Doctor Who has experienced a surge of popularity of late. In the US, there are many new fans of the show. Many are just finding out how deep the rabbit hole of Doctor Who goes. IDW Publishing is hoping to get a few of those fans t0 check out their new series, Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time. The 12 issue miniseries is IDW’s contribution to the show’s 50th anniversary in 2013.
IDW has featured classic versions of the Doctor before. IDW has a reprint line, Doctor Who Classics (featuring Doctors 4-7 to date), as well as a 6-issue miniseries The Forgotten, starring the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant). This is the first time they are producing new stories starring the classic era Doctors without a modern Doctor appearing in the same issue. Each issue of Prisoners of Time focuses on a previous incarnation of the Doctor. This being the second issue, it of course features the Second Doctor. This regeneration was portrayed on TV by Patrick Troughton from 1966-69.
In this story, the TARDIS crew (The Doctor, along with longtime companion Jamie, an 18th century Scot, and Zoe, a computer genius from the year 2000) arrive in a commerce hub (think the Mall of the Universe) and discover black market slave trading going on. The Doctor immediately sets a plan into motion to expose the reptilian slavers, using Jamie as bait. A lot of the Doctor’s plan seems to count on a certain amount of luck, being in the right place at the right time, with the right people around him for it to succeed. It succeeds, but leaves the Doctor alone at the end, setting up part of the greater mystery of the whole series.
The story is simple, and there is not a lot of mystery here (except at the end). We are given just the most general sense of who this Doctor is (but he is very similar to the current TV incarnation, at least in temperament) and how he operates, though I am not sure how much of that comes across in the limited time we get to spend with him. Fans who have not seen this version of the Doctor on TV may find his character lacking in some of the puckish charm his later, modern era counterparts have. I do think that Jamie’s basic character comes across well. However, we don’t get a good sense of who Zoe is. She comes across as a typical 60’s girl, instead of the 21st century genius she is.
I was glad to see Lee Sullivan’s name on the cover. He has long been associated with Doctor Who, having drawn many comics in the UK for Doctor Who Magazine, as well as providing art for the BBC’s webcasts of the audio stories “Death Comes to Time”, “Real Time” and the Paul McGann version of “Shada”. His work here is as good as anywhere else he has worked on the character. Sullivan does a fine job with the likenesses of the characters, but it is not very dynamic. There are plenty of Easter Eggs to be found in among the aliens in the Mall at the end of the Universe (both of classic Doctor Who monsters, and ones from the new series). I was particularly amused with the TARDIS’ arrival in a store that exclusively sells Police Boxes (some of which look more familiar than others).
It will be through glimpses like this that most fans will get to know the second Doctor. Of all the original series Doctors, his era is sadly the most incomplete, due to the BBC policy of wiping tapes in the 1970’s. (This was before anyone thought of the possibility of a home video market.) While many of those episodes were found, 106 episodes of Doctor Who are still missing to this day. The loss of so many of the Second Doctor’s story is a real shame for fans. It was that era that really established so much of Doctor Who’s mythology as well as its narrative form for the rest of the 20th Century. All the actors who have played the role since have credited Troughton for a lot of the character’s character. The Second Doctor’s time is where we saw him go from an adventurer to champion of what is right. He also introduced a great deal of the character’s humor and compassion. It is highly unlikely that the show would have continued on after the First Doctor (William Hartnell) left the show had Troughton’s Doctor not had been as immediately likable and engaging.
As a whole, the Prisoners of Time is engaging, as each Doctor finds himself trapped and alone by the shadowy figure in black. It is speculating, but it would seem that this story should be leading to all 11 Doctors (or more even?) to meet, but will they? If they do, can any story live up to expectations? Especially given that they will have very little time to work together in the story’s final chapter(s)?
Only time will tell.
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #2
From IDW Comics
A $3.99, 32 page comic
Writer: Scott & David Tipton
Artist: Lee Sullivan