Doctor Who: The School of Death Review

DW School of Death

After spending some time back with the Doctor Who Magazine comics, it’s time to rejoin the Titan line and take a look at the first two 12th Doctor collected graphic novels of the second “year”, starting with The School of Death. Technically a four-part story and a single part one, both of which are the last stories to feature Clara in the Titan line and both of which feature a returning enemy! So are they any good? Well…

Official Synopsis:

There’s something fishy going on at the remote Scottish school of Ravenscaur… Something that has bedevilled students and teachers alike… something that has lurked in the caverns beneath the school for millennia! Only the Doctor and Clara can unravel a deadly conspiracy that reaches as high as the Prime Minister of England!

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

DW School of Death 2

Clara and  two school kids… yep, this is a good representation of this rather annoying era…

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) – The Doctor is still popping in and out of Clara’s life, perfectly happy to do his own thing from time to time… though it is funny just how many alien threats appear to happen when he meets up with his companion…

Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) – Clara is a teacher at Coal Hill school, as well as one of the most important people to have ever touched The Doctor’s life… It’s a shame she’s a bit dull then, really…

Jack Irvine and Lucy Walker – Two students from Ravenscaur who manage to survive the onslaught by befriending Clara at just the right time…

The Sea Devils – Aquatic off-shoot of the Silurians, these specific Sea Devils seem to be of a different sort than the ones we’ve seen previously, sort of like the Silurians we’ve been seeing the past few years… Weird coincidence!

The Boneless – Entities from an entirely 2D dimension, they try to break through to our world via comics…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW School of Death 4

They should have put these panels at the start of the graphic novel, not at the start of the good story at the end!

The second story, dubbed “The Fourth Wall”, is a really fun read. Sure the return of the “Boneless” (still don’t like that name…) is a little redundant, but it plays with the idea in a different way by trapping everyone in a comic world and then having The Doctor speak to you, the reader, in ways that actually make sense, as he tries to break free to the “real world”. It’s a single issue, but it ended up being far more entertaining than the four parts that came before it.

As for The School of Death itself, I like the redesign of the Sea Devils, and while the plot isn’t very original it at least keeps the pace up well. Although I hate the Series 9 version of the Twelfth Doctor, his Matt Smith-esque running joke of carrying around a stuffed swordfish and insisting to Clara it was a new companion was at least funny.

The Bad:

DW School of Death 1

“I wear an eye-patch now, eye-patches are cool” … Wait, WRONG DOCTOR.

This was a good reminder of why I hated Series 9 a lot of the time. Clara is Godlike, The 12th Doctor is suddenly his 11th self attitude-wise for no reason, and this even throws in the Moffatt-era insistence of having children in the story. The school setting, with evil alien (or technically not alien here) possessed teachers has been done, we don’t need it again. I love Series 8 and 10, but this reminded me that the one in the middle was the Capaldi series to miss (except for Heaven Sent, which ironically is probably the best 12th Doctor story…)

The Continuity:

DW School of Death 3

If Sea Devils and the creature from the Black Lagoon ever had children…

The Sea Devils first appeared in 3rd Doctor TV serial “The Sea Devils”, and would return in 5th Doctor TV story “Warriors of the Deep”. They have made surprisingly few other appearances over the years.

The Boneless meanwhile first appeared in 12th Doctor TV story “Flatline”.

At one point we see Kate Stewart’s UNIT, including two Osgoods, putting this as happening after 12th Doctor story “The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion”.

Overall Thoughts:

The School of Death contains two stories, one that four parts long and mostly an annoyingly accurate recreation of one of my least favourite times of Doctor Who TV, and the other is a single part story that’s actually a lot of fun… In other words, not worth the price of admission, but at least I got something out of it…

The School of Death –

2 Star Read

The Fourth Wall –

4 Star Read

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