Written by Paul Cornell | Art by Christopher Jones | Published by Titan Comics
Ah, the Third Doctor series, one of a handful of books I really look forward to each issue. This has been a blast, a near perfect blend of nostalgia and skillful writing, of a nod to the past and a wink to the future. It is helping to fill in gaps we never knew were there to begin with. Jon Pertwee’s Doctor lacks the humour and wackiness of many of his future regenerations, but makes up for it with his flair and sheer individuality. And his Venusian karate of course, let’s not forget that.
Last issue saw Salamander, the doppelganger and sometime impersonator of The Second Doctor, drop the pretence of the alien invasion and reveal his true plan. He has been biding his time, stealing and replicating Time Lord technology on Earth, all the while studying The Doctor from afar. This turn of events has led to the expected combining of forces between The Doctor and The Brigadier and UNIT, but also the not so common alliance with The Master. The Master hasn’t turned soft, he just doesn’t like non-Gallifreyans messing about with Time Lord tech, and wants to actually conquer the Earth himself. Strange bedfellows indeed. Last issue left us on a cliffhanger, as Salamander triggered his own TARDIS and launched everyone into the time stream…
After a frantic tussle, Salamander escapes into 1868 England, hotly pursued by The Doctor, The Master, and The Brigadier aboard a cloaked helicopter. Salamander has a twisted plan to take his technology back into the past and use it to become a major mover and shaker in the British Empire, then the world. While The Master reveals he has a secret passageway to Parliament under the streets of London Salamander is already there, trying to persuade MP’s he can help them achieve world domination with his technological help. As The Doctor and Salamander go head to head to try and persuade the Government to ignore the other, The Master does what The Master does best, swoops in and takes over. Well, tries to. The Doctor knew he was biding his time and swiftly ends his attempt at upstaging Salamander. Salamander gets captured, and The Master escapes, as always, to fight another day.
The wrap up is very nice and conventional, and slightly more low key than I was expecting, but the little insight at the end is the real thing to take away here. Salamander has made The Doctor realise he has started to become something he is not. He has grown so fond of Earth, of his friends, and of England in particular, he has neglected his duties as a Time Lord. He is a citizen of the universe, but has allowed himself a selfish indulgence of putting down some roots, of settling in one time and place. A very un-Time Lord thing to do, especially as his exile on Earth was initially a punishment after all. That must now change. Those last two pages of dialogue give a great insight into what made The Third Doctor tick.
Christopher Jones as always does a great job on the art chores, his visuals never overly flashy but always solid. He always captures the individual characters mannerisms and expressions really well too. He breathes the life into the characters that Paul Cornell has formed on the page. Fine work. We finish on a bang then, though perhaps not quite as loud and impressive a bang as I was expecting. A minor detail, though, as this series as a whole has been a blast. A return to a golden time for Who fans, done with great thought and affection.
For me, it has reaffirmed once more a love for ‘my’ Doctor Who. For five issues, he reversed the polarity once more.