Written by Scott Tipton and David Tipton
Art by Gary Erskine
Release Date: April 17, 2013

DoctorWhoPOT4cover1. Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, is a twelve issue miniseries from IDW in which each issue centers on one of the eleven incarnations of The Doctor along with one or more of that Doctor’s companions. (You’ll note that this leaves an extra issue. This is perfectly fitting. Space, time, and arithmetic are fuzzy things in the Doctor’s world. Timey-wimey, wibbily-wobbily.)

2. All you really need to know to jump in is that a shadowy figure is kidnapping the Doctor’s companions for unknown, nefarious reasons.

3. In fact, you don’t really need to even know that, since each issue functions perfectly well as a standalone, with the kidnappings normally taking place at the end of each issue, and not really relating to the action or plot at hand. The shadowy figure is really a loose thread tying each of the Doctors together, but, rightly, is not allowed to get in the way of the Doctor being the Doctor, whatever that might mean for the incarnation at hand.

4. Because the open secret of Doctor Who fandom is that each of the Doctors has very little to do with any of the others, every time a new Doctor is introduced, the entire world resets. Old characters, relationships, and storylines are left behind entirely (well, usually). Certain iconic elements (usually villains, but we’ll throw the TARDIS in that category as well) are retained, but they almost always have entirely new histories, and not uncommonly come from totally different universes (and occasionally different dimensions) than before.

5. Which is to say that while one of the pleasures of being a Doctor Who fan is the wealth of continuity — fifty years, eleven Doctors, the TARDIS, Daleks, companions, Cybermen, Sontarans, The Master, Time Lords, Time Wars, traveling the whole of space and time with always something not quite the way it should be — it’s just as accurate to say that what makes Doctor Who work is a constant willingness to discard or reinvent continuity entirely, not just from Doctor to Doctor, but often from season to season or even episode to episode.

6. Thus, let me revisit #2, which is definitively untrue. You don’t actually need to know anything about the ongoing plot of Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time in order to pick up and enjoy any of the individual issues. Just like you don’t need to know anything about the previous Doctor — or any of the previous Doctors — in order to watch (almost) any specific episode of Doctor Who.

7. Sure, as with any continuity, there are some richer themes and resonances that reward knowing something about what came before, but when the very nature of the Doctor himself is in flux every few years — teacher, vagabond, general, eccentric, aristocrat-errant, madman, liar, soldier, scarecrow, geek — all you really ever need to do is pay attention to what is happening right now.

8. In fact, while Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time may seem to be aimed at the most devoted and well-versed of Doctor Who fans, it’s actually a great place for the casual but interested fan to get acquainted with versions of the Doctor they might not have seen in action. I can just about guarantee that you won’t like them all equally — so far I’ve discovered a fondness for the rough-edged, often unreliable Second Doctor over the more militaristic, fisticuffs at the ready Third Doctor — but you’ll come away with a better idea of which episodes you’ll find worth the effort to find and which you’ll be just as happy to leave gathering dust.

9. Which isn’t even to mention the comics. There are reams and reams of old Doctor Who comics out there, including (but in no way limited to) the Doctor Who Classics reprints from IDW (currently running issues on the Seventh Doctor) or the trade collecting Dave Gibbons run illustrating adventures of the Fourth Doctor.

10. Who (the Fourth Doctor) also happens to be featured in the current issue #4 of Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time. Going out on a limb, I’m going to say that if you’re a casual (or recent) Doctor Who fan, Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor is probably the classic Doctor you’re most likely to recognize. He’s the one with the dark, poofy curly hair and the ludicrously long multicolored scarf. (It is possible that I just think that he’s the most recognizable because he’s the Doctor whose reruns I watched on PBS when I was a child.)

11. Or, you can, of course, just pick up the issue(s) with your favorite Doctor(s), but I think you’d be missing out. This is a unique opportunity to add a Doctor or two to your list of favorites. Bow ties are cool, but so are scarves, and umbrellas, and celery.

Verdict: 7.0/10


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