Part of the problem with Doctor Who comics going back to the very first ones way back in the 1960’s is although many have their own charm, or even come close to what the TV programme is like, they don’t 100% capture a feel and tone you’d get if you watched it on a Saturday evening on the BBC. Doctor Who: The Third Doctor #1 by writer Paul Cornell and artist Christopher Jones, and published by Titan Comics, manages that rare thing. It captures a time now long gone where the Doctor was Jon Pertwee, and Doctor Who stood triumphantly in BBC One’s Saturday night schedule.
Set in continuity just after the events of The Three Doctors, the 10th anniversary event that brought together all three Doctors up until that point, The Third Doctor has everything you’d expect from that era. There’s the Brigadier; there’s Bessie; there’s UNIT; there’s a mysterious alien menace in a quaint English village that seems to be occupied by three people; there’s The Master; there’s Jo Grant and mostly there’s a pitch-perfect version of Pertwee’s flamboyant Doctor. Cornell even gets that Jo Grant/Doctor relationship. We all know The Third Doctor and Jo used to have all sorts of adventures in the Time Vortex…
One of the biggest strengths of The Third Doctor #1 is how it manages to honour classic Doctor Who while making it feel fresh for the contemporary fans. While the story could have just so easily slipped into nostalgia for the sake of a trip down memory lane – to an era many fans consider to be the show’s heyday – the first issue manages to avoid these pitfalls. Sure, it’ll evoke a familiar feeling for vintage viewers, but it’ll give them something brand new to enjoy.
Christopher Jones does a great job making everyone look as they should, plus for younger fans of the series there’s a nice little Easter Egg for a current fan favourite. The actual alien menace does look somewhat bland and generic – almost a Happy Shopper version of the Cybermen – and if you’re coming to this comic with no idea of the 53 years of Doctor Who history you’ll be somewhat lost, but these are minor quibbles in what is otherwise a very impressive start to the series.
The Third Doctor isn’t going to regenerate the medium of comics, but this is a wonderfully warm – not to mention shamelessly nostalgic comic – which will gladden the heart of old and new Doctor Who fans. It manages to capture the essence of what makes Doctor Who tick, and it’s one of the few to manage it this successfully. However, by no means does it seem dated either, and The Third Doctor is sure to bring new life to the old guard we fondly remember.