“Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #3”

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(w) Scott and David Tipton
(a) Mike Collins
IDW Publishing

As this mini-series is dependent upon the history of the television show and comics, I hope my taking a moment to provide a little bit of context can be helpful. The third Doctor was grounded on earth for the bulk of his tenure, and instead of exploring the universe he was primarily relegated to helping a British agency known as U.N.I.T (Unified Intelligence Task Force) in defeating the baddies that popped up. The third Doctor is also remarkable for two things: one, on TV he was newly in glorious color, and two, he became a much more pro active, engaging character willing to get his hands in the fray more often. Everything about him was bigger, brasher, more vivid—from his clothing to his methods, from his companions to his beloved car. This issue utilizes both of those things in a pleasant, engaging way.

This go around The Doctor is faced with a water based parasite known as the Remoraxian as a foe. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Waters of Mars good bye-stravaganza that the 10th Doctor (David Tenant) faced, but the twist here is different and much more tongue and cheek. I actually was page counting towards the end, as I was sure there was no way a resolution would be presented in time for a one-and-done, but the Tipton’s play a great card in the end, and while some may want to call shenanigans I for one laughed and felt it fit the attempt to distill the tone of this incarnation into one issue (something that will be very difficult for the fourth Doctor, but we shall see). Plus I give the Tipton’s credit for introducing two companions (Liz and the irreplaceable Sarah Jane), Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and utilizing them all so they remain true to character—heroic,curious, helpful. The shining star of this issue, however, is the pencil work of Mike Collins and color work of Charlie Kirchof.

Mike Collins work I am unfamiliar with, but I want to play catch-up and soon, and this issue is as good a selling point as any. Collins conveys movement, action, and the up tempo pace of the story to fit the feel of the third Doctor, again, an incarnation that was more about movement and getting into things. While he is using real actors to base the primary characters upon, I enjoyed his other designs he was freed up on, namely that of the Jabba-esque squid blob that is a Remoraxian Prime. Also one should take note of  his rendering of weather elements and his shuffling of panels playing with negative space and backgrounds. In this issue there is a level of professional comic book art on display that reminds me of some of the ’80s Marvel and DC work I first came up on. And just as color was a huge part of the television show for this era, colorist Charlie Kirchof embraces that idea by making this issue snap and crackle even in the darker shades of night and indoor spaces that the story takes place within.

This adventure is satisfying, and I think if folks have been along for the ride so far it will feel comfortable. The point of this series is a celebration, and while everything is tied into a larger mystery with a big bad pulling the strings and snatching companions, I have found pleasure in this as hat-tipping comfort food that invites all aboard if you want to dive into a large universe. Trust me: once The Doctor gets his hooks in you, it is hard to not investigate all his incarnations at least once.