The Fugitive Doctor makes her comic book debut in a special Free Comic Book Day issue that squeezes a lot of charm into a brief page count
Free Comic Book Day is a by now traditional and well loved event in the comic book calendar. Every year people are encouraged to drop into their comic book shops in person, with the promise of comics that are both exclusive to the event and completely free. Titan Comics has been a mainstay of Free Comic Book Day for years. In fact, their Doctor Who Free Comic Book Day issue has become a tradition all its own. This year’s features the Fugitive Doctor, as played on TV by Jo Martin, and promises to be a prelude of kinds to the upcoming Doctor Who: Origins mini-series. But what should we make of this comic book debut for the most mysterious of Doctors?
First of all, it’s short. Different comics approach Free Comic Book Day differently each year. It’s not uncommon for them to be ‘greatest hits’ compilations featuring a collection of exciting scenes from across different titles. Something to lure the reader into picking up the relevant books to find out how the story goes. Others genuinely are a complete, full length issues for free. But Titan Comics’ approach with their Doctor Who title isn’t uncommon, with just eleven pages of new story, not printed anywhere else, to provide a half-length taster of what’s to come.
This tale of kids versus aliens subtly hints at a significant moment in Doctor Who history
Brief as it is, there’s a lot of charm squeezed into these pages. A group of children are playing in their den, arguing over who gets which toy, when the Doctor appears. Between the hunt to identify the alien beasties she’s looking for, and the resulting moral quandary for the kids as to whose story to believe, it’s a neat little Doctor Who story in miniature. It also records a significant moment in Doctor Who history, as the Doctor saves Earth for the first time ever.
Meanwhile, the clean lines of Roberta Ingranata’s art smoothly establishes the light tone of the story. Happily, the art doesn’t get itself bogged down in attempts at a heavily photo-referenced likeness of Jo Martin. Rather this is the Fugitive Doctor pulled into the comic book world of wide eyed kids and furry troll like aliens. Which, really, is just as it should be.
The issue smoothly recreates the character’s voice, though only hints at her shades of grey for now
Naturally, while the TV show left just enough wiggle room for various ideas about where and when the Fugitive Doctor fits in to events, or what sort of person she is, a longer solo adventure for her needs to decide on something more solid. Chris Chibnall even told DWM last month that ‘he has his opinions’ about it, but declined to share them. Despite that, comics writer Jody Houser has needed to settle on something more definitive. There are the first hints of some of those decisions here.
The question of just how Doctorish this Doctor is remains open for now, though. The Fugitive’s narrative purpose in her TV appearances is to be almost an Anti-Doctor. A gun totting bad ass who sheds no tears for the deaths of her enemies or, for that matter, the deaths of her companions. The very idea of having once been her disturbs the Thirteenth Doctor. This Free Comic Book Day issue puts her in a scenario with little room to explore her shades of grey, leaving plenty of mystery intact ahead of the mini-series. But certainly the voice of Jo Martin’s performance is well captured throughout; tetchy, but not needlessly cruel, a show-off, but single-minded in her mission. For fans of the Fugitive Doctor, this is an excellent place to start to scratch that itch for more adventures with her.