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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
The Thirteenth Doctor
Time Out of Mind (Paperback)


Writer: Jody Houser
Artists: Roberta Ingranata with Giorgia Sposito and Valeria Favoccia
Colourists: Enrica Eren Angiolini with Tracy Bailey and Shari Chankhamma
Publisher: Titan Comics
RRP: UK £13.99, US $16.99
Age: 12+
ISBN: 978 1 78586 889 4
112 pages
Publication Date: 02 April 2020

Is Father Christmas a myth, a man, or a Time Lord? Are chimneys bigger on the inside? Find out as the Doctor celebrates the holidays the only way she can – with mystery, danger and a little help from her friends! Join the Thirteenth Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz as they find themselves caught up in a deadly game of chance! What follows is a magical, memory-altering adventure through space, featuring aliens, elves, toy soldiers and… could it be… Santa Claus!? From Eisner-nominated writer Jody Houser and fan-favourite artist Roberta Ingranata comes a time-travelling tale like you’ve never seen before…

Since this graphic novel collects the Thirteenth Doctor’s two-issue Holiday Special from the end of 2019, you might expect it to be rather a slender affair. In fact, Time Out of Mind runs to the customary 112 pages. That’s because both issues are almost twice the usual length for a comic book, and this volume also includes the strip from 2019’s Free Comic Book Day.

In terms of plot, however, it still makes for fairly slim pickings. The Free Comic Book Day strip is presented first, which is just as well. The TARDIS crew’s relatively uneventful trip to an intergalactic funfair, which is unevenly illustrated by a range of artists, sets up a situation that will have repercussions during the subsequent adventure. This in turn lends the fairground story, in which the Doctor solves Graham’s difficulties almost as soon as they arise, a degree of gravitas and substance that it simply wouldn’t possess otherwise.

The main event is more diverting, though it is hampered by some poorly executed narrative revelations. Upon seeing a big house in the middle of a snowy wilderness, Ryan mentions Santa Claus, which is something of a logical leap, to say the least. It seems as though a line of two of essential dialogue has been cut from the strip – either that, or Ryan has read the back-cover blurb! Later on in the tale, the Doctor refers to an apparently male character as “they”, even though said character’s gender fluidity has not yet been disclosed.

The presence of human-sized toy soldiers is a nice nod to The Mind Robber, which subtly reminds us of how surreal Doctor Who can be at times. This encourages us to open our minds to the possibility that Santa and his elves might actually exist in the Time Lord’s universe. Don’t forget that the Eleventh Doctor, in A Christmas Carol, claimed to have met Father Christmas, “or, as I’ve always known him, Jeff.” Jeff himself gets a name check here, and Eleven’s fez also puts in an appearance, in another tip of the hat (pun intended) to the programme’s past. (In comic-strip terms, the Doctor and Santa go way back, having first met in the 1965–6 TV Comic adventure A Christmas Story.)

As usual with the Thirteenth Doctor series, the pace is leisurely, but Time Out of Mind will pleasantly pass the time, especially if you’re out of your mind on too much mulled wine.


Richard McGinlay

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