23rd Jan2017

‘Doctor Who: The Third Doctor #4′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Paul Cornell | Art by Christopher Jones | Published by Titan Comics

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This series has been a rare case of when, occasionally, style over substance is not a problem. Although the storyline has been perfectly fine, what has made this book work so well is the affection for the characters and the era. Get that right, and you can tack on pretty much any adventure you want and it would work perfectly fine. Luckily, in Paul Cornell, you have a man that can happily combine the two. I almost feel like sitting and reading this book in my pajamas on the sofa, it has such an authentic 1970′s early Saturday evening BBC feel.

What has gone before proves the above. The main storyline, of an alien invasion by metal based life forms, is perfectly fine, but it is the fun of having companion Jo Grant, The Brigadier and The Master running round with UNIT, as well as the seeming appearance of The Second Doctor, only to then discover it was in fact presumed dead evil doppelganger Ramon Salamander. Salamander has been up to a whole lot of no good while masquerading as Patrick Troughton’s version. We get a little recap of what happened to him after being sucked into the Time Vortex the last time we saw him, and how he arrived back on Earth in the past and amassed a fortune over the years while studying The Doctor, learning all he could so he could steal, or replicate, Time Lord technology. He also created the ‘alien’ invasion as a smokescreen for his ultimate goals.

Meanwhile, the Third Doctor is in the unusual position of being assisted by The Master. Not for any heroic reasons of course, but The Master doesn’t want any mere human stealing Time Lord technology, plus he wants to be the first to rule the world anyway. At least he’s honest. Sort of. They all rush to find Salamanders HQ, where The Master peels off by himself and tries to get to Salamander first while The Doctor and UNIT fight the ‘aliens’. He also gets a little mind control going on with UNIT’s Captain Yates until The Doctor arrives…something that no doubt will come back to haunt UNIT later. The Doctor, The Brigadier, and The Master storm into Salamanders laboratory to confront him, only to discover they are too late. How so? Salamander has turned the entire building into, effectively his own TARDIS, his very own time machine using Gallifreyan tech, and he has launched into the time stream. Cue end of episode theme music…

The fun just increases with each issue. Again, character and dialogue rule. The Master is as dastardly as ever, The Brigadier as inflexible in his views as ever, Jo as optimistic as ever, and The Third Doctor at his karate chopping best. A fine cast captured in their pomp and written as such. It is impossible to read without a smile on your face. Christopher Jones is again on top form with the artwork, delivering strong action panels and some great up close facial expressions, drawn as though the characters are playing towards a camera. The likenesses are generally very good, something very important to capturing the essence of the characters, as much as the great dialogue does.

A little cliché perhaps, but Paul Cornell was born to write this book. It’s clearly a love letter to a character and an era he has a lot of affection for, and that makes it all the more fun. Makes me want to dig out some of those old episodes and re-watch them, and you can’t give a greater compliment than that.

This is the best Dr. Who book bar none right now, I love this series so much I’d get a room with it.

****½  4.5/5

Doctor Who: The Third Doctor #4 is out now from Titan Comics.

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