Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #1 is striking while the iron is hot, following the debut of BBC’s eighth series of the beloved character by less than two months. That quick proximity presents both a risk and an opportunity to writer Robbie Morrison and artist Dave Taylor. They can help define what makes this version of the Doctor special, but are also relying on very limited source material to capture the right tone for fans of the series.
The tone of this issue suits the character very well though. Taylor recognizes what makes the mythology of the Doctor special and emphasizes it on most of his pages. The wild imagination of the series and creative scenarios are a consistent presence in his art. He details wide jungle landscapes, creating images that would be unconvincing on a television show’s budget. The flora and fauna that occupy the setting is fascinating. Although many animals are roughly based on those occupying Earth (for a good, plot driven reason), they are all unique. The inclusion of Skunkies (Skunk-Monkeys) is amusing and shows off what a Doctor Who comic can do better than a television show.
That is to say, Taylor is not restricted by technical limitations. He can add quirks and aliens wherever and whenever he wants. The inclusion of random alien cast members help to make the comic feel more diverse based on Taylor’s whims alone. He conjures up creatures and robots that contain their own unique histories, but act only as extra bodies here. In this, the comic feels much more like a bar in Star Wars than a typical episode of Doctor Who.
Taylor’s art sometimes suffers when focusing on the characters of the Doctor and Clara. Their faces appear less naturally constructed than his original creations. He does not appear to have quite made these imitations of the actors his own yet, and is clearly working to mirror their on screen appearances. As a result, they often appear stiff, almost statuesque.
Morrison seems to have a firm grasp on the Doctor Who property as well. He understands both the attractiveness of the concept and the attitude behind Peter Capaldi’s performance. Both Clara and the Doctor are fully realized as individuals within the script. The banter between the two reads naturally and is funny without ever feeling forced. Their voices are consistent and it is easy to get a handle on who they are, so much so that someone unfamiliar with the newest Doctor could get a solid impression of his personality from this comic alone.
The biggest problem the script suffers from is an overabundance of expository dialogue. Skimming the pages of The Twelfth Doctor #1, it’s easy to detect that word bubbles cover many of these pages. Between discovering problems, discussing past events, and humorous banter, there are plenty of pages that consist only of figures standing around talking to or at one another. It slows the pacing of the story and sometimes avoids showing off Taylor’s imaginative vistas.
Overall, The Twelfth Doctor nails the tone of the show and it’s newest cast of characters. Fans of the show will doubtless enjoy seeing more of what they love on television, but in a medium that doesn’t restrict imagination based on budgets. It manages to provide points of interest beyond simple imitation. Taylor’s art allows for scenes and effects that would be impossible on the BBC, and if the series focuses more on this strength, it will be better for it.