COMIC REVIEW: Doctor Who Special 2013


doctor-whoThere is a long association between Doctor Who and Christmas. The First Doctor famously broke the fourth wall in order to wish “a Happy Christmas to all of you at home” at the end of the episode “The Feast Of Steven”. The series has aired a Christmas special every year since its revival in 2005. The Tenth Doctor made his first full-length appearance in “The Christmas Invasion” and this year will see the Eleventh Doctor make his final appearance in this year’s Christmas special, “The Time Of The Doctor”. It seems fitting then that IDW Publishing should release their final Doctor Who comic on Christmas Eve.

“The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who” sees The Doctor having traveled sideways in space and time, landing on another Earth in a parallel dimension. To his astonishment, he is recognized immediately and asked for autographs. Thanks to a twelve-year-old fangirl, The Doctor soon learns the astonishing truth – in this universe his exploits are the subject of an incredibly popular television show!

The concept of a fictional character traveling to the real world is hardly an original one. Nor is the idea of a hero finding themselves saddled with a young fan, who knows everything about said hero’s exploits. Yet, author Paul Cornell manages to mine both of these classic concepts to tell a tale that avoids all of the usual cliches. For instance, there’s none of that nonsense with a child trying to convince their parents that their favorite hero is truly real. All it takes is one quick trip out to the TARDIS to convince Mom the impossible has happened and The Doctor really is hiding out in her daughter’s bedroom, watching the DVDs depicting his latest adventure.

doctor-whoThe main thrust of the story is quite exciting. There’s also some good bits of humor built around The Doctor attending a Doctor Who fandom convention, discovering slash fan fiction and meeting Matt Smith – the actor who plays The Doctor’s eleventh incarnation. What truly sells this story, as in most of Cornell’s work, are the little moments of humanity.

The best bits of the comic involve Ally – the titular girl – talking with The Doctor about being bullied because of her fandom and how she feels like an outsider because, unlike most girls her age, she prefers talking about space and physics instead of fashion and boys. This is an incredibly topical conversation, not only because of the bullying aspect but because this is the few mainstream works to address the bullying of teenage girls in general and “fake geek girls” in specific. Cornell doesn’t pull any punches and does not allow The Doctor to give Ally an easy answer. What he does do will bring a smile to Whovians everywhere, who know that real or fictional, The Doctor’s greatest power is the power to inspire others to be smarter, kinder and better people.

The artwork by Jimmy Broxton is as fantastic as Paul Cornell’s script. Broxton perfectly captures the look of Matt Smith’s Doctor. Each of the characters – from the people in Ally’s neighborhood to the denizens of the convention – all have a unique and memorable look to them. What little action this issue holds (it’s a Doctor Who story – naturally there’s going to be a monster to run away from at some point) proves well-paced and well-displayed.

Alas, there seems little point in recommending this series to new readers as this is the final issue. Thankfully, this comic also contains a cover gallery of every single Doctor Who comic IDW Publishing has released in their six years of holding the license. So old fans can go back and make sure they have picked up every issue and new fans can see how much they’ve missed as well as what they have to look forward to.

Rating 5

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