Or – “An Ogron, A Sontaran And A Draconian Walk Into A Bar…”

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“…and the bartender says, ‘What is this, some kinda joke?'”  The downside of being an (essentially) immortal Time Lord is that you tend to gain lots and lots of enemies.  Now, the past has caught up the Tenth Doctor, and he’s been sentenced to life (lives?) in galactic prison, surrounded by the enemies of nearly a dozen lifetimes.  Forget surviving behind bars, at this rate, the Doc’ll be lucky if he makes it through the trip…

Doctor Who #4

WDW2.jpgritten by Tony Lee
Art by Matthew Dow Smith
Cover Art by Paul Grist

Previously, on Doctor Who:  Having travelled to Earth during the 1920’s (to help overcome yet another alien race’s plan to subjugate the human race) the renegade Time Lord known only as The Doctor has been taken into custody by the Shadow Proclamation, a mysterious body that oversees and adjudicates the various interactions of alien races, sort of like the U.N., only with rhino-headed stormtroopers.  Since the situation in which he meddled was a “static point” in the timestream, the Doctor has been put on trial for altering the history of the universe.  His defense goes badly, since he has literally hundreds of years of such activities behind him, and the last of the Gallifreyans is thrown in jail…  Well, technically thrown in the ship that will deliver him to jail, alongside an Ogron, a Draconian, (respectively, a bestial thug and a member of a reptilian race who were nearly manipulated into a war with Earth, both narrowly stopped by the Doctor in his third incarnation) and a Sontaran (the guys with potato heads, consummate warriors who have clashed with the Doctor in his Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth AND the current Tenth incarnations.)  Immediately upon seeing him, The Ogron grabs the Doctor and begins strangling him…

The Doctor is able to extricate himself from the attacking thug, only to find the monstrous Ogron reduced to tears.  The Draconian berates him for never considering the effects that his actions have (which is exactly why he’s being sent to prison, strangely enough) and explains that all of them are diplomats who have come to try and negotiate peace in the universe after the power vacuum left by the Time War.  The Doctor quickly puts it all together, that somehow the four of them have been set up, taken out of the way so that someone can manipulate the peace conference, and cobbles together a desperate plan.  I really like the fact that even the super-warlike Sontarans are willing to work for peace, if only to allow them to refocus on their ongoing battles with the Rutan empire.  Seeing these individuals who don’t quite fit the profile of their races gives a greater sense of culture and reality to the Doctor’s world, and Tony Lee is VERY knowledgeable about his Time Lord history.  With the Sontaran and Ogron running interference, the Doctor manages to escape from the cell only to find the crew evacuating, and the ship locked on a crash course with a nearby planet. 

Mr. Finch (a member of the sinister Krillitane race, who tried to kill the Doctor on Earth once) calls to check in on the progress of the murder mission, only to find that the Doctor’s merry band are trying to escape their fate.  Finch sends in a battle fleet to destroy the shuttle, and the Doctor takes evasive action (“Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops…  I have NO IDEA where that came from,” he says, quoting another pilot of note) only to find that the ship is no longer space-worthy after taking a pounding from the incoming battleships.  The Doctor is a bit nonplussed to see that his plan not to crash the ship into a planet has ended with him having to crash the ship into a planet, and worse, he’s left a trail that the aliens can follow to find and try to kill them again.  As the ship heads for planet-fall, he struggles with the controls, trying to control their pancake fall into the atmosphere.  “Come on, I can DO this.  I can fly an aerodynamically unsound blue box through an asteroid field!” he cries, bringing the ship in for a not-quite-entirely-lethal impact.   The Doctor slams into the controls, and his vision fades to black, leaving our prisoners stranded on a hostile desert planet…

David Tennant’s portrayal of the Doctor is (as with most everyone who has every taken on the role) a very personal sort of thing, delivered physically, vocally, and through facial expression, taking him from merry prankster to somber lonely god and back using only his face and his bearing.  It is to the credit of this book’s team that they manage to capture so much of the character successfully on paper.  Artist Matthew Dow Smith doesn’t have a heavily photo-realistic style, but still captures the essence of Tennant in every frame.  Tony Lee’s dialogue is a lot of fun throughout, especially the bits where the Judoon warriors stalk about, screaming “Resistance is futile” and all.  There’s a true love of the Whoniverse (a phrase which, now that I’ve written it, seems incredibly fatuous and smarmy) here, with logical progressions of theme throughout thirty years of Doctor Who programming.  It’s a nicely done story, the space battle as science-fiction staple, run through the prism of the veddy British show.  Improvisation is, after all, the Doctor’s calling card.  Doctor Who #4 earns a nicely-handled 4 out of 5 stars,  delivering an entertaining plot, some seriously clever bits, and lovely art, all without the benefit of so much as a sonic screwdriver…

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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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7 Comments

  1. Salieri
    October 20, 2009 at 9:58 am — Reply

    So a Nun, an Ostrich, and half a pound of Jellybeans in a bag walk into a bar, and the barman says “F You” and closes early.

