Written by Paul Cornell | Art by Christopher Jones | Published by Titan Comics
The first two issues of this series have had me dribbling with excitement and nostalgia. Yes, not the most edifying sight you’ll ever imagine, but true. Paul Cornell has somehow managed to bottle the feel and look of not only the Jon Pertwee Third Doctor himself, but of the era, of the tone of the type of adventures The Doctor was experiencing back in those heady days. Being honest, the actual substance of the last two issues has been less important than capturing that authenticity, putting the reader back in that time and space.
For those that came in late, all you need to know is that The Doctor has been trying to help UNIT fight off an alien invasion, an invasion of metal based life forms that can make themselves into various bigger objects and weapons. To add to the fun, the Time Lords had sent The Second Doctor (the more acerbic Patrick Troughton incarnation) back to assist, and the classic goatee-sporting incarnation of The Master is also running around causing mischief. All as glorious as it sounds. Oh, and companion Jo Grant has been transformed into metal and The Doctor has had to enter her mind to try and save her, where things have not been going awfully well.
While the Third Doctor fights for his and Jo’s life in her mindscape, he makes contact with the Hive mind to try and understand the visitors better. They seem to be trapped in some way as well, and allow The Doctor and Jo to break free from the metallic substance. The Brigadier is there to welcome them back, except he whips off a rubber mask to reveal he is actually The Master, doing what he does best. Lurking. The two have a fabulous scuffle, pitting Martian kendo against Venusian akido, until The Master decides this is all beneath him and insists on talking instead. He has a couple of big revelations up his sleeve, as The Doctor discovers.
Firstly, The Master has been bugging UNIT HQ for quite some time; the master former time lord disguised himself as a tea lady it seems to infiltrate the top secret organisation. Secondly, and more importantly, he notes there has been no temporal activity for months, so how exactly is The Second Doctor currently on Earth? Turns out he’s not the Second Doctor at all, but lookalike Ramon Salamander, a man with a pretty nasty history of murder, mayhem, and attempted world domination. The supposed alien invasion now takes on something of a new light.
Another fun romp with plenty of twists and turns along the way. What makes the journey fun is all the little touches Cornell throws in for us. The dialogue between The Doctor and Jo over his admission that he hangs around on Earth when he should be off doing more important things, the reliance by The Master on the old rubber masks trick, which even he admits should be retired to the UNIT museum. The reference to various intergalactic fighting styles. It’s all in there, loving layered in to a fun plot that excels itself by dragging Ramon Salamander back from relative obscurity to be revealed as the villain. The Doctor, The Brigadier, and The Master are all written perfectly, as is Jo.
What I most like about Christopher Jones’s artwork is the feeling of constant motion, of the use of page and panel size to speed up or slow the action. More conventional dialogue heavy scenes have the traditional box panels, the action sequences have panels bleeding into each other, larger size irregular shaped panels, and I loved the double page spread of The Doctor and The Master physically fighting. You don’t see that very often.
This book is indeed truly classic Who.
Doctor Who: The Third Doctor #3 is released by Titan Comics on November 30th.