Title: Doctor Who: Prisoners Of Time
Writers: Scott and David Tipton
Cover(s): Francesco Francavilla (floppies and trade paperbacks) and Dave Sim (Hardcover)
Variant Covers (individual floppies): Simon Fraser, Lee Sullivan, Mike Collins, Gary Erskine, Dave Sim, and Robert Hack, (also photo covers)
Art (varies by Issue/Chapter):
Chapter 1: Art by Simon Fraser, Colors by Gary Cladwell
Chapter 2: Art by Lee Sullivan, Colors by Phil Elliott
Chapter 3: Art by Mike Collins, Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Chapter 4: Art by Gary Erskine with thanks to Mike Collins, Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Chapter 5: Art by Phillip Bond, Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Chapter 6: Art by John Ridgway, Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Chapter 7: Art by Kev Hopgood, Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Chapter 8: Art by Roger Langridge, Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Chapter 9: Art by David Messina, Inks by Giorgia Sposito, Colors by ScarletGothica
Chapter 10: Art by Elena Casagrande, Colors by Arianna Florean, Color Assists by Azzura M. Florean
Chapter 11: Art by Matthew Dow Smith, Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Chapter 12: Art by Kelly Yates, Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Published by IDW Publishing
Reviewed by Grim_Noir
Fresh horses. The Doctor Who television franchise needs “fresh horses” in the Writers’ Room. I would like to suggest comic book scribes Scott and David Tipton.
Back in the days when the Pony Express was helping to open up the American West (by delivering mail on a reliable basis), the Pony Express service would maintain a series of waystations. These checkpoints would always have watered and rested horses available. A rider sensed when he had pushed his steed near exhaustion and when he stopped at the next Pony Express station, he would swap out his ride for a “fresh” horse, to keep the U.S. Mail moving westward. That’s where the term, “needing fresh horses” came from.
It is also where the term “beating a dead horse” came from. TV showrunner, Stephen Moffat, isn’t beating a dead horse just yet, but (if Whovians are honest with themselves) Doctor Who is no longer the charging stallion it once was.
IDW Publishing lost its lease for the Doctor Who comics rights here in America to Titan, so for all of 2013 (the Doctor’s 50th anniversary year) they decided to go out with a bang. And what a BANG it is: The over-arching framework plot of Doctor Who: Prisoners Of Time is that an unknown enemy is secretly ambushing every incarnation of the Time Lord and kidnapping his companions. Someone, from somewhere outside of Time and Space, is preying on the Doctor’s two greatest fears: Getting a companion killed and/or being alone for all eternity.
This 12-issue maxi-series plays out exactly like a season of the BBC’s television series. The greatest season that sadly never was. Each issue/chapter is a stand alone adventure with one of the Doctor’s incarnations that simultaneously adds a piece to the on-going mystery. For long-term Doctor Who fans, every chapter is like catching up with dear, old friends. But Anglophiles that came aboard with the reboot need not fear: All the technology and mythology necessary to enjoy the overall plot are firmly rooted in the newer Doctors.
Writers Scott and David Tipton appear to be HUGE Doctor Who fans, as they unabashedly wear their love for Doctor Who on their ink-soaked sleeves: Their plot is packed to the brim with in-jokes, Easter Eggs and sly callbacks to what has come before. Even the reveal of who is gunning for the Doctor is a study in reaping what he has unintentionally sown in the television series. His self-rightiousness proves a two-edged sword and his comeuppance is a tragic thing indeed for the Doctor.
The artwork for this series is where things get truly tragic for the reader. IDW’s idea was to celebrate the Doctor with twelve amazing artists giving different looks and feels to all of his reincarnations. Unfortunately, they only got four amazing artists, four journeyman, and four guys who even Dynamite Entertainment wouldn’t hire. Simon Fraser starts things off in a business-like fashion and Lee Sullivan’s second chapter (Patrick Troughton’s Doctor) is one of those wonderful things where repeated viewings are rewarded. Chapter Three shows Mike Collins capturing the Jon Pertwee ’60s in a swinging and psychodelic Jim-Steranko-esque style. Sadly, by the time we reach Paul McGann’s Millennial Doctor, Roger Langridge has the Doctor looking like he stepped into Charles Schultz’ Peanuts. The one I feel most sorry for is Kelly Yates, who struggles in the last chapter to pull all the art styles that have come before into one coherent final assault on the baddies by all eleven Doctors.
Despite these flaws, as a Whovian who has met Tom Baker, watched the “Five Doctors” 20th anniversary episode first-run on PBS, and saw the “Three Doctors” 10th anniversary special on videotape, I say THIS is the 50th anniversary special that we had been hoping for. If you mentally slot this story in-between the TV episode “The Day Of The Doctor” and “The Time Of The Doctor” Christmas Special, you will have the 50th anniversary Doctor Who season that, in your heart-of-hearts, you had been secretly hoping to get.
Which brings me back to fresh horses. Before Peter Capaldi steps into the TARDIS later this year, check out this maxi-series, either as three trade paperbacks, or the deluxe hardcover, or hunt down all twelve floppies. But when you’re done reading, ask yourself the simple question that I had: Is Moffat really doing justice to Doctor Who in the same way he was in previous years? Or, maybe, just maybe, is it time to leave him at a quiet watering hole and let The Tiptons ride into the future carrying the Doctor…?
* GRIM_NOIR is convinced that he exists outside of Space and Time. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or Friend on Facebook to end his self-delusions.
Tags: Arianna Florean, Azzura M. Florean, Charlie Kirchoff, Dave Sim, David Messina, Doctor Who, Elena Casagrande, Francesco Francavilla, Gary Cladwell, Gary Erskine, Giorgia Sposito, Grim_Noir, IDW, Jim Steranko, John Ridgway, Jon Pertwee, Kelly Yates, Kev Hopgood, Lee Sullivan, Matthew Dow Smith, Mike Collins, Patrick Troughton, Paul McGann, Peter Capaldi, Phil Elliott, Phillip Bond, Pony Express, Prisoners Of Time, Robert Hack, Roger Langridge, ScarletGothica, Scott and David Tipton, Simon Fraser, Stephen Moffatt, TARDIS, The Day Of The Doctor, The Five Doctors, The Name Of The Doctor, The Three Doctors, The Time Of The Doctor, Time Lord, Tom B. Long, Tom Baker