Titan Comics’ Doctor Who series has seen the return of all of the recent Doctors since the TV series reboot, as well as the little seen eighth Doctor. Now, the third incarnation of the titular timelord is getting his own series. Set after his exile to earth has been lifted, with a fully functional TARDIS time machine, this series brings back some Who favorites to help the Doctor once again save the earth. Is it good?
Doctor Who: The Third Doctor #1 (Titan Comics)
The third Doctor’s run was a bit of a change of pace for the original series. Due to budget constraints (the move to color from black and white being one) the third Doctor left his planet and time jumping adventures behind, with most of his adventures being set on Earth. He was a more aristocratic version of the Doctor, referred to as “Dandy” by the first Doctor and “Fancypants” by the second, who spent most of his episodes working for the government’s UNIT task force as a science advisor. He drove a jalopy named “Bessie” and had a hovercraft called the “Whomobile”, and unlike the first incarnations of the Doctor and the later ones, he wouldn’t shy away from punching a villain in the face or giving a nice judo chop.
With such a departure from the rest of the Doctors in the universe, especially for viewers who came to the series after its reboot in 2005, this version may be overlooked or seen as a product of the times and not given the credit he was due. But don’t forget, the third Doctor’s run is the first time series icons like “The Master”, “Omega” and companion Sarah Jane are introduced. Thankfully during the later part of the show, the Doctor’s exile is lifted and he regains his use of the TARDIS.
Writer Paul Cornell wisely sets the story for issue one after this exile, with companion Jo Grant at his side. Cornell captures the spirit of Jon Pertwee (the actor who played the third Doctor) well. His authoritarian nature and chastising of the Brigadier, whom he always had a slightly antagonistic relationship with in the show, is on display as he chastises the officer for looking to military force as the answer to a solution instead of first trying diplomacy. Cornell makes sure to include details like a drive in “Bessie” and an encounter with UNIT Sergeant “Osgood” who is the presumed father of a later Who character.
The story has an alien invasion, naturally, and UNIT calls the Doctor to help. Not much is resolved in the first issue as it is still setting up the arc of a larger plot and reintroducing the third Doctor to a new audience, as well as his companions. Enough tidbits are seen to hint at the bigger picture, as well as an unexpected guest arriving in the last panel, to keep me curious for what direction Cornell takes the story.
The art by Christopher Jones is spot on in capturing the time period and makes it feel like an episode of the third Doctor’s show. He does a fine job with Jon Pertwee’s caricature, when he’s the focus of the panel, though there were a few times in action scenes or as a background character the Doctor’s expression looked more wide-eyed and manic to the point of being comical. Overall the art was decent, though the cover, with an almost photo-realistic portrait of the third Doctor, was really great.
Is It Good?
It was about what you would expect from a first issue of Doctor Who–lots of setup and references from the series, and hinting at bigger things with a cameo from the “Master” at the beginning of the book. It’s likely the problems for the Doctor are going to get much worse before the series concludes. How the plot continues from this point will tell whether it is a fitting tribute to Jon Pertwee’s character or just a chance for a few fans to revisit an old favorite.