Monday, September 23, 2013

Doctor Who #13 (IDW Vol. 3) - A Review

While Doctor Who is frequently described as a series where anything is possible, rarely is this idea pushed in a historical context.  "Cities made of song and people made of smoke" are all well and good but you can't just go mucking about with "what might have been" in history.  Even when history itself is apocryphal and filled with more tall tales than any sci-fi dime novel, it just isn't done! 

And yet, with Doctor Who #13, Tony Lee has done it and done it well. 

The central conceit of this issue is that a young Oscar Wilde - who did travel the length and depth of America in 1882 - found himself in Deadwood, South Dakota at the same time as "Calamity" Martha Jane Canary.  At the same time, The Doctor and Clara make a day-trip to Deadwood.  And, yet again at the same time, there are rumors that the legendary Wild Bill Hickok has risen from the dead to seek revenge as a mysterious masked gunfighter, who kills with a gesture instead of a gun. 

Lee balances all of these stories and subplots like a plate-spinner.  More, he manages some truly touching character moments, such as Wilde and Clara bonding over booze as Clara tries desperately to avoid pitching story ideas to a Wilde who is years away from writing his most famous works of fiction.  Amazingly, there are hints of even further complications in a story that already has three good stories running through it at present time.  This story may well justify the four issues being devoted towards telling it.

Artist Mike Collins shows the same skill here he did in the recent Fourth Doctor chapter of Doctor Who: Prisoners Of Time.  The characters from the show and historical figures are well caricatured and Collins proves an effective visual storyteller.  The panel layout is logical and the story flows smoothly without any confusion.

Bottom Line: If you're a Doctor Who fan, this story is a must read.  Fans of western comics in general and good historical pieces may also wish to give this one a shot.  Seeing the legendary Oscar Wilde in the equally legendary locale of Deadwood is worth the price of admission alone. 

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