on Martha Jones is extremely impressive and I loved how she conveyed Martha’s assertiveness and attitude to match Houser’s script. Ingranata’s artwork is further enhanced by the work of her colorist, Enrica Eren Angiolini, resulting in vibrant images that just leap off the page. Altogether, the trio make a stunning creative team and seem to effortlessly bring the energy of the TV series onto the printed page.

Revisiting a much-loved episode and adding more to the story can be a risky endeavour, but Houser exceeds expectations and delivers a solid comic book adventure that honours the source material. Despite the inclusion of two fan-favourite monsters, four companions and two Doctors, the story never feels rushed and Houser gives the characters plenty of time to interact and develop as you would hope in a multi-Doctor story. Watching the Tenth and Thirteenth Doctors bounce off of each other is as fun as you’d expect it to be and the cliff-hanger at the end, along with the subtitle of this volume, seems to suggest more multi-Doctor adventures to come. Houser and Ingranata are producing some incredible Doctor Who stories here, revisiting classic eras of the series through the prism of the current status-quo. The franchise continues to go from strength to strength under the Titan Comics banner and I can’t wait to see what is next on the horizon…

Score – ★★★★ ½

Doctor Who: A Tale of Two Time Lords – “A Little Help from my Friends” is available in print from Amazon, Forbidden Planet and all good book stores; and in a digital format from Comixology and Amazon Kindle.

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