Patrick Troughton takes center stage in the second issue of Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, freshly on the stands this week. Can this installment improve upon the first? Well, it wouldn’t be difficult…
Warning, here be spoilers. And Voord.
We’re treated this month to the art of Lee Sullivan, one of the long term artists for Doctor Who Magazine. This is a vast improvement upon last month. The likenesses are spot on and the original characters are vivid and imaginative. Very impressive, given the sheer number of background characters in this issue.
The story itself is a trifle. We don’t learn anything more about the mysterious hooded man in the first issue. Last month, I said I was reminded of The Five Doctors. This month, I fear we’re in for Ground Zero, a story arc undertaken by Doctor Who Magazine in the 90s, where various companions were taken at the end of each story leading to an anticlimactic and canonical nightmare of a finale.
I’m still not certain what this series is trying to do. It’s as if the Tiptons have gone on Wikipedia and glanced at each era of Doctor Who to see what it’s about. Yet there are dedicated in jokes that only the most obsessive fans would catch *cough*. The details are right, but the broad strokes are wrong. While these touches to the past are amusing, I want to learn what the bigger picture is. There had better be forward motion next month.
Panel 1-These are three of the major TARDIS props used over the course of the series. From left to right: the current TARDIS (The Eleventh Hour onwards), the original (An Unearthly Child to The Seeds of Doom), and the bright blue 80s version (The Leisure Hive to Survival).
Panel 1-“Look at the size of that one” was a reoccurring joke between Frasier Hines and Patrick Troughton, with them managing to work it into several scripts.
Panel 1-The Babel Fish Emporium is a clear reference to former script editor Douglas Adams‘ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Yarvelling and Zolfian were, respectively, the creator and War Minister of the Daleks in the TV Century Dalek strips of the 1960s. Here, the Daleks were blue humanoids before radiation caused them to enter their metal casings. The Noble Arts is a tip of the hat to tenth Doctor companion Donna Noble. Cogley’s Books may be a reference to the Deep Space Nine episode Far Beyond the Stars, which mentioned a writer by the name of Samuel T. Cogley. Creatures spotted in the crowd include Slitheen or other Raxacoricofallapatorians (Aliens of London), a Voord (The Keys of Marinus) and a Sontaran (The Time Warrior).
Panel 4-Fezzes are cool.
Panel 1-Magister was an alias of the Master used in The Daemons. The Hath appeared The Doctor’s Daughter. The Space Pig, even though he wasn’t really from space, appeared in Aliens of London.
Jubilee Pizzas first appeared in Dalek. The pizza box prop found its way onto the Torchwood set and was a mainstay during that series. The name itself comes from the Big Finish audio play Jubilee, also written by Rob Shearman and containing several of the same character beats.
Panel 4-The original Las Cadenas was a restaurant owned by Oscar Bocherby in Saville, Spain. (The Two Doctors)
Panel 2- Every time the Voraxx are named, it appears to be in the same font as was used in the aforementioned Dalek strips.
Panel 3-The woman looks an awful lot like Dr. Girlfriend from The Venture Bros.
Panel 1-Belnap VII may be a reference to Nuel Belnap, a philosopher dealing in temporal logic.
Panel 2-The penny farthing with the peculiar awning was part of the closing titles sequence of the cult 60s drama The Prisoner. Penny farthings were a key symbol in the show and represented to creator Patrick McGoohan of progress.
Panel 6-The T-Mat was a teleportation system used on Earth during the mid-21st century. The Ice Warriors used it as a beach head during an attempted invasion of Earth. (The Seeds of Death)
Panel 1-The robots in the corner are colloquially known as White Robots. They attacked Jamie and Zoe while they were trapped in a void that lead to the Land of Fiction. (The Mind Robber) It is thought that they were manifestations of the companions’ fear of the Cybermen and in the audio Legend of the Cybermen, they are servants of the Cyber invasion force. This is their first appearance in the “real world”. The costumes of the original White Robots were recycled from an episode of the BBC series Out of the Unknown. Quatloos are the currency of the Gamesters of Triskelion in the Star Trek episode of the same name. Cubits are used in Battlestar Galactica. The Alterian Dollar is from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, though it has recently collapsed.
Panel 4- Jamie and the Doctor first ran into the Martians on Earth during the middle of a future ice age (The Ice Warriors). They, this time with Zoe in tow, came in to conflict with them again during the T-Mat crisis (The Seeds of Death). As the Doctor points out, it was the humans in the future that named them Ice Warriors, though the Martians themselves have used it in various times and places since.
Panel 1-There appears to be a Draconian in the right corner (Frontier in Space).
Panel 3-The green blobby thing with a single eye is an Alpha Centauri, a race of hermaphroditic hexapods (The Monster of Peladon).
Panel 4-The weird black teletubby is another Voord. According to the Grant Morrison comic The World Shapers, the Voord are the ancestors of the Cybermen. Perhaps coincidentally, the comic features an older Jamie after his travels with the Doctor.
The first issue of Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time hit stands this week. With so many offerings in different media being presented to us for the 50th Anniversary, how does IDW’s stack up?
Warning, here be spoilers. And Katy Manning.
The first thing that struck me was the similarity between this and The Five Doctors. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Five Doctors, but we are definitely getting the same set up here. A mysterious hooded enemy is observing the Doctor through multiple incarnations, throwing old adversaries at him. In The Five Doctors, the Doctor gets scooped off and away. Here, it is only the companions. Where they are being sent, we don’t know. If it turns out to be the Death Zone, I shall kick someone.
