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‘Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Vol. 0: The Many Lives of Doctor Who’ review

A good primer for the upcoming thirteenth Doctor and all the Doctors that have come before.

Titan Comics’ many Doctor Who titles have been counting down to the arrival of the thirteenth Doctor and the start of a new series.  This prequel comic pays tribute and revisits the history of the 50+ year old phenomenon. 

From the publisher:

The ultimate celebration of the Doctor’s many, many      lives, a perfect beginner’s guide and a brilliant tribute for long-term fans to enjoy! It’s said that your life flashes before your eyes when you die: as the Doctor regenerates from his Twelfth incarnation to her Thirteenth, she relives memories from her many incarnations, showcasing unseen adventures from EVERY version of the Doctor!

The book doesn’t feature the titular thirteenth doctor in a new adventure, which is expected given the show hasn’t premiered with her character and they’d hardly spoil it in the comic.  Instead the thirteenth Doctor plays narrator, with the concurrent stories unfolding in an internal monologue as she regenerates after the end of the twelfth Doctor.  She’s going back through her lives and each of the 12 numbered doctors, plus the “War Doctor,” are given their own original episodes.

What’s unique about the book is that the art and coloring is done by a number of different teams, so each of the Doctors and his companions are seen with fresh eyes in their sections. The number of artists and colorists are too numerous to name, with some only doing individual panels, such as the twelfth Doctor’s regeneration, and a few doing work on up to three of the chapters.  There are some really excellent stylistic changes as you go from one Doctor to the next. One page may feature a close up of the thirteenth Doctor in realistic watercolor, while another made the story featuring the first Doctor look like the cover of a sci-fi paperback from the 70s. My favorite had to be the cartoony and beautiful fourth Doctor section, which fit the personality and spirit of one of the most popular Doctors ever.



Each story is only a few pages, so don’t come prepared for an in depth adventure with each one.  However, revisiting some of the old Doctors was done with an eye to what makes each unique, and that made them interesting all the same. There isn’t so much an over-arcing story, but bits of dialogue from the show peppered between chapters which ties into the current story in some way. The speech the twelfth Doctor gives in his final episode, as he is dying and about to regenerate, is used the most since the comic takes place internally while the scene from the show is played out .  There was also the use of the number “13” repeatedly throughout the book, done for obvious reasons, but it didn’t really add anything and probably would have been better leaving out altogether.

I liked the approach the comic took more than the previous iteration of the “countdown to the new Doctor” theme that appeared in each of the other Doctor Who titles over the past few issues.  It felt like a good episode of the show and it’s always nice to have cameos from past the Doctors for longtime fans of the franchise.  Still, with the thirteenth Doctor’s name on the cover, some will come away disappointed hoping for any new details about the first female to carry the title of “The Doctor”.

Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Vol. 0: The Many Lives of Doctor Who
Is it good?
A good primer for the upcoming thirteenth Doctor and all the Doctors that have come before.
Separate, original stories for each of the previous 13 Doctors
Multiple teams of artists and colorists handle each chapter, with some unique and beautiful results.
Even though her name is in the title, little new information on the thirteenth Doctor
Chapters are only a couple of pages in length, so the plots don’t have great depth

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