Review by Frank Plowright
Having adhered to a shared structure for their individual stories of Doctors one to eight in volumes one and two, Scott and David Tipton vary their method as the finale approaches. The mysterious adversary reveals himself to Doctor number nine (as played by Christopher Eccleston), because he has a connection with that iteration of the character. It’s a smart choice of foe, someone who ended their TV appearance significantly changed, and has the means and motivation to conceive a suitably grandiose plan. The David Tennant version still has his own adventure, but the thread running through the entire series suddenly blossoms with the eleventh doctor.
There’s some amusement to be derived from the artist previously known as Matt Smith now credited as Matthew Dow Smith (sample art right) in order to avoid confusion with the actor playing the character he’s drawing, Matt Smith, Doctor number eleven. He’s also one of two artists to have a shot at illustrating all the other Doctors, although not as often as Kelly Yates who draws the closer. It’s not very impressive. He concentrates on ensuring the likenesses are correct, but the time spent on those leaves little time for other aspects, so this has largely a background free conclusion and the layouts are bland. David Messina and Elena Casagrande (sample art left), both veterans of IDW’s Star Trek material, have a more generic style, telling the story, but neither distinctive in the manner of the artists who illustrated earlier chapters.
The plot itself is cohesive and well concluded in that everything makes sense, with a conflicted villain accompanied by someone seen in the previous book. Unfortunately, only leaving a single chapter to tidy up the entire story results in it being unsatisfying. Yes, we see all eleven Doctors together in the same room, but many have nothing to do other than stand around and comment, and some don’t even have anything to say. It’s the then current version of Matt Smith who’s given the largest role in the finale, with his two predecessors filling out the secondary, or assistant roles. The assorted abducted companions are also largely sidelined. Yes, it’s difficult to see how all eleven Doctors could contribute, and all had their moment in the spotlight earlier in the story, but when Frobisher the shape-changing penguin has a bigger part to play than several Doctors, then something should have been worked out more efficiently.
Complicated licensing arrangements mean that this book is technically unavailable in the UK, but Titan published an Archives edition of the entire story, while IDW collected the entirety into a single book in 2014.