  2. October 20, 2009 at 7:03 pm — Reply

    Just FYI, a few facts in your article are rather off:

    1) Ogrons were introduced in “Day of the Daleks”, a *third* Doctor story — the first Doctor never encountered them (at least not in a televised story)

    2) The Sontarans were introduced in the third Doctor’s final season, and while the Doctor recognizes the lone Sontaran in “The Time Warrior”, they had never been seen or mentioned before in the series (so were never encountered by the second Doctor)

    And as for the term “Whoniverse” I rather like it and have been using it since 1983 (when I first saw it used in Peter Haining’s “Doctor Who: A Celebration”)

    Cheers.

    • October 20, 2009 at 7:45 pm — Reply

      1) Ogrons were introduced in “Day of the Daleks”, a *third* Doctor story — the first Doctor never encountered them (at least not in a televised story)

      You are absolutely right… That one was my bad, based on the description of the Doctor as “a white-haired old man” in reference to the Ogron.

      2) The Sontarans were introduced in the third Doctor’s final season, and while the Doctor recognizes the lone Sontaran in “The Time Warrior”, they had never been seen or mentioned before in the series (so were never encountered by the second Doctor)

      You are absolutely wrong. :) The Sontarans were the foes in “The Two Doctors,” during which the Second and Sixth Doctors faced Sontarans (among others) to stop a plot to rule the blah blah blah fishcakes. The Second Doctor encountered them out of sequence, but did encounter them. :)

      • October 20, 2009 at 11:30 pm — Reply

        You are absolutely wrong. :) The Sontarans were the foes in “The Two Doctors,” during which the Second and Sixth Doctors faced Sontarans (among others) to stop a plot to rule the blah blah blah fishcakes. The Second Doctor encountered them out of sequence, but did encounter them. :)

        Ah, quite right — I was thinking in terms of when they were introduced in the series and not thinking about the out of sequence encounter in The Two Doctors. That’s what I get for writing the above with insufficient caffene. :)

        Mind you, there is a question as to whether the second Doctor remembers meeting them (see the Season 6b theory and also there is the drug the second Doctor was injected with in T2D which affected his memory). But that doesn’t change the point that I didn’t think of T2D. Timey-wimey and all that.

        That whole story would’ve caused fewer problems if Jon Pertwee had been the other Doctor in that story as was originally planned. Not that I’m complaining; it was great to see one last outing for Troughton and Frazer Hines.

        • October 21, 2009 at 12:09 pm — Reply

          Mind you, there is a question as to whether the second Doctor remembers meeting them (see the Season 6b theory and also there is the drug the second Doctor was injected with in T2D which affected his memory). But that doesn’t change the point that I didn’t think of T2D. Timey-wimey and all that.

          Mmm… Given the Second Doctor-related inconsistencies of both The Five Doctors and The Two Doctors, the Season 6B theory gains credence for me (not to mention that it’s an awesome retcon.) Now, if somebody could just help me figure out how the Second Doctor claimed to be 450 years old, the Fourth Doctor was stated to be 749 years old, the Sixth Doctor 900 years old, the Seventh 953 years old, the Eighth 1012, and the Ninth again 900 years old.

          (My main theory is that The Sixth Doctor inflated his age to #&$@ with people, the Seventh kept doing it to enhance his mystique, and the Eighth was addled by his regeneration into not rememberin that he started lying back when he looked like Commander Maxil… But it’s just not dramatical enough. :) )

  3. UltraMatt
    October 20, 2009 at 10:05 pm — Reply

    I’m more surprised the orgons even had a diplomat on hand…considering they aren’t all that smart…

    • October 21, 2009 at 12:11 pm — Reply

      I’m more surprised the orgons even had a diplomat on hand…considering they aren’t all that smart…

      I like that part, actually. You have to figure that even the Vogons have the occasional deep thinker pop up and try to be a florist or something… Makes the aliens seem like they have a culture, a spectrum of behavior, rather than being cookie-cutter villains all from the same mold…

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