❉ A multitude of Doctors, companions and monsters – and the return of the Doctor’s daughter!
How much is too much? When a programme has as long and rich a history as Doctor Who, there’s an understandable desire to delve into it and combine elements from across the fifty-some years worth of stories. In a sense, this was even easier during the “Wilderness Years” when new Doctor Who stories were mainly the province of books and later audio dramas. Spin-offs that catered to long-term fans could incorporate the show’s mythology to an extent that wouldn’t work for the more mainstream TV mothership outside of special occasions like 2013’s anniversary story The Day of the Doctor.
Of all the current purveyors of non-TV Doctor Who stories, none have embraced that legacy as vigorously as Titan Comics. Unbound by budget or the availability of actors, no combination of characters, settings or monsters is off-limits to their creative teams. This has enabled them to produce not just note-perfect recreations of a televised era, as in last year’s Third Doctor miniseries Heralds of Destruction, but also multi-Doctor crossovers like Supremacy of the Cybermen. The third of these multi-Doctor events, The Lost Dimension, is bring collected into two hardcover editions, the first of which was just released.
Though the four established 21st century Doctors are the primary protagonists, every pre-Whitaker Doctor makes at least a brief appearance (though some don’t come into the picture until the second collection). A multitude of companions, monsters and other returning characters are also on-hand to keep things lively. From Kate Stewart to Jack Harkness by way of vintage Cybermen, their collective presence signifies the high-stakes involved. If there was any doubt on that front, the return of “the Doctor’s daughter” Jenny – unseen since the 2008 episode of that name – occurs early on to dispel it.
That the familial relationship between Georgia Tennant, who portrayed Jenny, and two of the men who’ve played the Doctor is reflected in the story with a knowing reference is likewise emblematic of the series as a whole. While the threat posed by the Void is sufficiently imposing in the manner that Doctor Who’s modern iteration has made familiar, it’s really not the crux of events. What truly animates the story is the interaction it facilitates between characters who wouldn’t otherwise meet and by extension the different eras of Doctor Who they embody. How a reader feels about that approach is almost certainly a key indicator of how much they’ll enjoy The Lost Dimension.
In TV terms, this falls somewhere between The Day of the Doctor and 1983’s The Five Doctors. There’s a reasonably cohesive plot uniting the various Doctors but also an echo of the 20th anniversary special’s drinking-game/party atmosphere. The overriding tension between novelty and nostalgia is neatly encapsulated by a line of dialogue given to Rose when she and the Ninth Doctor encounter Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint: “Something…weird happened to me. I saw memories…memories that never happened.” Almost every key sequence in The Lost Dimension invokes an aspect of Doctor Who lore that either preceded or followed that particular Doctor’s tenure.
Fortunately, this stroll down a repaved memory lane has been entrusted to a solid group of writers and artists. George Mann and Cavan Scott have written Doctor Who stories for a variety of mediums, and Nick Abadzis has been a key part of Titan’s comics line. Their work is supported by a strong artistic team, among them Adriana Melo and Rachael Scott, whose other credits include not just recent Doctor Who comics but also Star Trek, Star Wars and many of DC and Marvel’s major characters. While not every Doctor comes off ideally in terms of likeness, the overall result complements the epic nature of the story. Even the most ambitious productions in the TV programme’s history couldn’t operate on this scale, but the team is clearly enjoying the challenge.
What’s less clear – at least as the first volume ends – is whether it’s leading to something substantial. Is this a multi-course meal or self-serve frozen-yogurt with all the toppings. If it’s the latter, how much is too much? All will be revealed when the second volume is released just one short month from now.
❉ Doctor Who – The Lost Dimension: Book One (Nick Abadzis, Cavan Scott, George Mann) is published by Titan Books Limited on 20 February 2018, ISBN: 9781785859137.