WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor #1 by James Peaty, Iolanda Zanfardino, Dijjo Lima and Comicraft, with Jody Houser, Rachael Stott and Enrica Angiolini, in stores now.
On the surface, Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor #1 reads like a good old-fashioned Doctor Who adventure starring David Tennant's 10th Doctor. All of the elements are there: a desperate crew on a spaceship, a mysterious legion of monsters, and a whole lot of running until the Doctor ultimately saves the day. But perhaps the most revealing bit of information lies on the cover.
Although this new series is titled The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor, Jodie Whittaker's 13th Doctor is nowhere to be seen in the first issue. So why is the series named after her? Well, the book involves a contribution from Jody Houser, Rachael Stott and Enrica Angiolini, the creative team that will be working on the official Thirteenth Doctor comic series. Even more interesting, the recap page names Chris Chibnall, the new showrunner of the Doctor Who television series, with a note thanking him for his "invaluable assistance."
All of that, in a comic book that doesn't even feature the Thirteenth Doctor. So why are so much of the people involved in the introduction of the first female Doctor, both on television and in the comics, mentioned as part of the creative minds behind the issue? Maybe because it introduces something else, instead.
The comic is your standard Doctor Who story. Tennant's Tenth Doctor runs about, saving the day and cracking jokes. the TARDIS is the same as ever, and the Doctor's two companions, Gabby Gonzalez and Cindy Wu, help him find a solution to their conundrum. All of the book's main elements are things familiar to Whovians -- except one. The monsters of the issue, which are electrified auras, were created during the test phase of a new cosmic weapon created by a group known as Earth-Corp. This corporation is in the business of colonizing alien worlds, and it appears to be both massive and powerful.
Earth-Corp casts a shadow over the entire issue, its dubious dealings driving the story forward. Before issue's end, once the day is saved, the Doctor's companions ask if Earth-Corp changes, further into the future. Tennant's Doctor answers "Eventually." A single word, yes, but one that sounds equally ominous and promising.
Could the Thirteenth Doctor's adventures, both on the screen and on the comic book page, feature the presence of Earth-Corp, perhaps as an overarching villain of some sort? Perhaps. After all, there are rumors circulating that Season 11 will feature a more serialized form of storytelling, which could mean that there will likely be one main antagonist running throughout the Doctor's new adventure. A massive corporation would be the perfect means to introduce numerous smaller adversaries while building to a final boss confrontation.
Whatever the case, whether Earth-Corp is introduced when Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor embarks on her first adventure, or if another villain entirely is introduced, we'll all find out when Doctor Who returns to television this fall.