Christmas Comics Cavalcade: Doctor Who #12, Volume 2
Today we’ll be looking at a rather recent Yuletide comic book – Doctor Who #12, Volume 2 published by IDW. Written by Tony Lee with art chores by Paul Grist, colors by Phil Elliot.
This is one of the rare comics in the Christmas Comics Cavalcade that I paid full price for upon its release!
The comic is a 22 page (almost) dialogue-less tale wherein by happenstance, The Doctor runs into a platoon of robots attacking Father Christmas.
After engaging the robots in combat, Santa’s reindeer are too hurt to fly, leading to The Doctor to offer a different means of conveyance to deliver all of the holiday presents.
…and really, that’s it. If the story is a bit slight, it’s redeemed totally by a couple of factors. Firstly, the artwork from Grist is a joy to behold. Grist’s style is full of big, bold lines and cartoony flourishes which is my preference when we’re talking about licensed properties. I’d much rather have a stylized take on a licensed property than see an artist twisting himself into knots trying to produce a photo-realistic take on the characters. I feel like the latter approach will always come up short with readers already familiar with whatever licensed property they’re reading. I have to say, this tendency has kept me away from most Doctor Who comics, which, save for a few exceptions, suffer from this problem. Grist captures the 11th Doctor in all his Matt Smith-ness but it’s not a slavish characture of the actor. Grist’s page layouts are also above the usual licensed fare, and they fairly zip with energy and life. I remember being acutely bummed out when I saw the look of this comic and found out that it was only a one-shot deal from these creators.
Another lovely thing about Doctor Who #12 is that it’s not bogged down with comic continuity. A lot of times with licensed comics, there are rules that have to be followed to maintain the integrity of the license in other media. I talked about this a little when I wrote about Disney Comics’ Roger Rabbit book which couldn’t use Disney cartoon characters and also couldn’t use the Eddie Valiant detective character and generally had to forge its own path away from the metaphorical mother ship. Doctor Who comics have a long-standing history of working around the TV show, most often by giving The Doctor companions and adventures which ONLY take place in the comics and aren’t officially considered “canon” to the rest of the series. Tony Lee sidesteps this issue by making the comic a companion-less tale…
…which makes sense given the time frame this comic was published, wherein Amy and Rory were supposed to be under the impression that The Doctor was dead. It lends an extra sweetness to The Doctor’s near-interaction with the Pond-Williamses here.
There’s lot of little in-jokes for fans of the show beyond that. Note The Doctor’s fondness for Jammie Dodgers here!
Finally, I love this comic because it feels like it’s being pitched to children. The very idea that Santa Claus exists and The Doctor would meet him and help him out is something that wouldn’t make it into the regular series without a fair degree of hand-wringing and sci-fi explanation… but here it works. Further, The Doctor’s personality in this book strikes me as Bugs Bunny-like and I love a comic book that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Paul Grist and Tony Lee did another superlative Doctor Who story featuring the 10th Doctor, but unsurprisingly, this one remains my favorite of their licensed work together.