Or – “No Second Chances. I’m That Sort Of A Man.”

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“Hey, I’m the Doctor, I can save the universe using a kettle and some string. And look at me, I’m wearing a vegetable. ”

DW1.jpgPreviously, on Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child.  The Dalek Invasion of Earth.  Day of Armageddon.  The Tenth Planet.  The Power of The Daleks.  The Tomb of The Cybermen.  The War Games.  Spearhead From Space.  Terror of The Autons.  Day of The Daleks.  The Three Doctors.  The Monster of Peladon.  The Sontaran Experiment.  The Brain of Morbius.  The Talons of Weng-Chiang.  The Invasion of Time.  The Armageddon Factor.  City of Death.  The Keeper of Traken.  Earthshock.  Arc of Infinity.  The Five Doctors.  The Caves of Androzani.  Revelation of The Daleks.  Terror of The Vervoids.  Time and The Rani.  Remembrance of The Daleks.   The Curse of Fenric.  The Curse of Fatal Death.  Enemy Within.  Bad Wolf.  Attack of The Graske.  Army of Ghosts.  The Runaway Bride.  The Sound of Drums.  Time Crash.  Planet of The Ood.  Music of The Spheres.  Planet of The Dead.  And now…

We begin where (chronologically, from the television show’s perspective) the Doctor ended up after Season 30, (or possibly Season 4, depending on how one counts) alone in the TARDIS at liberty in the universe.  The Doctor attempts to commune with his own inner nature, resolving for once to be alone, and sits in a corner meditating.  He fails utterly at this, and eventually is excited to hear the sound of a distress signal from his command console.  Following the beacon, he lands on a distant space station.  “Now, then,” says the Doctor excitedly, “Coat, open the door, answer the distress call…”  Stepping out, he is met by an armed retinue of aliens with bad intentions.  “…aaaand hit the usual welcoming committee.”  They quickly put him in isolation before realizing that the Doctor is not only healthy, but completely so, with no infection or disease whatsoever.  Identifying that there is a plague, the Doctor is told that he is on the Great Refuge, one of the only places free of the disease.  He makes a joke about being arrested for murder, and one of the officials immediately asks, “You know about the murder?”  (One might make a remark about “teaching him to make jokes,” but this IS The Doctor after all…)  The Doctor is shown around, and is given an explanation of the horrible virus that is borne not by air or food, but but contact, even electronic contact or broadcast.  “A communicative disease,” realizes the Time Lord before offering his help.

The Doctor is led to a room with the killer, an alien whose temporal signature is inverse of that of the regular universe.  In short, they live backwards.  They KNOW that the man is the killer, but nobody can figure out WHY, as the translators they use only work on forward time.  “Goodbye, Doctor, old friend,” greets the killer as our hero enters the room, and even the Doctor is a bit put off.  The Doctor remarks that talking to this person is impossible, and the aliens are crestfallen to think that he’s giving up.  “Oh, I can do it,” says the Doctor brightly, “I just wanted you to know how DIFFICULT it’s going to be.”  Heh…  A quick time trip forward, and the Doctor meets himself, returning from the future, and borrows his own future TARDIS.  Things get very odd as The Doctor travels back and forward along his own timeline, at one point working alongside three of himself to stabilize the communication with the alien.  Alien and Time Lord interact, but things aren’t going so well.  Eventually, The Doctor identifies an important bit of information:  The alien’s first memory of his life is being “born” a day or so ago, at the hands of the alien jailers…  “You could no more change the details of my birth than I could change the blood mark on your forehead,” cries the alien, and the Doctor replies beforehand that his forehead is clean.  “It is NOW,” says the alien some seconds before that.  The Doctor exits the room, explaining that the scene was NOT a murder, but in fact the saving of a life, only in reverse, somehow.   The condemned man requests a day to spend with his family, and they all gather for a day of great happiness, the day that their clanmate is “born.”  The alien is executed, and his blood splashes the Doctor’s head.  “Your name is TX,” says the Time Lord, “I am the Doctor.”  He excuses himself, meeting one of his temporal alternates in so doing, and seeing what it was that the alien meant.  The Doctor shakes off his ennui, realizing that he has been part of the birth of a remarkable creature, and heads off into the universe with a chipper, “Allons-y!”

Many people only know Rich Johnston from his work as an online gossip columnist, but he really shows his fiction writing chops here, catching the distinctive voice of David Tennant’s 10th Doctor and delivering a really hard to create backwards conversation that takes up the center of the book.  The plot is such that you actually have to read certain pages again backwards in order for it to become clear, and it’s a clever little bit of plotting.  The art, by Eric J. gives us a really expressive Doctor, and some interesting alien designs, with a nice thick art line and some crisp linework throughout.  Structurally, mechanically, the issue is fascinating, and the story (while very simple) is very ‘Doctor Who’ in it’s tone and execution.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this issue, wondering if it might be a celebrity-written trainwreck, but it pulls it’s own weight as a comic, as a story, and as a one-shot worth the cover price.  I am a Doctor Who fan, and we can be a hard to impress lot, but Doctor Who – Room With A Deja View #1 earns 4 out of 5 stars (or is that 5 out of 4?) and makes for an interesting read both forwards and backwards.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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1 Comment

  1. August 6, 2009 at 9:56 am — Reply

    Heh, nice call out to The Curse of Fatal Death. Most people don’t remember/know about that little gem.

    It was interesting seeing how the middle of the book was laid out. I wasn’t expecting it to turn out that well, but in the end it made since both the how they did it, and what was going on.

    It was a little unsettling though how the ‘creation’ of the Great Refuge was mentioned…. then completely forgotten about before the end of the book. Loose threads and all.

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