Comic Review: Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #3

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #3
Written by Scott & David Tipton
Art by Mike Collins
Colors by Charlie Kirchof
Cover Artwork by Francesco Francavilla
IDW Publishing
Publication Date: March 20, 2013
Cover Price: $3.99

The 50th anniversary celebrations by IDW for Doctor Who resume in the third issue of Prisoners of Time – a series that is getting better with each issue, with this one focusing on Jon Pertwee‘s portrayal of the Third Doctor. Writers Scott and David Tipton have made yet a further chapter that tops the previous edition and I cannot emphasize enough how much I recommend this noteworthy series.

Each issue of Prisoners of Time focuses in on one incarnation of the Doctor, to close with a 12th issue in which all presumably join forces. The Doctor is plagued by the kidnapping of his companions from each of his major eras, from an unseen (or rather now, unknown) enemy. While this is the story arc, each chapter focuses on an adventure that beautifully represents that specific Doctor’s era with much respect and reverence.

For the Jon Pertwee Third Doctor issue, we find the Doctor back in his UNIT days in 1974. He comes with Sarah Jane Smith, one of the most memorable companions of all time; as the Doctor is also reunited with a former companion from the same era, Liz Shaw. Having been summoned to UNIT in an extraordinary emergency during a thundering deluge of rain, the Doctor finds Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart acting irrationally and ordering troop movements that make no sense whatsoever.

As the Doctor delves into the mystery, they learn that the Brigadier is infected with an alien parasitic host that is controlling his actions – and all a part of an alien invasion that aims to “aquaform” the planet to make it habitable. It’s a common reappearing story that has happened frequently in the 50 years of Doctor Who, but in this case, we have a new race that is like an aquatic version of Jabba the Hutt that uses those Star Trek mind bug worms that Khan adores”¦ and it fits Doctor Who REALLY well.

The writing of Scott and David Tipton is brilliant and remarkable in Prisoners of Time. I thought their writing of Patrick Troughton in issue #2 was great, but with Jon Pertwee in issue #3, it is very much in character – so much so, it is almost like watching a serial from those days when the showrunners were Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks; a UNFORGETTABLE era that saved the series, in fact. The speech and mannerisms are Pertwee through and through, complete with attitudes typical for the Doctor during the era, including his strong disdain for bureaucratic authority. His innovative nature, his skills with Venusian Aikido, and his cars Bessie and the Whomobile all make major appearances.

There are even a few environmental messages here and there, which was a quintessential component during the Pertwee/Letts/Dicks era of Doctor Who. There is a minor tip towards feminism and "women’s lib", which was a growing story element during the time as well; and a nuclear attribute to the story that fits the timeline really well.

President Richard Nixon makes a cameo in this issue as well, which connects to the Matt Smith Doctor Who adventures The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon – well, a little anyway.

The artwork in issue #3 matches the previous issue well. As with each of the issues, a new art lineup is brought in for the episode; and the accomplishments of chapter 3 are on par with that of issue 2. Mike Collins‘ artwork is absolutely superb, capturing the essence of the classic series as well as corresponding to the feel and aura of this comic series. The character likenesses are fantastic, with Jon Pertwee looking damn great; and Collins nails companion Liz Shaw completely – the first time I’ve ever seen her successfully rendered in comic book form. He also gives good Brig!

Charlie Kirchoff‘s colors match the art well also. Where the last issue had very strong colors in places, this issue really focuses on the connection between palette and mood. The gloomier scenes have drearier and darker colors, whereas moments involving the Doctor’s inventiveness, or in meeting the aliens are full of brighter colors. It’s a lovely marriage of talents between Collins and Kirchoff.

The only criticism I can gather together for this issue is that the resolution of the alien invasion story seems a little quick, rushed, and a tad unbelievable. There were elements of this that could have been played up big time in typical Doctor Who style, but this feels incredibly rushed, and I think the Tipton brothers missed an opportunity here. That aside, it’s more important in this issue that we finally see the figure who is behind the multi-era kidnapping in the overarching plot; though it is concealed and still an unknown, so there’s no spoilers here.

Doctor Who: Prisoners Of Time has quickly become the comic series NOT to miss in 2013. The three issues released so far are rising in quality – both in writing and art – as the story progresses. I am highly enjoying the tale so far, and I think not only Whovians will enjoy this, but general comic book fans will as well. It’s a delightful love letter to the history of Doctor Who, and I highly recommend grabbing these comics.

Overall Rating: 4½ out of 5

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