Writer: Robbie Morrison
Artists: Rachael Stott, Ivan Nunes (colorist)
Publisher: Titan Comics
It seems like an age since we last saw Clara and the Doctor together, after the two went their separate ways at the end of the latest series. When we saw the Doctor last he was at a restaurant opposite the Singing Towers of Darillium with River Song for their 24-year-long dinner date. Now, though, Clara fans can rejoice, as she continues her adventures with the man in the big blue box in the new comic series of Doctor Who.
At the isolated Ravenscaur High School on an atmospheric Scottish island, Clara begins an investigation into the disappearance of her friend, a teacher at the prestigious school who left her an ominous voicemail moments before she vanished. The Doctor, fresh from an attempt on his life by a galactic mercenary (never a dull moment, eh?), joins Clara in her mission to go undercover as a replacement teacher, and the pair soon begin the inquiry. However, nothing at the school is at it seems, as a mysterious alien force seems to be at play.
When it comes to Doctor Who, it is common practice for the audience —or in this case, readers— to want to know why an alien invasion is taking place, and how the Doctor is going to solve the problem. In this sense “Clara Oswald And The School of Death” does its job well, as the introduction to the menacing aliens means that the comic is rife with intrigue at its climax, especially since we are yet to discover their names, or to even see them come face-to-face with the Doctor and Clara.
The comic captures the traits and mannerisms of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and Jenna Coleman’s Clara excellently. The depiction of the Twelfth Doctor is especially good, as his sarcasm and wit is so on point that it almost seems like the man is talking to us through the pages.
Some of the dialogue between Clara and the Doctor, and the transitions from panel to panel doesn’t always flow well, though. The sudden appearance of the Doctor in Scotland without any prior indication that he had travelled there, for example, seems to disjoint their conversation somewhat. Even some of the phrases by characters seem like they should have been narrated, rather than spoken.
The artwork, meanwhile, effectively adds to the atmosphere of the story. Alice X Zhang’s cover art is especially beautiful, its dark brushwork suiting the story and the Twelfth Doctor’s more sombre look, quite well. It is Rachel Tott’s art, though, that is featured predominantly throughout the comic. Her background and landscape artwork is particularly noteworthy for its attractiveness, but there are other aspects of Tott’s artwork that don’t work as well. She’s not very good at capturing motion and movement, for example. Panels featuring people falling or when a car racing along seem particularly flat and this does remove you from story somewhat.
Of course, this comic is only a taste of what is to come. Robbie Morrison’s story has potential to provide an interesting adventure for the time-travelling duo, despite some minor issues with the dialogue and artwork. While the story has a similar premise to much we have seen in the Doctor Who on TV before, it’s perfect enjoyable and intriguing. Even if there are many unanswered questions left at the end of this first issue this new adventure certainly proves to be a good way for everyone’s favourite Time Lord to start the year.
Review by Roxy Simons
Click on preview pages for larger versions: