Book Review – Twelfth Doctor Vol. 4 – The School of Death

  • Title: The School of Death
  • Author: Robbie Morrison
  • Artists: Rachael Stott, Simon Fraser, Ivan Nunes, Marcio Menys, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line: 12th Doctor
  • Characters: Twelfth Doctor, Clara Oswald
  • Collection Date: 2016
  • Collected Issues: Year 2, Issues # 1-5
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 9/18/2016

**spoiler alert** The School of Death starts off the second year of Titan Comics Twelfth Doctor Doctor Who graphic novel series. It features the Twelfth Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi and his companion, Clara. This graphic novel features two stories.

In the first story, Clara receives an urgent message from a friend of hers, a young teacher who had gotten her “dream job” teaching at an exclusive private school in Scotland called Ravenscaur. Clara goes to investigate and is soon joined by the Doctor. The school has a spooky air, stuck-up students, and a horrible headmistress – but that’s normal. What’s less normal is that the school, which is on an Island, has housed a colony of Sea Devils for generations. The Sea Devil eggs bond with the students while they are at the school, then go on to influence policy as business and political leaders. Their influence, however, will help their own plans to conquer the Earth. Clara, the Doctor, two students who have not been taken over and are fairly normal, and eventually UNIT must stop the Sea Devils. It’s an excellent story with marvelous art.

The second story begins by breaking the fourth wall as the Doctor addresses the reader of the comic book. The story brings back the Boneless who are attacking readers of comics and trapping them inside comic books. It’s a fun story, and has a great conclusion for how the Doctor frees the captives and defeats (for now) the Boneless.

The School of Death is highly recommended. I enjoyed it a lot. I also really liked that the stories were concluded in this issue.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Twilight of the Gods

  • Title: Twilight of the Gods
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Christopher Bulis
  • Characters:  Second Doctor, Jaime, Victoria
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/05/2013

Twilight of the Gods is part of the long out of print Virgin Books Publishing Missing Doctors Adventures which featured Doctors 1-6 from the British television series Doctor Who and were published alongside the New Adventures featuring the Seventh Doctor. I read an e-book version, which used the old, non-flowable .pdf format – which meant lots of re-sizing and zooming of pages, then re-setting the page size to “turn” to the next page. There also were a lot of typos. However, considering how long out of print the book is, and that the e-book was free, it’s not fair to complain too much.

This story featured the Second Doctor (as played by Patrick Troughton), Jaime McCrimmon – the Scottish Highlander, and Victoria Waterfield. The TARDIS doesn’t exactly crash, but it has a rough landing on what soon turns out to be Vortis – the Web Planet, home of the Menoptera and the Zarbi, previously visited by the First Doctor (in the aired story, “The Web Planet”). It’s hundred years since the Doctor’s last visit, but the Menoptera need the Doctor’s help again.

The Rhumon Empire is in the midst of a Civil War between Royalists and Republicans – and both sides have landed on Vortis, given the planet their own name, and declared it claimed for their own side in the war. Both sides fight each other, fight the elements of the planet itself, and fight any Menoptera who get in the way. The Royalists take Menoptera as slaves – but the Republicans kidnap them as well.

Lord Kai Shallvar leads the Royalists, he’s served by his loyal servant, Cansonn, and annoyed by the High Priest Li Modeenus. Besides absolute loyalty to their King and the aristocracy – the Royalists are also expected to be blindly loyal to the religion of the One True God – the Sun God. Though Shallvar rules his men and women, Modeenus has power to manipulate Shallvar, because he represents the State Religion, and on the Royalist side of the War – no other beliefs are tolerated other than the State Religion. Modeenus even has a computer-like device to test one’s belief.

The Republicans believe that for all to be Equal, all must be the same. They have no religion – and punish any belief in the supernatural or superstition severely. On the planet, they are led by Captain-Commander Draga-three, who must obey the rules set by her political officer, Nevon-two. The Republicans do not even use family names, only numbers. They’re basically a thinly-veiled analogy of Communists.

The Doctor, Victoria, and Jaime, quickly get involved – being split up, reunited, and split-up again – thus allowing them and the readers to learn about and become involved with the three groups in conflict on the planet. However, just as the Doctor attempts to organize some sort of rapprochement between the groups – a new problem arises, an Old One – left over from the Animus that the First Doctor and his companions defeated. Before long, The Doctor, his companions, the Menoptrea, the Royalists and the Republicans are fighting together to defeat something that looks like it escaped from a HP Lovecraft novel. And they are losing.

The Doctor comes up with a final desperate plan – to take one of the missiles (bombs) offered by the Republicans and dematerialize with it abroad the TARDIS, rematerialize within the Old One’s shields, drop the bomb out the TARDIS door, then dematerialize again.

I won’t spoil the ending – but it’s a fine romp.

I really did enjoy this novel – lots of political intrigue, the Doctor and Victoria and Jaime all teaching the Republicans and Royalists not merely that they are wrong, but that they should just leave the Menoptera alone, to run their planet as they see fit (a hint of anti-Colonialism there). By the end, everyone is working together in the short term, though the Royalist and Republicans agree to leave the planet alone. The Xeno-biology of the Menoptera is fascinating (yes, these are good aliens – as are the Rhumons, at heart). The title of the novel does, eventually, make sense – and is a whole third storyline that’s too involved to discuss here (as well as spoiling the end.)

The original characters were extremely well-drawn, and I liked the detail and background given to Jaime and Victoria.

Recommended to Doctor Who fans, and general SF fans alike.