Happy birthday to Who!
No, as of this writing, the highly anticipated Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special is still a few days away from being broadcast. However, another great celebration of a half-century of traveling in the TARDIS came to its conclusion today as the final installment of the twelve-issue Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time comic book series was released. Published by IDW, written by Scott & David Tipton, and drawn by a line-up of amazing artists, Prisoners of Time features all eleven incarnations of the Doctor, numerous companions, multiple aliens & villains, and plenty of surprises. It’s been an exciting, enjoyable romp through the rich history of the series.
As I detailed in my post The Big Bad of Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time Revealed, the mastermind behind the scheme to attack the Doctor in all his incarnations was none other than Adam Mitchell, previously seen on the television episodes “Dalek” and “The Long Game.” After nursing a lifetime of bitterness & hatred towards the Doctor for abandoning him, Adam was finally able to assemble a cache of stolen alien technology and began abducting the Doctor’s companions from the time stream. Along the way, he allied himself with the Doctor’s diabolical arch-nemesis, the Master, who did everything in his power to further enflame Adam’s long-festering resentment towards the Doctor.
So at last we’ve come to the grand finale in issue #12. Now, as River Song likes to say, “Spoilers, sweetie!”
The Eleventh Doctor is a prisoner of Adam and the Master in their base in limbo. Adam is threatening to murder all of the Doctor’s companions, offering him the impossible, torturous choice of saving one, just one of them. In the grand tradition of Doctor Who cliffhangers, just when it seems that all is lost (and I have to admit, when I reached the end of the previous issue, I was really left wondering how the heck the Tiptons would resolve this) we are greeted to new arrivals, beautifully depicted by artist Kelly Yates (click to enlarge):
What follows is a fantastic finale as all of the Doctors and companions fight off Adam, the Master, and a horde of Autons. As they’ve done with the previous installments of the miniseries, Scott & David did a brilliant job scripting this, getting the dialogue & cadence of each version of the Doctor just right. Yates was pretty much dead-on with all the likenesses, and also did wonderful work pacing the story, finding room for literally dozens of characters without it ever seeming cluttered.
Along the way, the Tiptons did a great job at bringing Adam’s story arc to a close. In the previous issue, drawn by Matthew Dow Smith, the Doctor had futilely attempted to convince his one-time companion that, whatever the legitimacy of his feud, it was a terrible mistake to ally himself with the Master, who was “pure unbridled evil.”
Now, in #12, the Master seizes the opportunity presented by the Doctor’s combined TARDISes, sending a wave of chronal energy through them in an attempt to not only destroy all the regenerations of his enemy, but to wipe out reality itself, so he may rewrite existence as he wishes. And, for the first time, Adam is aghast. As twisted and vengeful as he has become, he simply cannot conceive of committing such a monstrously vast crime. The Master’s response shows just how utterly consumed by hatred, by the lust for power, he truly is. Scott & Dave’s dialogue for the renegade Time Lord is doubly emphasized by Yates’ artwork, which demonstrates his sheer, burning insanity. That bottom panel on page 11 is chilling.
In the end, the Doctors finally manage to appeal to Adam, and he turns against the Master, saving reality at the cost of his own life. When I got to page 19, and saw Adam laying there dying, surrounded by the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh Doctors and Rose Tyler, um, well, I have to admit that for a second I really thought I was going to shed a tear. Yeah, the story and artwork were just that moving.
As I said, there were so many brilliant artists who worked on Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time. Some of them have been intimately involved in illustrating the Doctor’s comic book adventures in the past. For others this was, I believe, their first time. And I really wish I had the space to post examples of all of their work on this series. But for the record, this is the list: Simon Fraser, Lee Sullivan, Mike Collins, Gary Erskine, Philip Bond, John Ridgway, Kev Hopgood, Roger Langridge, David Messina & Giorgia Sposito, Elena Casagrande, Matthew Dow Smith, and Kelly Yates. (I encourage everyone to click on the links and go to those artists’ websites to view their wonderful work.)
Literally toping things off were the dozen covers by Francesco Francavilla which assembled to form one amazing image. Here’s a picture of the complete illustration, courtesy of Scott Tipton, who posted it on Facebook a couple of days ago:
As the Ninth Doctor was fond of declaring, “Fantastic!” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Francavilla is without a doubt one of the most talented artists to come onto the comic book scene within the last decade.
By the way, for those who missed out on picking up Prisoners of Time, IDW is releasing a hardcover collection of the entire series next month. There you go, you have no excuse now.
In closing, I want to tip my hat to Scott & Dave, and their numerous artistic collaborators. You all helped to make the series’ fiftieth anniversary that much more special.