The ghosts of the past have returned to haunt The Third Doctor, and one of them wears a very familiar face… Your Major Spoilers review of Doctor Who: The Third Doctor #5 awaits!
DOCTOR WHO: THE THIRD DOCTOR #5
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Christopher Jones
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Editor: John Freeman
Publisher: Titan Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Doctor Who: The Third Doctor: “The Third Doctor’s Earth-bound exile has been lifted. But before he can set out on new adventures, an alien invasion appears to threaten Earth! It’s the devious work of an old enemy, Salamander, a former dictator with a startling resemblance to the Second Doctor! Now, forming and uneasy alliance with The Master, The Doctor and UNIT set out to stop him – but are they too late to stop his plans as he takes them all back into the past?
A WONDERFUL BIT OF META-BRILLIANCE
For many years after they left the role of The Doctor, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee play-acted an ongoing feud, taking the prickly relationship of their characters (in their two crossover appearances, mind you) with them to conventions and public appearances, even though they were reportedly good friends in real life. That makes this issue’s central struggle between The Third Doctor and Salamander (The Second Doctor’s doppelgänger from ‘The Enemy Of The World’) even more interesting, at least to me. Having successfully pulled Three and the forces of UNIT back to 1868, Salamander and his nanobots (referred to as “micro-machines” throughout the issue, because it is 1973, after all) make their way to Parliament, where he makes his play to take over the British Empire. The Doctor, for his part, has a few micro-machines still in his system, convincing the robots to turn on Salamander and reject his control. And then, the scorpion int their midst reminds him of its sting, as The Master takes command of the robots himself and prepares to rule the world in Salamander’s stead…
TRULY EXCELLENT ART
This is a breathtaking issue, visually, with Christopher Jones’ lovely renderings combining classic comic book images like Salamander’s body armor and giant robot tentacles with nearly photo-realistic takes on the cast of 70s Who, including a perfect Roger Delgado as The Master. This issue is also full of lovely character bits and moments, such as Jo and Mike Yates promising to have a long talk soon, the responses of 19th Century Britons to The Doctor and his future folk and dueling narcissists in The Master and Salamander. I don’t think it’s a big surprise to let on that they both escape, which means that any hypothetical sequels to this miniseries are already set up. Of course, one sequel has already been written, in that this takes place right before The Doctor and Jo take off on their adventures through space after having been grounded for all of Three’s lifetime, a moment that is also referenced in this issue with a wonderful dialogue between Jo and The Doctor, ending with the possibility of more Third Doctor comic adventures.
THE BOTTOM LINE: THAT’S HOW YOU WRAP UP A STORY
This issue is interesting in that it applies a modern sensibility to the 1970s Doctor Who stories and does so in comic-book format, which means that there’s no effects budget to worry about, Even so, it’s successful as a single issue, as a final chapter of the story, and most of all as a Third Doctor adventure, leaving Doctor Who: The Third Doctor #5 with a near-perfect 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. Just the idea of Pertwee and Troughton sparring makes this issue worth buying for this old-school Whovian…