Doctor Who: The Third Doctor #1 Review

Written by: Paul Cornell

Art by: Christopher Jones

Publisher: Titan Comics

When it comes to Paul Cornell writing Doctor Who, you know you’re in for something special. Cornell has written some of the best episodes of the revived show, some incredible novels, and one of my all time favourite audio dramas Circular Time. He also penned last years fantastic Four Doctors crossover, so I was giddy with excitement for this issue. Thankfully, this has paid off, as The Third Doctor reads like a child playing with his action figures and is just as joyful.

The issue sees The Doctor back on Earth just in time for an alien invasion. Called in by U.N.I.T. he is reunited with his companion Jo Grant and old friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart to combat the invasion. For anyone not familiar with Pertwee’s 70s era Doctor Who, it was essentially a mesh between Action Man and old James Bong films, full of gadgets, explosions and Venusian karate. Thusly, it makes prime material for a comic adaptation and this one does not disappoint. It feels like Cornell dusted off all his old action figures and started playing with them in order to plot the comic, and that same joyous energy feeds back to the reader. There’s so many dramatic plot reveals and (dare I say) hilariously dated action that transports you right back to 70s Saturday evening television. Cornell understands the source material to a T and evokes that feeling wonderfully.

What helps is the gorgeous art from Christopher Jones, who keeps up with the scripts frantic and action packed pace. His characters are incredibly expressive and make sure to suck the reader in to everything that’s happening. A common complaint about classic Doctor Who is it’s slow pace, but here it seems like something is happening in every panel to keep you invested. One of my personal favourites is the dramatic villain reveal, which I shan’t spoil, but can say that it delivers a childhish thrill and is pulled off perfectly. If there’s one complaint I have, it’s that Jones’ backgrounds can occasionally be lacking, there are some panels which are angled oddly so as to not have to draw as much of a background. It’s a shame seeing as how the first half of the book is lushly detailed and gorgeously colored, but seems to buckle a bit towards the end.

While the issue is definitely fun for newcomers, if you’re a longtime Whovian you’re going to find this issue an absolute delight. There’s quite a few references throughout, to both the classic and modern show in a lovely bit of continuity. The ending especially will leave you shouting “Oh my giddy aunt!” as the comic reveals a scale beyond my own expectations. It’s a real nostalgic nosedive throughout, but one that doesn’t lean on its own history too heavily. It’s a comic more than able to stand on its own merits, while tipping its toe just enough into the history of the property to keep die hard fans satisfied.

Overall, Doctor Who: The Third Doctor more than exceeded my expectations, delivering a book that’s fun, exciting and perfect for longtime fans. Titan have been putting out a lot of Who comics, so it can understandably be hard to keep up, but let it be known that this is one you certainly don’t want to miss.