‘Doctor Who – The Lost Dimension: Book Two’ reviewed

❉ A truly entertaining conclusion to Titan’s multi-Doctor crossover event, with amazing visuals.

One of Doctor Who’s most curious traits is the way in which its narratives and fan engagement with them often echo each other. Though televised stories, such as The Trial of a Time Lord, tend to be the most prominent examples, it also occurs in the programme’s various spin-off stories. This includes Titan Comics’ most recent multi-Doctor event, The Lost Dimension, whose concluding installments have just been released as a hardcover collection.

By the end of the grand storyline’s first volume, the team of writers and artists had built up an intriguing narrative dilemma while paying homage to numerous aspects of Doctor Who’s mythology. For their part, many readers likely wondered whether the finale would be substantial enough to make the latter aspect feel like more than expertly executed fan service. To its credit, the second volume starts off strongly. With a strong combination of dialogue and visuals, its opening chapter both engenders optimism and raises expectations.

Reflecting The Lost Dimension’s atmosphere of nostalgia for things not-yet-experienced, it features the exploits of Tom Baker’s enduringly popular incarnation of the Doctor accompanied by the Lalla Ward version of Romana. Encountering Krotons, Quarks and Ogrons – all from alternate realities – the duo must find a way to stop an inter-dimensional war facilitated by the universe-threatening instability of the Void. In the TV era where this adventure is set, where at times the programme felt more like “The Tom Baker Show” than Doctor Who, the Doctor often came across as a bit too flippant. This story redresses the balance quite effectively, depicting the charm and easy chemistry between the Doctor and Romana but also giving him enough gravitas that there’s a genuine sense of jeopardy and lives being at stake.

That feeling distinguishes this interlude with the Fourth Doctor from the remainder of the volume, whose conclusion doesn’t quite meet the expectations raised. Though the eventual resolution is fairly clever, it’s a bit too self-referential to feel truly consequential. It works well enough as a device to assemble the Doctors but falls short as a proper adventure. Still, while the whole isn’t greater than the sum of the parts, it would be churlish not to enjoy the many parts that are truly entertaining.

A particular highlight is the interaction between the various post-“Classic Series” Doctors in the concluding chapters. As in the first volume, some of the likenesses are a bit off, but the writers – especially Doctor Who veterans George Mann and Cavan Scott – capture their personalities and speech patterns quite nicely. They also incorporate some subtle references to the series’ past, which are likely to please old fans and perhaps inspire further research among the curious. The appearance of a recurring figure from both Eccleston and Tennant’s time as the Doctor, whose presence typically signified Earth-shattering danger, is likewise a welcome addition for sharp-eyed readers.

On reflection, The Lost Dimension amounts to a very entertaining case study in both the scope and limits of spin-off stories. For all that the comics medium widens the scope, the need to maintain the need to maintain the televised status quo limits how significant a story can be in the broader narrative. If that makes The Lost Dimension somewhat less than transcendent neither does it necessarily diminish its capacity to entertain. Amazing visuals, such as a dimensionally compromised 11th Doctor, and moments like the Tenth Doctor’s reunion with his daughter Jenny are – like many Doctor Who stories – a reward in themselves.

❉ Doctor Who – The Lost Dimension: Book Two (Writers: Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, George Mann, Cavan Scott; Artists: Ivan Rodriguez, Wellington Diaz, Rachael Stott & Mariano Laclaustra with Anderson Cabral, Marcelo Salaza & Fer Centurion) is published by Titan Books Limited on 20 March 2018, ISBN: 9781785863479.

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