As one chapter ends, another begins! Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #5 sees Team TARDIS embark on an intriguing new adventure, as they encounter mysterious goings-on in the medieval European countryside
In its previous issue, Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor‘s inaugural story arc came to a close. Issue #4 provided a satisfying conclusion to the first chapter of the Thirteenth Doctor and friends’ comic series, as the terrifying Hoarder was finally defeated, and Perkins and Schulz (and their fellow prisoners) were freed.
Hidden Human History
As this issue opens, we find the Doctor, Yaz, Ryan, and Graham on the cusp of a brand-new adventure. In accordance with age-old Doctor Who tradition, their trip to outer-space in the far future is naturally followed by an Earth-bound one, as the ‘fam’ explore humanity’s past.
Unlike their previous on-screen visits to 1950s Montgomery, Alabama and early seventeenth-century Lancashire, it’s safe to say this story will introduce most readers to a rather less familiar moment in history. Although the Doctor’s friends are already clued-up thanks to popular podcast ‘Hidden Human History’, I don’t think I’m in the minority in never having heard of the Guelders Wars of early sixteenth-century northern Europe. A quick Google search reveals that these wars spanned almost half a century, and had an enormous impact on civilians in the region. Hopefully this story will teach us a little more about this largely overlooked period of the past.
New Adventures, Old Memories
This opening chapter of the series’ new arc features a number of fantastic callbacks to previous moments and characters from the television series. Stepping out of her TARDIS, the Doctor warns the surrounding flock of sheep that she’s ‘watching you. Keep the plotting to a minimum’. It’s an amusing nod to the future ‘Wooly Rebellion’ she warned her friends about in last series’ ‘It Takes You Away’. Later, Ryan laments that ‘we can’t really change the bad parts of history’, leading to a far more poignant reflection on her past from the Doctor. She tells Ryan that ‘sometimes, you can save just one, and that makes all the difference. An old friend taught me that.’ It’s a brief but incredibly touching reminder of former companion Donna Noble, and her heartbreaking plea for the Doctor to ‘just save someone’ from the destruction of Pompeii.
Issue #5 also sees the Thirteenth Doctor at her most typically Doctor-like. In its opening panels, she holds her index finger up to the wind to determine where and when they’ve landed, in true Tenth Doctor fashion. However, it’s the mid-point of this issue that gives the Thirteenth Doctor her most spectacular ‘I-am-the-Doctor’ speech since her debut in Series 11’s ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’. It’s a truly awe-inspiring moment that’s crying out to be re-enacted on-screen, captured here in a stunning piece of work from artists Rachael Stott, Enrica Eren Angiolini and Tracy Bailey. Indeed, the series’ creative team continue to impress throughout this issue, as they render a rural medieval European village just as beautifully as they did the depths of outer-space.
We’re also introduced in this issue to local villager Magda. It seems she’s rather down-on-her-luck, and keen to escape the ‘demons’ that have been terrorizing Guelders. However, the Doctor’s speech inspires her to stick around and defend her village. The closing pages see her (quite rightly) fleeing from a disturbing sight, but I doubt this is the last we’ve seen of her.
Demons of the Guelders
As this issue draws to a close, events take a sinister turn, as the Doctor and company come to realise the true nature of the ‘demons’ supposedly fighting on behalf of the invading Habsburgs. They discover, hidden away in some stables, a group of truly grotesque creatures. If you thought the Hoarder was frightening, just wait until you meet the Stilean Flesh Eaters. The Doctor’s description of their literal bloodthirstiness does anything but put her friends (or the reader) at ease. And to make matters worse, the final panel sees one of these creatures violently bite into the Doctor’s arm!
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor‘s fifth issue sets up another compelling story arc, which is shaping up to be perhaps even better than the first. Series 11’s historical episodes were, at least in this writer’s view, some of its strongest, and the same looks set to be true of this Doctor’s comic series. That shocking cliffhanger, coupled with the promise that the Thirteenth Doctor will shortly be ‘bumping into some old friends’ are sure to leave readers itching to read the next instalment!
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #5 is available from all good comic retailers from Wednesday 6th March.
Check out the three variant covers available for this issue below, featuring artwork from Rebekah Issacs and Dan Jackson, Will Brooks, and Claudia Ianniciello!