❉ ‘Invasion of the Mindmorphs Part 1 of 2’ is a postmodern screwball comedy.
Postmodernism is nothing new in the Doctor Who comics line. The DWM strip dabbled with the likes of The Fangs of Time and IDW’s last Who comic indulged in a crossover between Doctor Who and our reality with The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who. Even more recently Titan’s ninth Doctor line had the Doctor land in a world of fans and imitators. These tended to be wistful exercises in the writers working out what the Doctor represented to them, the clever fourth wall breaking games offset with the genuine emotion of a series that had meant so much to them for so long.
The latest twelfth Doctor story’s take on postmodernism is perhaps more straightforward than the others. It opens with the kind of disorienting, arresting scene typical of Steven Moffat’s own stories but smartly adapted for the medium but the explanation is perhaps a tad unimaginative, whiffing slightly of a writer approaching a deadline and drawing on the old ‘write what you know’ advice too literally. Once the necessary explanations are out of the way though, it settles down into a fun screwball comedy with the Doctor acting as the guardian angel to the couple who seem destined to end up together but somehow don’t realise it.
What makes this worth a read is Rachel Stott’s splendidly energetic artwork augmented by a fine colouring job from Rod Fernandes. Stott’s asked to do everything from a subtly wrong version of Doctor Who to tyrannosauruses, sky whales and paradises and her clean lines and eye for spectacle and knack for eyecatching splash pages really bring the story to life. Ripped away from the subdued hues which characterise his onscreen adventures Capaldi’s Doctor becomes a fizzing presence, whisking one off companions Sonny and Val off round the universe in a mad whirl of colliding galaxies, dinosaurs and general universal wonder. It’s incredible how well this Doctor suits such a style, though maintaining on screen would probably exhaust any lead actor inside a month. In that sense it’s a lovely take on the character uniquely suited to the medium but still consistent with the occasional manic energy Capaldi’s displayed onscreen.
All this though is a prelude to the main story, which is really just getting underway by the cliffhanger ending. The Doctor and friends end up on Zarma, a planet, ‘a creative utopia home to the greatest writers, artist thinkers and philosophers in the universe’, ‘one of the most beautiful environments you’ll ever see’. Naturally, in the grand tradition of Doctor Who, it’s not the galactic nirvana of the Doctor’s memory and no sooner have they landed then they’re up against a bunch of giant flying brains who’ve cowed the populace and appear to feast on thoughts, dreams and imagination. Presumably they’re the Mindmorphs of the title. Again, a bunch of brains feeding on the creative resources of the Doctor and his writers… the second half of the story might prove me wrong but the metaphor looks about as subtle as The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.
Ultimately, although the premise might look a little on the Mary Sue side this ends up being a lot of fun, successfully capturing the wonder and danger of travelling with the Doctor that’s arguably been lost in recent seasons of the TV show.
❉ ‘Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #2.14’ (Writer: Robbie Morrison
Artist: Rachael Stott) was published on 1 February 2017 by Titan Comics, RRP £3.30