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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
The Twelfth
Doctor Time Trials: A Confusion of Angels (Hardback)


Writer: Richard Dinnick
Artists: Francesco Manna and Pasquale Qualano
Colourist: Hi-Fi
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: UK £18.99, US $22.99
Age: 12+
ISBN: 978 1 78586 689 0
112 pages
Publication Date: 11 July 2018

When the Doctor and his companions are drawn to a seemingly empty transport vessel in deadly trouble in deep space, they’re pulled into an impossible conflict – between the robotic Heavenly Host and the terrifying Weeping Angels! Featuring the Twelfth Doctor and fan-favourite companions Bill, Nardole and Missy… along with some other familiar faces! Writer Richard Dinnick teams up with artists Francesco Manna (Vampirella, Witchblade) and Pasquale Qualano (Batman ’66, DC Comics Bombshells) to navigate the thrilling climax of the Twelfth Doctor’s Year Three comics adventures…!

This graphic novel collects #3.10–3.13 of Titan Comics’ Twelfth Doctor adventures, the final four issues of Year Three. A Confusion of Angels comprises a single four-part story, but writer Richard Dinnick packs in plenty of plot ingredients to keep you entertained – including several old enemies.

First up, there’s the Heavenly Host, whom we last met in Voyage of the Damned. The Jeden, the cargo vessel on which the TARDIS travellers find themselves, is part of the same Max Capricorn fleet as the ill-fated Titanic (the shipping magnate himself also puts in a brief, on-screen appearance). This time, however, the golden-haloed robots are not to blame for the crew’s troubles. Indeed, one of the Host’s number, nicknamed Gabe, is decidedly helpful, like D-84 in The Robots of Death. And like D-84, Gabe gets some poignant moments later on in the story…

No, the difficulties aboard the Jeden are down to another group of angelic winged creatures altogether: the Weeping Angels. They stealthily pick off the ship’s crew one by one, like the alien from a certain sci-fi horror film franchise – a comparison that is not lost on Bill Potts. “Ripley not Dallas,” she mutters to herself for moral support as she crawls through a gloomy service duct, “Ripley not Dallas…” In a scene that is reminiscent of the deadly statues’ debut episode Blink, the companion also discovers a message from the Doctor graffitied on a wall.

You might think that having the Heavenly Host taking on the Weeping Angels would be a novel enough concept in itself, but Dinnick doesn’t do things by halves when it comes to reprising and repurposing elements from Doctor Who’s past. So, at the story’s halfway point, he also throws in the Judoon and a familiar-looking Raxacoricofallapatorian. Unfortunately, the explanation for the latter’s presence comes a little late in the day.

In addition to the regular TARDIS crew of the Doctor, Bill and Nardole, the writer also provides the imprisoned Missy with a number of memorable scenes. She is at her devious best here, reflecting a point in time during Series 10 when we really didn’t know whether or not we could trust her. In a chilling foreshadowing of her television swansong, she remarks to the Doctor that, “One day, you’ll come across a lost ship drifting in space that you can’t save.” There is a respectful sense of finality to this scene, which takes place on what proves to be the last page of Titan’s Twelfth Doctor strip prior to the first glimpses of his successor in the miniseries The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor.

The art chores on A Confusion of Angels are shared equally between Francesco Manna, who handles the first half, and Pasquale Qualano, who takes care of the second. Manna’s highly detailed work is reminiscent of the American artist Jerome K. Moore, though he has a habit of depicting female crewmembers of the Jeden in exploitatively tight outfits. Qualano matches Manna’s style well – so much so that you might not at first notice the changeover from one to the other – and he gives us a neat ‘reflected’ Doctors effect during a flashback sequence.

Some of the action is rather perplexing, though this is more the fault of the writing than the art, as Dinnick, not for the first time, overestimates how much information can be conveyed through pictures and sound effects alone. It is not always clear what the “FWWWWIIIIITT” and “SVIIIIIIIIZ” sounds signify. I eventually worked out that the former is the whoosh of a Weeping Angel moving while the latter is the blast from a Judoon weapon… but whose hand is that coming into frame on page 62?

Despite some initial confusion (of Angels), the story benefits from a second read. A Confusion of Angels is far from being my favourite Twelfth Doctor graphic novel, but it nevertheless offers a host of entertaining moments.


Richard McGinlay

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