Or – “I’m The Doctor, My Dear… Whether You Like It Or Not.”
There’s a very large problem when you’re telling stories about a time traveller. It’s not always easy to tell what ORDER the tales go from the traveller’s perspective. Witness the quandary of Legion of Super-Heroes fans when their stories seem to imply that Braniac 5 joined the Legion before Superboy, which means that Supergirl (who joined at the same time as Brainy) actually joined the team earlier in their personal timeline than her cousin who joined in the team’s first (chronologica)l appearance. Also worth noting are these by necessity retroactive adventures of the Time Lord called the Doctor in his Tenth incarnation, being told only after the adventures of the Eleventh Doctor start to come to light. Still, if you’re not worried about continuity (or willing to crack the head of a patient cat against a concrete bathroom wall, to use a metaphor coined by a wiser man than I) these tales sometimes end up being your favorites…
Previously, on Doctor Who: At some point after the events of the television episode “Journey’s End,” (in which the Doctor has to leave Donna Noble behind on Earth with no memory of her time in the TARDIS to save her from total cellular annihilation) the Doctor, sans companions, lands on early-Twentieth century Earth in Hollywood, California where he meets a man who certain was NOT Charlie Chaplin. During said adventure, the Doctor acquired two companions, Matthew Finnegan and Emily Winter. After a brush with certain death, thanks to a rogue element within the legendary Shadow Proclamation, The Doctor, Matthew and Emily set out adventuring together. The Doctor worries about Emily, whose dreams of acting were smashed by aliens, but neglects to see that Matthew is being manipulated by the same woman who tried to get him killed, a woman called The Advocate. Now, The Doctor is once again on Earth (thanks to a summons by former companion Martha Jones) and faces an enemy called the Enochians, while the Advocate waits in the wings for her moment to finally crush the Doctor, once and for all.
“Have You Ever Thought What It’s Like To Be Wanderers In The Fourth Dimension?”
As last issue ended, the Enochians (who resemble clockwork angels) had broken free of their centuries-long imprisonment and taken to the skies. The opening sequence of this issue is neat, showing the BBC news reports of the events, and giving us the public perspective on yeat another crisis that no on understands. The aliens create an energy net over London, leaving the Doctor and UNIT trapped at the mercy of man-eating, mobile trees. You have to love Doctor Who, by the way, as anywhere else this confluence of events might seem odd. Tony Lee is a man who knows his Doctor, and the story beats here are well-done, as Martha and the UNIT agentsduck into a bunker, while the Doctor is captured and confronted by the Advocate’s shape-shifting majordomo. They exposition back and forth for a while, explaining all the things that happened behind the scenes of the first ten issues, and to Lee’s credit, it never feels overly talky or boggy to me. The blocking of the argument turns what might have been a talking heads sequence into something dynamic and neat, giving us a clear sense of location and the layout of the underground tunnels. In the underground bunker, Martha butts heads with Captain Magambo (from the episodes “Turn Left” and “Planet of Death”) of UNIT, just in time for the advocate to arrive. “Sounds like a time of crisis,” purrs the blue-skinned manipulator. “Always the best time for someone to come and save the day.”
“Logic Merely Enables One To Be Wrong With Authority!”
The Advocate uses her silver tongue (well, blue, but… it’s a euphemism, never mind) to talk Magambo into a military solution to their crisis, while the Doctor keeps her shapeshifter talking just long enough to convince another of her servants to cut the Doctor loose. There’s some fighty-fighty, and the appearance of the Knights Arboretum (“FOR THE GARDENERS!!” Heh…) allows the Doctor, Martha and Emily to regroup. The make their way to Magambo, but are first met by the Advocate, who explains her origins to the Doctor. (After being sent back in time in an earlier issue, she was basically driven bug$@&$ crazy by centuries of war and time-travel what-have-you. In short, the Advocate blames the Doctor for a situation that she herself created, which isn’t irony, but I don’t recall what it actually is.) Unfortunately for Number Ten, her stories have convinced Matthew of the Doctor’s perfidy, allowing Matthew to convince UNIT not to trust the Doctor. It’s a clever bit of manipulation by the evil alien, leading to the Doctor characteristically raging that, once again, the humans just want to blow up anything they don’t understand. Magambo doesn’t take the challenge of her leadership well, and orders her men to take the Galligreyan into custody. “We have a solution,” the Captain says, “and the projected cost of LIFE is acceptable.” Her men drag the Doctor away as we fade to black…
“I’ll Tell You What It Will Be… The Trip Of A Lifetime!”
I’m a big fan of what Tony Lee and his collaborators have been able to create with this book, a small portion of the DW universe that is perfectly acceptible with what we know and what we’ve seen, capturing the voice and essence of the Tenth Doctor’s adventures in the problematic comic format. (Remember, the first comic adventures had the First Doctor adventuring with a magic bag and imaginary grandkids…) These stories expand what we know about Number Ten while foreshadowing the things that have to happen to him later. It’s unclear where they take place, but the nods to continuity (Martha’s husband is referred to here, as well as lost companion Adric, and dozens of other little touches) give us enough touchstones to work with. If you know Doctor Who the way I like to think I do, there are bits of information that you’ll glean, but none of them is obtrusive to those who just want a rollicking adventure story with a wicked twist. Knowing that this Doctor is on his last legs (IDW has announced that their final Tenth Doctor story will begin in July of this year) makes the story that much more entertaining for me, as I’ve always loved the lost adventures of previous incarnations. There’s something very fun and pleasantly cartoony about Blair Shedd’s art in this issue. It’s never a photo-realistic version of David Tennant, but it’s clearly the Tenth Doc in every panel, and the layouts tell a good story. (A panel wherein the Doctor is poleaxed at the mention of Adric pulls way back to illustrate the character’s isolation, for instance, a wonderful use of the comic panel and form.) Doctor Who #11 does what a Doctor Who story should do, drawing you into a hopeless situation so that the funny Englishman can pull us back from the edge of destruction and earns 4.5 out of 5 stars in so doing. One of my coworkers, an avid Doctor Who fan, is incredibly jealous that he can’t just WATCH these adventures when I describe them to him, so they’re obviously doing SOMETHING right…
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Week: Does it bother you when the continuity of adaptations of television/movies aren’t quite up to speed with the latest episodes of the show?