Doctor Who: Arena of Fear

Doctor Who: Arena of Fear
Written by Nick Abadzis
Illustrated by Eleonora Carlini, Elena Casagrande, Iolanda Zanfardino, with Simone De Meo & Luca Maresca
Published by Titan Comics
Format: 6 x 10 in, 128 pages, Color
ISBN: 9781785853227


“Once upon a time there was a dude.  He was different from other dudes . . . . He was kind of a geek, except not.  He was cool, genius-clever and funny and liked to save people from desperate situations and stuff.  If ever you met him, you would always remember him.” 

When you combine Doctor Who’s legendary storylines with the writing talents of Nick Abadzis you have a winning combination.  Period.  No need to read the back cover or leaf through the pages.  That combination is always going to be better than good . . . . That was my initial instinct when I picked up this graphic novel.  But did my reactive thoughts hold up upon literally reading Doctor Who: Arena of Fear?

Absolutely, 100%!

The story opens with Dr. Who and friends not knowing where they are or how they got there.  Along with the where and the how, everyone is also extremely curious to know who put them there and why.  If your in for a whirlwind of Tardis-time-traveling-adventure this graphic novel has got it . . . and much, much more . . . even a Wishing Well Witch, a Time Lord Test, and too many time portals to count . . .      

Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Doctor Who and friends have lost their memories and need to find out not only where they are, but who has put them there.

Major Characters: Doctor Who, Gabby Gonzalez, Cindy Wu, Cleo, Jack Harkness, Erik, Muthmunna, Sunzberro the River Goddess, Biped, Monax, Mem-Brain, Iktra, Unta, Tony, Effrid, Wishing Well Witch, Munmeth, Kria, Meerok, Ebonite, the Hivers, Vozmorth, Lucy, Josh Itchfield, Dr. Fayad, Claire Tooms, Randall, Anubis, Sutekh

Major Settings: Mountains; Forrest; Lake; the Time Bridge; Arena of Fear; the Tardis; Dewbury, England; Blackwall Hollow

Themes: Friendship, Adventure, Mystery, Individual and Community, Time and Space, Science, History, Problem-solving

Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards for Young Adult Readers

Craft and Structure:


Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

*The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.commoncore.org).

Lesson Idea for Middle School and/or High School Readers 


1. Draw a blank timeline template on the board (or find a blank graphic organizer timeline template online).  Ask students to draw the timeline (or write on the blank, printed handout timeline found online).


2. Above the timeline ask students to divide the timeline into three sections: beginning, middle, and end.

3. Below the timeline ask students to individually find two KEY moments in the graphic novel for each of the three section (3 sections, beginning-middle-end, 2 examples for each section equals a total of 6 moments) and BRIEFLY summarize and list the page number for each moment. 

4.  After they select their timeline’s KEY moments from the beginning, middle, and end of Doctor Who: Arena of Fear, educators next need to lead a discussion that asks students to share their thoughts/selections with the entire class and explain why they choose each KEY moment.

5.  After they explain why they selected each KEY moment, educators next need to ask the most crucial question regarding the craft and structure of an adventurous and mystery-based graphic novel like Doctor Who: Arena of Fear: “How do each of the KEY moments you selected inform the overall storyline?” or “How does each KEY moment play a part in filling in clues and / or moving the story along for the Doctor and his friends?”

6.  As students share and analyze each KEY moment from beginning to ending and it’s role in the craft and structure of the overall graphic novel educators and students can add to their timelines, creating a longer, more comprehensive list of craft and structure examples and explanations that inform the progression of the story in Doctor Who: Arena of Fear. 

7.  After reading the graphic novel and completing the timeline educators can assess student comprehension and the role each KEY moment plays in that story regarding craft and structure by presenting students with another blank timeline, during the next class meeting.  On the second timeline, students need to remember and reexplain two of the most critical KEY moments they learned about from the entire class’ previous collective discussion.  Students can use their own examples or those they gained from their peer’s insights during the previous class discussion.


Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2014); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (2015). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her three wiener dogs, Samantha, Max, and Alex Morgan Monnin.