The more I ruminate on it, the less it feels like a William Hartnell story. While the characterization of the regulars is nice, the story itself feels more and more out of place. It is perfectly in keeping with the era that the Doctor meets a historical figure. Indeed, one of the original goals for the series was to educate and expand on famous events and people. This became less of a priority after the Daleks made such a splash, but it was still part of the series until Patrick Troughton‘s first season. Yet Huxley would have been a controversial choice for the sixties, still being a divisive figure. He would have been in living memory for some people and the show shied away from such things until the 1980s.
Also, as the following annotations note, the Doctor getting to the precise time and place he intended was completely unheard of. Oft times, the TARDIS crew had no idea where they landed and would have to figure it out over the course of the first ten minutes of the first episode. This was part of fun of the show. You never had a clue where they would wind up next.
Simon Fraser’s art is a mixed bag. In terms of storytelling, it is very well done. There are some great panels of the Doctor battling Zarbi that can’t be missed. But this is a comic that lives on likenesses. The Doctor himself is alright, but Ian and Barbara look nothing like William Russell and Jacqueline Hill, Vicki often looks far older than 16, and strangely Huxley is pretty good. Fraser has a knack for old men apparently.
Overall, I enjoyed it. I have always adored the Zarbi, so any excuse to see them again is very welcome. Quite where this is all going, I’ve no idea but we shall hopefully get some more clues next issue.
And now, a few things to notice about Issue #1.
Page 1, Panel 1 — While most images in this panel are too small to make out, of special notice is the upper right hand corner which features one of the infamous Katy Manning (who played companion Jo Grant) nude photos. Its inclusion here may be an indication that in the Who universe, Jo also took a nude photo with a Dalek. Jo met the Daleks in the episodes Day of the Daleks and Planet of the Daleks.
Page 2, Panel 2 — From top to bottom: The fourth Doctor and an unknown companion in Hollywood. Judging from the hairstyle, it’s probably Sarah. There is no recorded adventure with the fourth Doctor in Hollywood, but his first, second, fifth, sixth, eighth, tenth and eleventh incarnations have visited. This is the carving of the tenth Doctor and Donna as featured at the end of Fires of Pompeii. A photo of the TARDIS in Roald Dahl Plass taken during Boom Town. Roald Dahl Plass is also home to the Torchwood Hub.
Page 3, Panel 3 — From left to right. Row 1: Barbara Wright, an older Vicki Pallister, Captain Jack Harkness, the second Romana, Amy and Rory Pond-Williams, Micky Smith. Doctor Liz Shaw. Row 2: Dorothy “Ace” McShane, Rose Tyler, Adric, Frobisher (Doctor Who Magazine comic strip), Adam Mitchell (Dalek, The Long Game). Row 3: unknown (Possibly Charlotte Pollard from Big Finish audios), K-9, Matthew Finnegan (IDW comics)
Page 5, Panel 3-The sixth Doctor would meet a young Charles Darwin in Bloodtide. Darwin also gets name checked frequently in the seventh Doctor story Ghost Light,a sort of parable about evolution.
Page 6, Panel 3 — The first Doctor was almost completely incapable of getting the TARDIS where he intended to go. The running arc of the first season was his trying to get Ian and Barbara back to the 20th century. Just how they are in 1868 on the right day is something of a mystery. Let alone writing Huxley a letter that would get to him in a timely manner…
Page 8, Panel 2 — The first Doctor usually carried a tiny pen torch, but this larger model is new. The same prop torch would later be used as the first version of the sonic screwdriver. The flashlight was invented in Britain in 1899.
Page 9, Panel 4– The Zarbi seen here are different than those seen in The Web Planet. In that story, they are large bipedal ants with six limbs. Here they scuttle around on the ground and seem to have either six or eight legs depending on what panel they’re in.
Page 11, Panel 3 — Here the Doctor calls Ian “Chatterton”. This is an example of what is referred to in fan circles as a “Billy Fluff”. During most of the 60s, Doctor Who was shot on video almost as live. Tape was very expensive and there was very little editing. They would pretty much only stop if something went very, very wrong. If a line was fluffed, it was often left in. Hartnell had a tendency to fluff his lines, sometimes quite noticeably. How much of this was intentional to show how the Doctor was a befuddled old scientist, no one will ever know. But this did often show itself when the Doctor was referring to Ian. Of course in this comic, Ian’s last name has not been mentioned yet, so if you didn’t already know who Ian was, you might be confused.
Page 15, Panel 3 — The Isop-tope Device was created by the other native race to Vortis, the Menoptera, a race of giant butterfly men. At the end of The Web Planet, it was Barbara that threw the Device at the Animus, seemingly killing it.
From page 1, panel 1
Page 19, Panel 2 –The Light at the End is also the title of Big Finish’s forthcoming 50th anniversary Doctor Who audio featuring the fourth through eighth Doctors.
Page 20, Panel 4 –The Doctor shall encounter the Zarbi again in Twilight of the Gods and Return to the Web Planet. A Zarbi also made a cameo appearance in The Mind of Evil as a manifestation of one of the Doctor’s greatest fears! A seed of the Animus returns in Twilight of the Gods, trying to take over Vortis once more.
Page 23 — As mentioned in John Ainsworth’s essay, the 60’s Doctor Who comic strip was a sometimes bizarre sidestep from the show. For the sake of completeness, the Zarbi did appear in the comic and in the Doctor Who annuals released at the same time, but these are so confused in terms on continuity, these are usually ignored. For example, The Lost Ones features the Doctor traveling alone to Vortis before The Web Planet and includes a war between Atlanteans and the Menoptera.