I’ve always likened the Paul McGann era of Doctor Who to be the transitional stage between Classic Who and Nu Who. Despite having only been in one television adventure, the McGann incarnation of the Doctor is interesting in that this 8th version of the Time Lord has had possibly more explorations in print than most of the other Doctors.
Despite my praising, I also often feel that McGann got the raw end of the stick in the Whoniverse – having only had one televised adventure and never since been given a chance to make an appearance in the modern series. (Come on, Steven Moffat; let him show up in a Multi Doctor story!!!)
So it was with great anticipation that I received the eighth issue of Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, focusing on the McGann Doctor. Although it’s never specified how far along in his incarnation he is within the confines of this issue, the comic finds him arriving back in San Francisco in February 2000, to meet up with his companion from the TV movie, Grace.
In a moment that reminded me eerily of the Matt Smith version of the Doctor, we come across this version of the Time Lord returning to a previous companion, to encourage her to travel with him. After much reluctance, Grace agrees for “one short trip,” during which they end up on an Earth-like world. While there, they learn that the native species were “rescued” from extinction by an alien race, but for a price.
As far as the stand-alone adventure is concerned, the McGann story is a little rushed, but still stays near to the standards already established by writers Scott and David Tipton. There are elements of the story that mirror previous televised adventures (the concept of one race “saving” another for nefarious goals is not a new one), and perhaps could have benefited from further exposition if they had more space to tell a bigger story.
In the previous issue, the overarching plot – of an unnamed nemesis kidnapping and imprisoning the Doctor’s companions from various periods of his lives – took a back seat to allow some space for the standalone story (a showdown between the Doctor and the Master).
In this issue, there are some minor twists that made for a welcome change, as the overarching plot takes on a slightly larger role. We learn a little more of the connection between the nemesis and the Doctor (no spoilers here, I promise), which will make you start to question identities even further.
The artwork in this chapter is done by Roger Langridge, and while it is of a good standard, it feels a little out-of-place and a deviation for the series. Langridge has a distinct style and flavor, which has worked exceptionally well in his other work, but within the confines of Prisoners of Time, it leaves a caricature-style and cartoonish feel to the final product.
There are several moments that feel and appear more like an Archie comic, and while his artwork is beautiful to look at, it feels somewhat misplaced when compared to the work in the previous issues.
Still, it’s an enjoyable issue, and I think the writing captures the significance of how much of a transition the McGann Doctor embodies between Classic Who and Nu Who. It’s still worth a read, and I’m sure Whovians will enjoy it.