DW: The Clockwise War Review

DW The Clockwise War

The Clockwise War promised a lot. It was the last Twelfth Doctor story in DWM, it featured the return of classic DWM character Fey, and the cover promised a look at a younger version of the War Doctor at long last. Somehow, The Clockwise War managed to pull all of this off to become the best DWM comic story since The Flood, and given how much I like the 8th Doctor’s DWM run, that says a lot! So let’s take a closer look…

Synopsis:

After the shocking appearance of The Doctor’s one-time friend and ally Fey led to a threatening message, The Doctor and Bill soon go on a journey that takes them from one end of the universe to the other, all thanks to some unfinished fallout from the Time War…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

DW The Clockwise War 1

What better way to show off a bunch of the cast than with the cover image?

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) – The Doctor was visited by a ghost from his past, a time in his past he does everything to try and forget. Now The Doctor has no other choice but to face up to it…

Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) – Bill isn’t quite sure what’s made The Doctor flip out so much, but after all the danger he’s gotten her out of (after having got her into it…) she’s happy to try and help him out as well…

Fey Truscott-Sade – Fey Truscott was once a top British agent who ended up conjoining with a Time Lord agent known as Shayde. The powerful force known as Fey Truscott-Sade became a very handy tool during the Time War, but a tool is all she ended up feeling like… One that was sadly discarded…

General Kenossium Often simply known as The General, Kenossium has witnessed a Time Lord she admired fail to regenerate, the start of an epidemic, and she thinks The Doctor knows what’s going on…

Hugo Wilding Hugo is an experienced MI6 agent who worked alongside Patrick Lake to create the space-driven arm of MI6 known as Wonderland. His old friend Alexander Truscott has recently become something of a celebrity, and he knows that’s not a good thing…

Annabel Lake – Annabel is a top agent for Wonderland, and Patrick Lake’s daughter. She is always upset when The Doctor breaks her normally faultless cover ops, but in this case he needs her help, rather than it being an effort to join one of her missions…

Bass Reeves – Bass is a Western gun-slinger who thanks to his black skin found it hard to fit in. He helped The Doctor and Bill with an issue a while ago, and now has found himself recruited by one of The Doctor’s kind…

Alexander Truscott – The only living relative of Fey, Alexander Truscott found out about the wider universe when what was left of Fey arrived in his house a few years ago. He has been manipulating her and others around him to give himself the best chance to climb to the top of the ladder, and some other-wordly powers to boot…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW The Clockwise War 2

A young War Doctor! How long have we waited for that?

How much you get out of The Clockwise War depends entirely on how much you know about DWM lore, specifically the Eighth Doctor run and a few more recent stories, as even though they do their best to fill the reader in, it really pops if you know the significance of what you’re reading.

Fey Truscott-Sade was always an interesting character, an old spy fused with a weird Time Lord agent to create a spy with super-powers. The thing is, after her last few appearances she was left to wander the universe as this weird super-spy, and so the idea that a young War Doctor would recruit her as one of his first soldiers made perfect sense. I loved the flashback issue, with the arrogant and youthful War Doctor, some Sisters of Kahn, and Fey battling off some other-dimensional horror. Then things go wrong, the planet’s inhabitants, all being children due to a weird evolution cycle, mostly die or are mutated beyond recognition, and Fey is seemingly killed while trying to cradle one of those children as she begs for The Doctor to save her, but all the Time Lord can do is watch on in horror. After hinting at it with his first words, this incident cements it: The War Doctor demands not to be called “Doctor” anymore…

Either side of the big flashback is still a really great story. Fey is taking orders from the adult version of the child she tried to save, but it turns out that it was all in her head, and the child wasn’t as lucky as she was. Fey was driven mad by anger and grief, doing her best to stop Time Lords from regenerating as punishment for their role in the War, and enjoying slowly mentally torturing The Doctor. Her realisation and redemption is capped off by Shayde removing itself from Fey Truscott as the cost of its life, Fey soon waking up in a hospital bed wondering where The Doctor and Izzy were, showing her memory to be restored to when she was previously herself, the horrors of the Time War being taken along with Shayde.

DW The Clockwise War 4

The Doctor, at this moment, probably regrets the whole pulling her into the Time War thing… and probably the whole Time War thing in general, to be fair…

The Doctor’s response is to eventually gather together a small force himself, with Bill still in toe (who has a great moment of resenting the idea of The Doctor leaving her behind because he was in trouble, after all the times he came to her aide). The General, who now gets the official name of Kenossium, from several TV stories, and a couple of old comic characters in agent Annabel Lake, cowboy Bass Reeves and the previously grief-stricken Native American lady Totika. Admittedly they didn’t do a lot until they burst in and saved The Doctor and Bill from the crazy and politically powerful Alexander Truscott.

The group then all enter some nightmare dimension full of horrors that the Time Lords had banished for the final confrontation. It’s great stuff, with solid artwork to top it off. The Twelfth Doctor’s final line is “I don’t say goodbye to people I want to meet again”, which is a rather nice sentiment.

There are a few other continuity nods (like the cat-person Jodafra, who returns from the Eighth Doctor comics so he can be killed) and some great interactions all round. Unsurprisingly, it comes highly recommended by myself!

The Bad:

With the exception of being possibly too heavily connected to comic stories from a decade or two ago, there isn’t much to dislike. Once or twice some of the artwork became a bit overly simplified and lost some of the Capaldi likeness, but they were few and far between.

Oh and the Clockwise Men, corrupted humans that talk like fairytale characters with clocks for eyes, felt a bit out of place for what was otherwise a more seriously-toned story.

The Continuity:

DW The Clockwise War 3

The Doctor and Bill face off with the rather crap Clockwise Men…

As mentioned, Fey Truscott-Sade first fused in Eighth Doctor comic “Wormwood”, after having made her debut in the comic “Tooth and Claw” a few stories earlier. It was revealed that the Phantom Piper (from “The Phantom Piper”) and the actions of Totika from “The Parliament of Fear” were all thanks to her influence.

Bass Reeves and Totika appear from the aforementioned “Parliament of Fear”, where as Hugo Wilding first appeared in Eleventh Doctor story “Hunters of the Burning Stone”. The Lakes made their first appearance in also in an Eleventh Doctor story, that being “The Broken Man”.

Not only those, but Jodafra of the Obilvion Empire returns from the Eighth Doctor comics “Oblivion” and “Bad Blood” and Gol Clutha the merc for hire returns from Twelfth Doctor comic “The Stockbridge Showdown” also puts in a brief appearance. Oh and we also get a brief return to the Renath Archive from “Matildus” as well as a sequence or two depicting the Dreamspace from most of the Twelfth Doctor / Bill run of DWM comics… *sigh*, that’s a lot of comic continuity!

The General first appeared in the multi-Doctor TV epic “Day of the Doctor”. His regeneration into the current her happened in the Twelfth Doctor TV episode “Hell Bent”.

Also this is the first official depiction of a young War Doctor, the one hinted at in the brassy reflection at the end of the Eighth Doctor’s final episode, “Night of the Doctor”.

Overall Thoughts:

The Clockwise War is a hell of a roller coaster ride. So many twists, turns, and continuity bits and bobs. At seven issues it’s nicely paced as well, giving a whole issue to a great flashback sequence, and still having plenty of time to build to the big pay-off. The Twelfth Doctor’s run in DWM was good, with moments of great, but its best moment came right at the end. Can’t recommend this enough!

5 Star Read

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