Doctor Who – “Empire of the Wolf”

DW Empire of the Wolf 1a

Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Roberta Ingranata

Chronology Placement: Set after “Alternating Current

This Graphic Novel collects the following stories:

  • Doctor Who: Empire of the Wolf # 1 – 4

Picking up on a loose plot thread from the recent multi-Doctor comic book adventure “Alternating Current”, Jody Houser and Roberta Ingranata explore the ramifications of having an alternate version of Rose Tyler loose out in the galaxy. Rather than pairing Rose Tyler with either the Ninth or Tenth Doctors that she is familiar with, Houser instead makes use of the Eighth and Eleventh Doctors, creating a unique dynamic that contrasts against the Rose / Doctor partnerships previously seen on-screen. Not content with making use of her own version of Rose, Houser also brings back the original Rose Tyler – last seen in a parallel dimension – and gives us more information on her and the Meta-Crisis Doctor’s happy ending.

The story has plenty of moving parts and requires a fairly in-depth knowledge of Doctor Who continuity from multiple eras of the show and the comic series, but it never gets too complicated and Houser allows the emotional beats of the plot to take precedence. It’s interesting to see how Houser compares and contrasts against the two different Roses, as well as the two Doctors. While the Eighth Doctor was chosen to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his first appearance in “Doctor Who: The Movie”, his more cheerful and optimistic outlook is a nice counterpoint to the dour Eleventh Doctor who has just lost Amy & Rory in “The Angels Take Manhattan”.

DW Empire of the Wolf 1b

Roberta Ingranata’s artwork continues to impress, particularly the full page spreads for the two Roses that highlight their past histories. Her interpretation of the returning characters borrows elements from the actor’s performance in the TV series, but never feels beholden to recreating an exact likeness. Similarly, Jody Houser is adept at capturing the unique vocal mannerisms of each character; a task that is quite difficult considering that some of these characters are duplicates of each other. I could definitely hear the voices of Paul McGann and Matt Smith in each incarnation of the Doctor, and this was backed up nicely with Ingranata’s take on their facial expressions. While the background details were somewhat sparse in some of the panels, the story is so much more focused on the personal drama over action that it never feels like something is lacking.

As with previous stories in this Titan Comics run, Houser and Ingranata are having an absolute blast in experimenting with Doctor Who continuity and pairing up characters who would never normally meet, such as Missy and the UNIT Master, or the Thirteenth Doctor and Martha Jones. It is great fun to see this ‘wish list’ of encounters taking place in the supporting media, and much like with Big Finish’s multi-Doctor output, the stories themselves are equally as thrilling as seeing two past Doctors meet up. While there is the risk that the overuse of these multi-Doctor adventures might dilute the uniqueness of those events, it is still extremely enjoyable to see what peculiar cocktail of characters Houser and Ingranata can put together.

DW Empire of the Wolf 1c

As a long-time reader of this series, I was glad that Jody Houser revisited the alternate Rose Tyler from “Alternating Current” as it felt like there was more to be said with the character, especially since she was purposefully kept within the core universe. Looking ahead, it seems like future Titan Comics releases will deal with the Fugitive Doctor and her time with the Division, which is an exciting prospect and will hopefully supplement some of the plot threads currently occurring in the TV series. That said, I am still waiting to see whether we will see a resolution to the cliff-hanger from “Alternating Current” that had the Thirteenth Doctor bump into The Corsair once again. I hope that this plot point doesn’t get swept under the carpet, especially with the Thirteenth Doctor set to regenerate soon.

Doctor Who: Empire of the Wolf is a delicious medley of the finest Doctor Who ingredients thrown into a blender and served up to a hungry fandom. Without the restrictions of budgets and actor availabilities, Houser and Ingranata are free to create some of the most imaginative and exciting Doctor Who stories out there, pulling from over sixty years of continuity to excite and inspire audiences. Whovians who only watch the TV series are missing out on some truly spectacular adventures happening in the Titan Comics tie-ins.

Score – ★★★★

Doctor Who: “Empire of the Wolf” is available in print format from Amazon UK, or as a digital eBook from Amazon Kindle & Comixology.

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