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Comic Book Review
Clara came across the mysterious Museum of Terrible Fates, containing a photograph of the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors together – a meeting that would supposedly lead to the end of all things! Wanting to prevent this, Clara took the TARDIS to Paris, 1923, to warn the other Doctors’ companions, Gabby and Alice. She failed! After some argument, the Tenth and Twelfth Doctors accidentally touched – sparking the Blinovitch Limitation Effect, a flash of temporal energy. That’s when the Reapers, antibodies of time paradoxes, attacked…!
After a decidedly chatty opening issue, we get much more action in #2 of this multi-Doctor mash-up, thanks to the immediate threat posed by the formidable Reapers. I didn’t want to mention them in my previous review, because they showed up right at the end (spoilers!), but now they are fair game.
Paul Cornell is the best possible writer to reintroduce these creatures, since he created them in the first place, in one of my favourite episodes, Father’s Day. Every aspect of their concept is present and correct here, with the Doctors completing each other’s sentences as they explain that whenever there’s a temporal fluctuation at a vulnerable point in time, the Reapers swoop in to feed, to cleanse the wound, and Alice discovering that the TARDIS has been changed into an ordinary police box.
The writer continues to combine new series mythology with old, the latter in the form of the Blinovitch Limitation Effect – which can result in a powerful discharge of energy, a shorting out of the time differential, when two versions of the same person from different times come into contact. This effect has been inconsistently depicted over the years. It happened when two Brigadiers met in Mawdryn Undead, but not when Rose held her infant self in Father’s Day (perhaps on that occasion we just didn’t see the energy, which attracted the Reapers and was absorbed by them). Time Lords are usually immune to such effects, but here the Doctors are not (perhaps because this is a fixed point in time), though the effect is not as debilitating as it was to the Brigadiers. As in Father’s Day, the paradox attracts the Reapers.
The Tenth Doctor is the cover star this time around, and the issue kicks off from the point of view of his companion, budding artist Gabriella Gonzalez, including an illustrated snippet from her diary. However, Four Doctors remains an ensemble affair. “Don’t do that,” the Twelfth Doctor tells the Tenth, “Be all Bugs Bunny like that! Like I’m someone you have to distract!” Later, Twelve references the Spice Girls as he realises with regret how his predecessors must see him: “Baby Doctor and Posh Doctor seem to think I’m… Scary Doctor.” He also successfully psychoanalyses Ten: by walking into danger, springing the trap rather than living in fear, “he might actually be seeking punishment.”
Though the Twelfth Doctor gets many of the most quotable lines, it is the Eleventh who comes to the fore in my opinion. This may have something to do with the fact that he is my favourite of the new series Doctors and his title is the one I like best in the Titan Comics range. Here he has unexpectedly taken on a role similar to that of the First Doctor in The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors, or the War Doctor in The Day of the Doctor – i.e. the sensible one. “I think I might actually win a ‘least silly Doctor’ contest,” he observes to Alice with some surprise. As the Doctor in the middle, he finds himself playing peacemaker between his argumentative tenth and twelfth incarnations. “For goodness’ sake!” he exclaims, during a chase with the Reapers, “You’re not still at it, are you?! This lot behind me – they move quite fast!”
Talking of being in a hurry, some of Neil Edwards’s art appears a little rushed in this issue, and Clara’s hair inexplicably grows several inches when she changes her outfit towards the end of the story – does the TARDIS provide hair extensions?
Aside from that, though, this adventure is building momentum very nicely. You may wonder where the additional Doctor implied by the title has got to… but keep reading…