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REVISITING: Prisoners of Time

Full disclosure… Scott Tipton, who is, along with his brother David Tipton, the writer of Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, is a good friend of mine. I’m putting that out there, because I’d hate for folks to think I’m looking back on this book fondly because of our friendship. See, the thing is, and any comics creator will tell you this, one of the hardest parts about befriending your peers is when their work is not so much good as it is… the other thing. I met Scott back when he was writing Angel, a title I loved – and now that we’re buddies, I’m pleased to say that when I read Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, I’m reminded of why I enjoyed his writing enough to reach out in the first place. Scott and David write licensed comics that aren’t just fun for fans of that property, but are just plain good comics. I’ll get into why that’s important in a bit. First, the lowdown on the book itself.

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time is a 12-issue miniseries, with each of the first eleven issues focusing on the Doctors in chronological order, beginning with William Hartnell’s First Doctor and going all the way through Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor. The twelfth and final issue is a huge crossover with the incarnations of the Doctor, paying off the ongoing narrative built in the eleven preceding issues as well as paying tribute to fifty years of Doctor Who. It has been printed in beautiful oversized hardcover by original publisher IDW (which is the volume I own) and then re-released by Titan as a softcover omnibus when they acquired the license. Each issue is done by a different art team, with a list of creators including Simon Fraser, Lee Sullivan, Mike Collins, Gary Erskine, Philip Bond, John Ridgway, Kev Hopgood, Roger Landgridge, David Messina, Giorgia Sposito, Elena Casagrande, Kelly Yates, and IDW’s Doctor Who mainstay Matthew Dow Smith, in addition to many others.

Now, back to what worked best about this series. I mentioned that there is an ongoing narrative linking the issues, but the Tipton brothers don’t force the comic to lean heavily on that. It does build to something, yes, but each issue also tells its own story, taking advantage of each individual Doctor’s supporting cast. It feels very organic and new-reader-friendly, which was especially important for me, because, as I’ve said before in my writing, I’m very much a modernist – my Doctor Who began with the Russell T. Davies relaunch. I’ve seen and enjoyed some of the older Who, but I don’t connect with it in the same way that I have with the current incarnation. I do admit that the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctor stories are standouts – god, it’s fantastic to see Nine again – because I have a stronger emotional tie to those characters and that style of story, but Scott and David’s sense of characterization and plotting creates a consistency within this volume that much of the older content doesn’t have with the current incarnation in the live action stories.

This is especially a great book for a Doctor Who fan who, like me, is testing the waters of the older material. Each issue is a terrific introduction to the cast with great art and a compelling story, and it all builds to a hell of a twist that plays on the heartstrings in a way only Doctor Who can.

Also, check it out. That’s a double-page spread with every freakin’ Doctor standing next to each other, ready to crack into action… and that’s just cool.

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