Over the last nine months I have really been enjoying IDW’s year-long Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time miniseries written by Scott & David Tipton, and illustrated by a very impressive line-up of artists. In each issue, a different incarnation of the wandering Time Lord has been spotlighted. And at the end of every installment, a mysterious cloaked figure bearing an unspecified grudge against the Doctor has appeared out of nowhere, altering the time stream by kidnapping the Doctor’s companions. For the first several issues, I really had no idea who the heck this enigmatic foe could be. And then issue #s 7 and 8 came out, featuring artwork by Kev Hopgood and Roger Langridge. In these two issues, the Tiptons offered up a pair of very important clues.
In #7 the Seventh Doctor and Ace encounter the Master who, as per his usual 1980s shenanigans, was hiding behind a very transparent & pointless disguise. Once unmasked, the Master tells the Doctor that “I’ve been working with a new partner. He’s an old friend of yours. Or should I say… companion?” The Doctor responds that he has no idea what the Master is talking about, which causes his old foe to tauntingly add “Of course not, because you haven’t met him… yet!”
Then in #8, after the Eighth Doctor and Grace Holloway have finished an adventure liberating an alien world from its oppressors, our mystery man once again pops up. In answer to the Doctor demanding to know who he is, the cloaked figure states “I’m your mistakes come to life, Doctor. I’m your past come home to roost.”
Having read these two sequences, it suddenly occurred to me: what if this mystery villain was Adam Mitchell, the Doctor’s very short-lived companion who was seen in the episodes “Dalek” and “The Long Game,” now much older, and still majorly pissed off that the Ninth Doctor & Rose had left him with all of that alien technology from the far future installed in his head? It would explain why Adam was among the numerous companions who artist Simon Frasier drew on the display screens back in issue #1, even though the character had barely traveled with the Doctor. Adam could have been included there as a subtle reminder to readers that the character was still out there.
So this week Prisoners of Time #9 came out, illustrated by David Messina & Giorgia Sposito. The Ninth Doctor and Rose have (as is par per the course) just narrowly escaped an explosive death on an alien world. However, before they can make their way back to the TARDIS, they find someone waiting for them, someone who is very familiar to the both of them.
Yes, it is Adam Mitchell, now old and embittered, seeking vengeance against the Doctor in his numerous incarnations. (As soon as I read this page, I actually said aloud “I knew it. I knew it!” This was on the M Train, during rush hour. I have no shame.) And, you know, the way Scott & David Tipton have Adam lay out his motivations in this issue, it is very easy to see that, from his viewpoint, his grievances and resentments against the Doctor actually seem very reasonable and legitimate.
The thing to remember about the Doctor is that, yes, he is brave and heroic and brilliant and he travels the universe saving entire worlds from tyranny and injustice. That said, throughout his numerous regenerations, the Doctor has often demonstrated that he can also be very arrogant, egotistical, headstrong, and rash, with little to no consideration for the long-term consequences of his actions. There have been a number of television stories that have addressed what happens when he doesn’t think things through. “The Daleks,” “Planet of the Spiders,” “The Face of Evil,” “Bad Wolf,” “The Sound of Drums” and “The Waters of Mars” all show just how incredibly bad a situation can turn out when the Doctor screws things up.
And, from the moment that the Doctor condescendingly kicked Adam out of the TARDIS at the end of “The Long Game,” I could not help thinking to myself that eventually this could come back to bite the Time Lord in the rear end. Yes, Adam made a huge mistake, deciding to get alien tech installed in his head & then use it to send information from 198,000 years in the future back in time to the present day in an impulsive scheme to get rich quick. But the Doctor handled the situation really poorly, leaving all that ultra-advanced technology in Adam’s head, believing this would teach him a lesson and forcing him to lead a low-profile existence. Even if Adam was selfish and foolish in his actions, the Doctor’s punishment seemed unnecessarily cruel. I also immediately saw how spectacularly wrong this could turn out. What if some group of alien invaders or the Torchwood Institute or someone else did stumble across Adam and plundered the futuristic secrets in his skull?
Scott & David Tipton obviously were thinking along similar lines, having Adam Mitchell turn out to be the Big Bad of Prisoners of Time. And, now that he’s been revealed, I’m certainly looking forward to the concluding three issues of this series.
In any case, Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time is a fantastic series which I highly recommend. If you want to get caught up to speed, the first eight issues have been collected into two trade paperbacks, topped off with really cool covers by Francesco Francavilla, the super-talented illustrator who has been providing the cover artwork for this series.
By the way, a few weeks ago I e-mailed Scott via Facebook with my guess about Adam, which he coyly commented was “a cool theory.” After I read Prisoners of Time #9 on Wednesday, I contacted him again, and he informed me I was the only person to have guessed successfully. That’s definitely gratifying. Hmmm, I can’t manage to balance my checkbook or remember where I put my tax returns from last year, but I can solve the mystery of a Doctor Who villain. Go figure!