In Review: Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #9

A fun read with average to poor visuals. I expect better, Titan.

The covers: The Doctor has on a time period appropriate hat and Clara wears a fitting dress as they make their way down the Strip in Las Vegas, as Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Frank Sinatra give them the once over. Delightful cover by interior artist Brian Williamson, with some slick coloring done with soft violets that mimic the lights of Sin City and make the characters pop. The B cover is a Photo Variant, and the one I purchased. It shows Peter Capaldi‘s Doctor with a hand to his face, as though he’s pondering something. He’s set against a deep blue background and the glare of shiny lights, with the iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign behind him. The Doctor is shown from the waist up, cut off from flames that are spiraling up from the bottom of the image. It’s starts classy and becomes sinister — I like it! Grades: A A-, B A

The story: The first four pages of “Gangland” by Robbie Morrison feature narration by the Doctor as he tells the tale of how Rassilon challenged Count D’If, ruler of the Cybock Imperium, to a game of chance to stop his threat to universal harmony. They played a game of Russian roulette where the gun was loaded with a time-bomb, “A projectile that extinguishes its victim’s entire timeline, effectively wiping them from existence.” Rassilon won and his laughter caused the Gallifreyans to fear their president for the first time. The flashback over, the Doctor and Clara are in a curtained environment where the Doctor states he wishes to play his unseen opponent the same game, with the stakes being the planet Earth. This dramatic opening is interrupted by the issue’s credits and then the story goes to the recent past, with a ship’s arrival in the Nevada desert in 1963. Having the Doctor and Clara run around Vegas in this time period is a fun idea. In fact, the Doctor takes Clara there because he’s discovered he has tickets to see Frankie Seneca, Dino Martinelli, and Solly Dancer. Obviously, Titan couldn’t clear the rights to using Sinatra, Martin, or Davis’ names for this tale, but it’s still neat to see them with our heroic pair. The Doctor draws the attention of the hotel’s owner, while Clara works her way into an exclusive party. The expected mobster and Rat Pack jokes are made, but I preferred the dialogue between the Doctor and Clara before they separated. Naturally things become complicated when some individuals show who are not Nevada natives. There’s a neat supporting character the two encounter who starts as a heavy (Page 13), but looks to be better than this occupation. This was a fun start of a Vegas romp and I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out. Overall grade: A- 

The art: The visuals on this book from Brian Williamson and Mariano Laclaustra are not strong. This is apparent on the first page. The second panel establishes many familiar faces from the Doctor’s past, but does so without fine details, such as on the character on the far left. The background of the third panel is very basic, including random hash marks on the right. I didn’t know I was looking at water in the final panel until looking at the panel for a third time. If an artist, or team, cannot create a good visual grabber for readers on the initial page, chances are the art will be unsuccessful throughout. It’s not that low in quality, but it is basic, average art. However, Rassilon looks terrible. The first appearance of the Doctor on Page 4 is very basic, with the colorist having to finish the illustration. Page 5’s setting is very basic and sparse. The top panel on Page 8 gets the idea across of what’s occurring, but, if looked at closely, contains no connecting lines. This looks rushed, which might be why two artists are credited with this book. The Doctor looks like Capaldi in a majority of the issue, though Clara is hit and miss as Jenna Coleman: Page 11 has six panels with her, and she’s good in the first three panels, but what happened in the final three? There are several famous people in this book and they are illustrated in the most simplistic ways, such as on 17. I mean, just look at the arm in the fourth panel on Page 19 — that’s supposed to be perspective, and it’s not. The monster — and that’s no spoiler because this is a Doctor Who story — is a neat design, I do like the combination. The visual aspect of this book is able to tell the story, but does so with the most basic art. Overall grade: C-    

The colors: The talented Hi-Fi provides all of this issue’s different shades and colors. The first panel has a nice depth in the vastness of space with a nice blending of different blues. The second panel has some excellent color work on the alien that’s on the far right. There’s also some really good work in the second panel on the third page which features a close-up of the revolver. However, Hi-Fi is being called upon to put a lot of depth into images that are flat, which are most of the characters. Take a look at the Doctor in the large panel on Page 4: they do what they can with the hair and the face. Heck, look at the depth they have to put at the bottom of Page 16 when a majority of the figures don’t even have slits for eyes, noses, or mouths. This is going beyond the call of duty to create a reality in the work when the art isn’t doing so. Sounds are also nicely bright, with the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver casting a gorgeous, eerie green. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, sound effects, scene settings, yells, a ticket, signage, and a wonderful exclamation on Page 18 are all created by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt. An excellent job, as this pair always does. Overall grade: A

The final line: A fun read with average to poor visuals. I expect better, Titan. Overall grade: B-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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