Written by: Robbie Morrison
Art by: Rachael Scott
Publisher: Titan Comics
So I’m going to start this review with a bit of a confession, despite being a huge fan of the twelfth doctor, and placing it’s sister title on my top comics of the year list, I wasn’t overly fond of the first year of the twelfth doctor comics, and haven’t even finished it despite owning the issues. It just didn’t click with me like the other titles, and despite some interesting issues, I found the long story lines to be a little much. Being the absolute fanboy that I am however, I decided to give the series another go with the newly relaunched Year 2. And so, as I sit here in my long scarf giving my impression on the series, I am happy to say they are pretty good.
A few things have changed from the first series, mostly the personality of the doctor. Morrison takes inspiration from the shows most recent ninth season with a more mellowed out take on the character, rocking his sonic sunglasses and more fun loving personality to boot. For fans like myself that prefer the grouchy, stubborn versions of the doctor (Colin Baker fanbase hit me up top!) this will be a bit disappointing, especially given how well Morrison captured the prickly twelfth doctor the first time round, however I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy his new personality. The doctor carries a sense of smug swagger about him that’s irresistible to watch. It certainly opens the comic with a bang watching the newly confident doctor take on an entire army of angry warriors with nothing but words; fans of the Tennant and Smith era stories should certainly feel right at home. What I did love however, was the characterisation of Clara Oswald. Morrison infuses more personality and sass into her in one page than she’s had in her 3 season run. Morrison also takes his time introducing both characters into the story separately, making the comic accessible not only to new readers, but also people who haven’t watched the show, a real plus in my book.
When it comes to the story itself, things are certainly fun and interesting, however the same slow pace still rears it’s head. Most of the comic is spent with the introductions of the characters, and while there is a nice bit of intrigue and a Morning Glories type vibe to the goings on of a haunted school, the title “Clara Oswald and the Haunted School” tells about as much as the story does. The supporting cast are at least rather interesting though, especially an oddly perverted PE teacher who is just so over the top in his skeeviness I can’t help but laugh. A weird writing trick that rubbed me the wrong way though was the over abundance of references. Not just references to previous doctor who stories (though there is one painfully cringe worthy one near the end) but references to other sci-fi stories and comics. I’ll admit, I found the first nicely charming and fitting for the doctor’s new personality, but having quite a few makes me worry the charm will rub off fast. If they’re toned down in later issues it won’t be such a problem, but if things continue like this it could be a bit distracting.
I was a huge fan of new artist Rachael Scott however. While there was some bumpiness towards the start in terms of pacing (with objects not really flowing well panel to panel, making me feel disorientated), it soon smoothed out, and more than made up for it in atmosphere. There’s a real “Saturday evening television” feel to the comic, it gives me the same sort of feeling I get settling in to watch an episode of the show. The character models too look absolutely great, with Scott able to wring a great deal of charm and character out of them, bringing their full chemistry to the page, which should be a treat for fans. It’s a style that really fits the book and one I’m excited to see more of.
Overall, this definitely feels like an improvement over the first year of stories. It’s got a cleaner feel, a fun loving cast and the promise of intriguing adventures. The pace is still a little too slow for my taste, and it’ll take a few more issues to see if this is really one I want to stick with, but for fans of the 12th doctor and Clara you really have nowhere better to turn. This gets a recommendation for fans, especially fans of the RTD era or the most recent season.