Doctor Who: Time Trials – The Wolves of Winter Review

DW TT The Wolves of Winter

You know how in the previous Twelfth Doctor Titan Comic release I praised it for not being too continuity heavy? Well, they made up for it in spades here! The titular three-part story features the return of not one, not two but THREE enemies from the show’s past. Does it work? Let’s find out!

Official Synopsis:

In Bill’s first comic adventure, the TARDIS crashes into the heart of a Viking camp! But this is no interactive history lesson, and it seems that a terrifying alien force has taken hold over the icy kingdom. As the snow melts, the Doctor realises that he is about to face an unwelcome face from the past… And in a one-shot adventure, the Doctor takes Bill and Nardole on a trip to an intergalactic supermarket, where they make an unexpected new friend!

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

DW TT The Wolves of Winter 1

A Martian Ice Warrior infected with the Flood from Mars… makes sense! (to those who are into Doctor Who lore, anyway…)

So, let’s follow this storyline then: The Doctor and Bill arrive in the middle of a Viking party making landfall, complaining about monsters wanting their treasure. The Doctor soon joins up with them when they say they see a spaceship crash, and in the crashed ship? Ice Warriors! The Doctor speaks with them and finds out that they carry with them The Flood, the deadly virus from “The Waters of Mars”, so it becomes a race against time to stop it from reaching Earth’s oceans. THEN we see The Ancient One from “The Curse of Fenric” and soon realise that these “brave Vikings” are the ones who wrote the ancient runes discovered by The Doctor and co. in that story, and that the treasure they kept is Fenric’s flask. Blimey. Enough returning elements for you?

That all being said, it was a fun read, as fan-wanky as it was. The Flood is stopped, the Ice Warriors go back home to continue freezing their water to set up that TV story, and the remaining Vikings head to the future site of the church to bury the flask and leave the warning to set up THAT TV story. At only three issues it never slows down, I’ll give it that much…

Much like the previous Graphic Novel, the one-shot story seen at the end of this book isn’t great, but not bad. Just… average. The Doctor, Bill and Nardole head off to a futuristic and crazy massive supermarket to pick up a spare part needed for Missy’s barrier, and during the course of the shopping Bill meets a lost child while The Doctor and Nardole are bothered by robot security. It turns out the child is a member of an alien race that feeds off of empathy and just snuck away from its parents and took a form with a story that would generate some. Again, not bad, had a few funny moments with The Doctor and Nardole, but nothing special. More good than bad though, unlike the one-shot last time.

The Bad:

DW TT The Wolves of Winter 4

The Doctor and Bill talk “Back to the Future” in the only panel of this one-shot I could find…

Not a lot, I suppose. Both stories have flaws, an over-use of returning elements making it confusing for anyone not a diehard fan and the short length, respectively, but both are still enjoyable. The artwork is good too, though it doesn’t touch the art and especially colouring of the previous volume…

The Continuity:

DW TT The Wolves of Winter 2

Even Bill freaks out at the over-use of continuity!

Well, firstly I’m not going to list all the Ice Warriors stories, but I will mention that Bill recognises them, which places this after the TV story “Empress of Mars”. As mentioned The Flood comes from the actual Ice Warrior-less 10th Doctor TV story “The Waters of Mars”, while The Ancient One, Fenric’s flask and the Viking’s eventual fate all tie into the Seventh Doctor TV story “The Curse of Fenric”. I also had to chuckle when one of the Vikings, who mistakes The Doctor for Odin (which has happened before in “The Girl Who Died”) and asks him if this was Ragnarok, he replies “No, that was ages ago. They made me play the spoons!” which is a reference to the Seventh Doctor TV story “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy”.

As for the second story, beyond a few funny shop signs and other races wondering around, there isn’t a lot. The Doctor mentions when a time stream was crossed and it resulted in “Reapers everywhere, vicar set upon, TARDIS kaput!” which is a reference to the Ninth Doctor TV story “Father’s Day”, and Nardole says “carrot juice, carrot juice, carrot juice!” while shopping, an obvious reference to the Sixth Doctor’s last words in the “Trial of a Time Lord” TV epic’s final part “The Ultimate Foe”.

Overall Thoughts:

DW TT The Wolves of Winter 3

A very deep blue Ancient One. I guess the extra time in the ocean faded his colour a bit…

I sometimes see people refer to Titan Comics as “licensed fan fiction”, which is a really stupid phrase because if you’re a fan who has been hired to write a story of the thing you’re a fan of, then yeah… everything is. BUT this story did seem like a big fan really wanted to refer to some of his favourite stories so decided to just do them all at the same time, pacing be damned. It’s not bad, in fact I enjoyed it quite a bit, but if you’re not a diehard fan or are looking for something with a bit more substance, then you can safely skip this one…

4 Star Read

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