COMIC BOOK REVIEW!Title: Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time
Author: Scott & David Tipton
Art: Simon Fraser
Color: Gary Caldwell
Publisher: IDW Publishing
DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by Net Galley, and is available now.
I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration of any kind for this review.
This is an excellent comic about Doctor Who in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary this year, which the current season on TV is somehow failing to get into. Hopefully this will change in the second half of the season, as we approach closer to the month and date of the anniversary. The comic I had a chance to read is divided into three chapters of 22 pages each, one chapter for each of the very first three doctors, portrayed on TV by William Hartnell (died 1975), Patrick Troughton (died 1987), and Jon Pertwee (died 1996). Even Richard Hurndall, who stood in for Hartnell in 1983's The Five Doctors is no longer with us.
That, I'm afraid, is a huge problem for TV. Once a series is half a century old, it’s inevitable that many of the original actors have died, or grown so old that they cannot reasonably portray the characters we remember so fondly, but this is no problem for this comic book. We can once again enjoy the people we loved and grew up with as fresh and vital as they ever were, and in new adventures!
The artwork in this comic is standard comic book art, but the renditions of the Doctors are remarkably reminiscent of the actors who played them, even down to facial expressions and dialog. Clearly this comic was done by people who know and love the show as well as I do - if not better. Chapter one, for example, was very much William Hartnell, and I'd actually forgotten how he kept misstating Ian Chesterton's name! But here he is back to life, spouting his exasperated and dramatic catch-phrases! It was nice to see a strong scientific element get some mention in the story, too (they hang out with Thomas Huxley in 1868), but I wasn't quite as impressed by the drawing of his companions. They're still better than anything I could manage, I freely admit, but not quite as captivating as the Doctor himself was.
This chapter takes place after his granddaughter, Susan has left the TARDIS and has been replaced by Vicki, who joins Barbara Wright (played on TV by Jacqueline Hill, sadly also no longer with us) and Ian (played on TV by William Russell). They face the Zarbi, a race of ant-like beings the size of Great Danes, which are harmless unless taken over by an evilly-inclined controlling agency as they are here, by an octopus-like creature called The Animus and invading the London underground. On TV, we first met these creatures in season 2, ep 5 of the classic Doctor Who series back in the sixties, in The Web Planet. The Zarbi are freed when Ian runs over The Animus with one of the trains! Unfortunately, right then, all three of the Doc's companions disappear!
In Chapter 2, we find ourselves with Patrick Troughton's portrayal of The Doc, traveling with Zöe and the feisty, kilt-wearing Jamie McCrimmond, a highlander from the mid-eighteenth century, both of which are drawn much better than the first doctor's companions. Jaime was played on TV by Fraser Hines, and he appeared in more episodes of Doctor Who than any other companion - and more episodes than most of the doctors for that matter! The three of them materialize in a store which specializes in selling police boxes! They have models in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so The Doc's TARDIS fits right in. When they step out of the store, they're in a mall, which happens to be one of the greatest trading posts in the galaxy, but it’s also a haven of black-market activity. I loved the one frame where The Doc is standing outside a hat store and there's a fez in the window, and then the next frame is a close up of The Doc angled so that it looks like he's actually wearing the fez! lol!
Some of this activity is slave-trading, and The Doc decides he's going to put an end to that! They follow the alien traders, who look rather like alligators, back to their store, where one of them takes an interest in Jamie, observing that he's from the past and therefore valuable. As the three time travelers meander into a bicycle shop (where one bicycle looks remarkably like the bikes from the TV series The Prisoner!), Jamie is kidnapped by the aliens and disappears. Fortunately, the Doc, in true second doctor fashion, has anticipated this, and has put a tracking device on him! He and Zöe trail him to an auction house, where slaves are being auctioned off to the highest bidder. The Doc's tracker leads them straight to Jamie, where they find many slaves in holding pens. They free all of them, but once again, right as their adventure reaches a successful conclusion, The Doc's companions disappear. Where the heck are they going? Who is taking them? Well, I guess we know it's not Who!
Chapter three is the third incarnation of the Doctor. He's hanging out with his usual companions, Sarah Jane Smith (played on TV by Elisabeth Sladen) and Liz Shaw (played on TV by Caroline John). Both of these actors are sadly no longer with us. The problem for this doctor is Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart's erratic behavior. Stewart was played on TV by Nicholas Courtney, now also deceased. Courtney had to be one of the few people in Doctor Who who had actually fulfilled in real life the role he played on screen, in that he actually was in the British army for a while! The Doc discovers that Lethbridge-Stewart is being controlled by the Remorax, by means of a small fish-like creature in his throat. Once that's removed, he returns to his usual self, but he, along with The Doc's other two companions is abducted by a strange man in a hooded costume. So now we have an idea of who's behind it, but we still know nothing of exactly who this person is, or why he's doing this.
And that's all we get! I hate this! Now I'll go insane trying to figure out what happens next until I can get my hands on volume two of this series! But what a joy to see a series celebrate the Doctor's companions? I can hardly wait for volume 2.
If you're neither a fan of Doctor Who, nor a fan of comic books, then this is probably not for you, but if you're even mildly into either of them, I recommend this series based on this opening salvo. It’s fun, it’s well done, it’s a wonderful trip down the Doctor Who memory lane. I don’t know if this will ever become a collector's item, but it's about time(!) someone did something for the 50th anniversary, and I'm glad it was this! I'm definitely going to be looking for these coming on sale. Not for myself, of course, but for my kids...Ahem!