In Review: Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor Year Two #12

This is a Who-tastic tale!

The covers: A trio to track down through space and time, if one is a master Who fan. The A cover is by Alex Ronald and features a neat close up image of the Doctor looking solemn as he holds up his sonic screwdriver. He’s in a cool glacier setting, though there are orange leaves flitting about him, emanating some strong yellow energy. This is a very good likeness of Peter Capaldi and the setting and its colors make this a very sci-fi cover. The B is by Will Brooks who’s crafted an image of the Doctor making his way through some deserted hallway (could be a ship, a mine, a city hallway, etc.) that’s covered in cobwebs. The volume of webs makes this a creepy image and the Doctor’s resolve shows that he’s the only one that’s brave enough to see the horrors that have spun these silky, sticky trails. This is outstanding and the cover that I purchased. The C is by by JAKe and it’s a unique spin on the iconic character, who’s easily identifiable as Capaldi, yet the style gives it a hip hop vibe. It’s a bust shot of the Doctor standing before the TARDIS. The colors are very dark, yet all elements of the illustration can be clearly seen. It’s good, but it’s not a style I’m fond of. Overall grades: A A, B A+, and C C

The story: The middle chapter of “Terror of the Cabinet Noir” by Robbie Morrison opens with Cardinal Richelieu throttling Captain Verlock, the leader of the Red Guard, for failing to bring the Doctor to him. He threatens to “drain” his underling, but Verlock begs for mercy, “…The stranger…He possessed extraterrestrial technology, a sonic weapon of some kind. And a teleporter! He vanished almost before our eyes!” Richelieu doesn’t care; he wants this stranger killed because he’s arrived during the “Revelation.” Verlock is given a reprieve when he reveals that the stranger had a companion, Julie D’Aubigny, and he was able to get some of her clothing containing her DNA. The two go to the roof and Richelieu holds out the clothing to two gargoyles, stating, “Awaken, my creatures. You have prey to hunt before the sun rises.” The stoneworks turn to the evil man and smile. Meanwhile, in the TARDIS, the Doctor is trying to make sense of a clue he scraped from Julie’s sword, while this newest companion is trying to make sense of all the sorcery that surrounds her. Realizing what he might be looking at, the Doctor has the TARDIS land in the one place where he might confirm his guesses. Morrison has crafted a good Who story, touching base with every element of a classic tale: historical setting, new companion, and terrific monsters. The Doctor’s dialogue is outstanding, full of all the brilliance, wit, and sarcasm the character should have, but never slighting his newest, confused companion. Julie is a fun character, raring for action in the manner of Dorothy Gale “Ace” McShane. Before the action begins, there’s a neat flashback that allows the protagonists to hear the origin of the villains, but not understand their motivations, yet. When the action arrives it’s great and the ending is the perfect cliffhanger. This is a Who-tastic tale! Overall grade: A

The art: All the advertisements I had seen for this book proclaimed that it would be illustrated by Rachael Stott, so I was on fire to purchase this. I confess to being disappointed that she had not illustrated this issue; however, my joy arose upon going through the issue to find that Mariano Laclaustra, with art assistants Fer Centurion and Agus Calcagno, did a fine job. Richelieu looks appropriately menacing, with a good close up of his old eyes on the first page and the gargoyles have a great introduction as they come to life silently — the visuals make them look wonderfully creepy. The Doctor is a dead ringer for Capaldi on every page (which is something every Who fan wants to see in the comic adventures of this Doctor). This isn’t just a one-note Doctor either: he’s got a solid range of emotions, looking peeved, befuddled, and frightened as he’s trying to escape a fiery death. Julie is the scene stealer of the book, who emotes fantastically as she tries to make sense of the Doctor and relishes the chance to do battle with evil. Pages 7 – 10 contain a flashback sequence that is drawn very differently from the rest of the book and it absolutely suits what’s being told to the characters. If an entire issue of the Doctor’s exploits needed to be told in this style, I would heartily welcome it. My favorite page of the book is 19 which shows the Doctor and Julie running through three panels to get to safety. The characters look great, but he backgrounds are extremely lush, making the time period — and the action — realistic. There are times when the colors blur the artwork too much, though, and I wish that the lighting effects had been toned down a tad so that the visuals could be more clearly seen. Overall grade: B+

The colors: Carlos Cabrera, with Juan Manuel Tumburus, is responsible for the book’s colors and the work done is either outstanding or overdone. The first two pages of the book are fine, but an obvious change occurs on Page 3 with the colors getting blurry; case in point, look at Julie’s face in panel two. The colors are just too darn dark for the new setting shown in the large panel on 5. This is obvious because the final page of this issue shows the black and white artwork before it was colored. Cabrera and Tumburus have colored this panel very realistically, but could have cheated and lightened their work so that the details could have remained. The coloring on the flashback sequence is perfect — it’s suited for the teller of the tale and the time period itself. The battle with the monsters have several panels that are streaked to show the speed of the creatures’ attacks and demises, but it does not look good (See the final panel on 14). Page 19 is colored flawlessly. The colors are not so bright as to overpower the artwork, yet the heat generated is palpable. I ran hot and cold on the coloring. Overall grade: C

The letters: The talented team of Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt are responsible for this book’s dialogue, yells, sounds, screams, scene settings, and the tease for next issue. Their work is always top notch, and their sounds are superior. The GGGRRRAAAHHHH! and PTT-CHOW are excellent. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The mixed colored work hurts the visuals at times, but the story is tremendous fun. This should please Who fans and provide an excellent introduction for those encountering the Doctor for the first time. Overall grade: B+

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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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