Written by Paul Cornell | Art by Christopher Jones | Published by Titan Comics
Second issues. I wonder if writers sit in front of that computer screen wondering just how they can maintain the quality of that first issue, or even up the ante. Or do they just laugh at us mere mortals and have it all planned out, knocking out those first few issues with ease. Maybe a bit of both. What I do know is Paul Cornell (and artist Christopher Jones) delivered a near perfect first issue. Perfect in tone, in characterisation, and in time and place. My one very slight grumble was that it felt a bit light in actual content, but most like me were probably so swept up in the nostalgia they didn’t really analyse it too much. Well, we’ve had the introductions and set up now, so I was looking for Cornell to really push things forward.
We start exactly where the last issue ended, as the Third Doctor comes face to face with the Second Doctor tinkering with the TARDIS. Seems he’s been sent by the Time Lords to assist with the currently happening alien invasion. If you came in late, metal based aliens have invaded, very small but capable of combining and converting metal objects into bigger creations, and currently being held at bay by a hastily assembled force field. The Brigadier is watching that force field when he is paid a surprise visit by General Mayhew, a senior military man asking one too many questions…One too many for the Brigadier that is, who unmasks him as The Master, the classic goatee beard and slicked back hair incarnation too. Is The Master behind all this? He insists he isn’t, and pulls off a fantastic escape by turning his face into a parachute. Really.
Back at UNIT, the to be expected squabbling between the two Doctor’s leaves them distracted enough that the captured alien artifact attacks, and infects, the Doctor’s companion Jo. The Doctor enters Jo’s mind, through some Gallifreyan mind meld, and finds himself in a sort of psychedelic environment speaking to Jo’s ‘inner self’. His attempts to rescue Jo by expelling the metal alien don’t go to plan, and in the room the Second Doctor and The Brigadier watch in horror as the Third Doctor and Jo turn into metal. I swear looking at that final panel, of Jo and The Doctor turned to metal, the Dr Who theme music started playing in my head.
Paul Cornell continues to bottle pure nostalgia with this series. Sure, it was an entertaining read in its own right, but where it excelled was in making it feel like a real Dr Who episode from the late 1970′s. The characters spoke with the voices of the actors who portrayed them, the invaders were a little hokey as they used to be on the TV show but we still buy into it as it’s all done with such love and affection. Cornell excels with the dialogue and interaction between both Doctors, capturing their crankiness well, and his writing of The Brigadier is also very strong. The Master was most definitely the Master, seemingly not the master mind behind things but as always working his own angle.
The artwork by Christopher Jones, in combination with the very nice colouring, was again superb. Clear, easy to follow, nice use of panel structure and camera angles, we could have been looking at storyboards for a lost episode. The likenesses are again excellent, something that is easy to take for granted but that many artists never quite get their heads around on adaptations.
I needn’t have worried about the “difficult second album” syndrome, this was every bit as good as last issue, and is at this rate going to be challenging for one of my favourite monthly books from any publisher. It’s certainly the best of the Who titles for my money. Cornell and Jones are clearly having a ball writing and drawing this, and I’m having a ball reading it.
Please sir, can I have some more?
Doctor Who: The Third Doctor #2 is out now from Titan Comics