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Comic Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
The Twelfth Doctor #3


Writer: Robbie Morrison
Artist: Dave Taylor
Colourist: Luis Guerrero
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: UK £2.65, US $3.99
Age: 12+
32 pages
Publication Date: 24 December 2014

In the distant past, the land that would become India played host to a war between ancient aliens, whose cross-temporal battles contributed to the country’s rich myths and legends. Kali, the oldest and deadliest of these creatures, was thought to be defeated long ago – but her legacy survives, even into the 23rd century. With India now at the forefront of human space flight, it’s not only Earth that is under threat, but the whole cosmos! In a race against time, and through it, the Doctor and Clara must gather secrets, intelligence and allies from across India’s past, present and future, if they are to survive… the swords of Kali…!

A new serial, The Swords of Kali, begins with this issue. I suspect it’s a story that will make more sense when more of it has been released. It’s a flighty, time-hopping piece, which takes in such diverse settings as Florence, Italy in 1505, Madhya Province, India in 1825 and Mumbai, India in 2314.

Renaissance Italy is where we initially encounter the Doctor and Clara. It’s just an introductory couple of pages really, but it provides plenty of food for fan speculation, as we find Clara posing for Leonardo da Vinci, who appears to be painting the Mona Lisa. The Fourth Doctor visited this period and encountered the painting in City of Death, in which he referred to the model as “that dreadful woman with no eyebrows who wouldn’t sit still.” This implies that the Fourth Doctor was also present at the sitting. Perhaps a number of models posed for Leonardo while he was working on the picture. After all, Clara doesn’t look much like the painting, or the woman who emerged from it in Mona Lisa’s Revenge. Maybe the Fourth Doctor was recalling something Leonardo had told him about the model, or he was simply making a joke. As if to dispel any doubts that writer Robbie Morrison is familiar with the Tom Baker era, a couple of Indian characters (Tiger Maratha and his daughter Priyanka) are revealed to have encountered his Doctor.

Dave Taylor’s likenesses of the licensed characters continue to vary, except when obviously drawn from reference photographs. And do my eyes deceive me, or is one of the other characters (the huntress Rani Jhulka on page 5) based on a photograph of Jenna Coleman? On the other hand, the lighting effects are exquisite, in a tale that takes place mostly at night.

The characterisation, meanwhile, maintains its high level of accuracy, with some great lines from the grumpy old Doctor. These include, “Honestly, the more unsociable I am, the more people want to get in touch. I should try reverse psychology. Be friendly,” (Clara has a sarky response to that) and, “What do you want? Compassion? Sympathy? A shoulder to cry on? Someone to say, ‘There, there, it’ll be alright’? Or do you want to cut to the chase? To find out who murdered him and bring darkness to them?”

It’s a little early to judge this story. The ancient history of the goddess Kali, alluded to in the synopsis for this issue, hasn’t really come into play yet. Perhaps the next issue will cut to that particular chase.


Richard McGinlay

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