Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Scott & David Tipton
Artist: David Messina, Elena Casagrande, Matthew Dow Smith & Kelly Yates
Release Date: 18th December 2013
This is the final trade from the Prisoners of Time series which was written leading up to the 50th of anniversary and focuses on the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctors so straight away is of appeal to those post 2005 series Whovians, Not mainly but I will get that.
The first chapter in this trade starts off nicely with Rose and 9th sharing the kind of familial banter you would expect them to. It was nice to see this not only since it has been so long but because that time was so brief on screen. But as the previous issues leading up to this had shown someone was grabbing the Doctors companions throughout time and this chapter gave that reveal of the scheming kidnapper. It had to be this chapter as it was someone tied to the 9th Doctors series, I won’t say who but of all the characters you would have guest from the Doctors past to seek revenge this character is that tertiary you almost wouldn’t expect it and that is why it works rather than the Cybermen or Dalek for the 100th time.
The chapter that follows features the 10th Doctor and Martha as they visit the Griffith Observatory in the 50’s, Where the Doctor shows Martha the planet Galifrey in the night sky… I had problems with that, Mainly since central to the show since it’s reintroduction is the “Time Lock” where the last great time war essentially seals Galifrey from existence. This contradicts that since it can be seen and therefore exists just in the 50’s which undermines the mechanics of the “Time lock” as ambiguous as they are from the show. However this chapter was reasonably fun featuring the Doctor and Martha having a 50’s set adventure and incorporated some villains from the Doctors past yet furthered along the story of our revealed villain snatching Martha. The 10th Doctor realizing that it is someone from his past who is snatching the companions relative to each Doctor’s time periods in one go, sends out a call for help from the only person he knows can help him.
The penultimate chapter features our current onscreen incarnation as the 11th Doctor as he is billed. There is no time for adventure with him and Clara is she is snatched immediately. This chapter is all about getting to that ending and we see the Doctor doing some temporal sleuthing trying to track his lost companions before finally meeting the before mentioned kidnapper, Who then turns out to be playing second fiddle to his master as the issue ended. This swerve felt to me how I imagine that scene in The Dark Knight Rises when Bane is just sidestepped as the mastermind must get to people who dislike that movie.
Now the final chapter and conclusion to the year long series. There is no way of getting around this without flat out telling you but you know that scene in the 50th anniversary show where all the Doctors are together at the very end in the dream… THAT and across a 2 page spread! Hey it isn’t an anniversary without the Doctors meeting up and whilst it is something so awesome to see because it will never happen at times the dialogue and story get very cliched. Catchphrases are thrown around left right and center and this is in the middle of a fight as the real mastermind and his vengeful henchman release Autons as all the companions awaken. The fight is hard to follow at times but was oh so cool seeing older companions alongside modern ones. The conclusion is very satisfying and in a way highlights the companions role in the series more than the Doctor which was nice as The Doctor got his big 50th mega TV special, The companions save for the few who were in it didn’t and the series has at its heart always been about the role of the Doctor but also his companion.
The art throughout differs from issue to issue owed to different art teams on each issue. So to review each is hard though the powerful “money shots” so to speak really pack a punch but in the last issue I did find one or two panels unflattering as though maybe too much effort was put on photo references of the Doctors than say the action which gives odd jaunty looks here and there.
In conclusion this final leg of the Prisoners of Time has had it’s ups and downs. There is bags of stuff for new fans and yet bags of references to the old days of Who, Even incorporating a character from the 80’s comic strips. It was a hugely ambitious project on IDW’s part but at times the fan service feels like getting hit over the head with Ace’s baseball bat, Then there are the reasons why this and the canon can’t be married up. But as a love letter to the Doctor it achieves what it sets out to do and is overall a rewarding read and befitting of the Doctor’s 50th.