Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #0 – The Many Lives of Doctor Who is a beautifully-crafted celebration of the Doctor, which perfectly illustrates how they always have and always will be the same Time Lord we’ve known and loved for the past 55 years.
As the premiere of Series 11 draws ever closer, so does the launch of Titan Comics’ latest series. Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #1 is due to be released on 17th October, and the series will follow this latest incarnation of the Doctor, plus her new friends Yasmin, Ryan, and Graham in brand-new comic adventures. In the run-up to these new series (both on-screen and in comic form) Titan has just released a three-part series entitled ‘The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor’, which recently concluded. This 64-page special prequel issue acts as one final teaser before The Thirteenth Doctor comic series properly gets going next month.
This issue acts not only as a great set-up for the upcoming comic series, but also as a fantastic introduction to the Doctor Who universe overall. This comic certainly lives up to its blurb, which describes it as ‘the perfect introduction to Doctor Who for new readers, and the ultimate celebration of the series for long-term fans’. Its accessibility is only enhanced by the decision to locate the issue within the final scenes of 2017’s Christmas special ‘Twice Upon a Time‘. In the moments just after the Doctor has regenerated, memories from all her many previous lives flash before her eyes.
‘The Many Lives of Doctor Who‘ is a rather unique creation. For one, it features an appearance from every incarnation of the Doctor we’ve seen on our screens since 1963. In addition, a huge variety of artists who have contributed to Doctor Who comics in the past have come together in collaboration to bring each of these Doctors to life. Mariano Laclaustra and Claudia Ianniciello beautifully re-create either side of the Doctor’s regeneration, with Ianniciello in particular capturing that close-up of the Thirteenth Doctor’s eyes in gorgeous detail. Each of the artists’ individual styles fit each Doctor incredibly well – Arianna Florean’s more cartoon-like style is an excellent match for Tom Baker’s cartoon-like face, and Giorgia Sposito perfectly captures Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie’s likenesses.
The whole comic is expertly done, particularly as it’s comprised of brief snapshots of each Doctor only spanning a few pages each. Writer Richard Dinnick effortlessly manages to capture the essence of each Doctor, even in such a short amount of space. Each moment could easily be from an unseen episode, and each one is written in such a way that they avoid alienating any readers who may be unfamiliar with certain Doctors.
This issue in itself acts as a brilliant introduction (or re-introduction) to the essential elements of not only the Doctor’s character, but of the show overall. We see each Doctor’s companions, their TARDIS, plus Daleks, Gallifrey, Time Lords, and the Master. As well as this, aspects of modern Doctor Who are cleverly woven into the classic Doctors’ stories, whether through the War Doctor teaming up with Dorium Maldovar, or the Fifth Doctor telling Nyssa about the fluidity of gender among Time Lords. It’s a fantastic way to reinforce the sense of continuity from one Doctor to the next.
Continuity and change are undoubtedly the central themes of this issue. ‘The Many Lives of Doctor Who‘ perfectly encapsulates what makes the Doctor who they are. As we find ourselves only a couple of weeks away from meeting the first ever female incarnation of the Doctor, it reassures us that no matter how often they change their face, at their core the Doctor will always be the same person. The Doctor always carries a sense of duty to help their fellow being, human or otherwise. They’re never cruel, and never cowardly. We’re also reminded of the essential qualities of the friends the Doctor keeps – smart, resourceful, and kind. And, as if all of that wasn’t enough, the same Doctor we see throughout this comic can also be found in the latest trailer for the upcoming series, in which the Thirteenth Doctor tells us, ‘When people need help, I never refuse […] Sometimes, I see things need fixing, I do what I can.’ It’s a comforting reminder to all of us that whilst change is an essential part of Doctor Who, it will continue to be the show we’ve known and loved since 1963 into this latest series.
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #0 – The Many Lives of Doctor Who is out on Wednesday 26th September, followed by Issue #1 on October 17th.