Doctor Who: Origins #1 finally explores one of the Whoniverse’s greatest mysteries in a must buy series for fans of the Fugitive Doctor
This week kicks off Titan Comics’ exploration of the most mysterious of the Doctor’s incarnations – the Fugitive Doctor. Memorably played by Holby City’s Jo Martin in Fugitive of the Judoon, she was part of one of the most shocking plots in the show’s history. Who would have guessed unassuming Colchester tour guide Ruth was a Time Lord is disguise, much less the Doctor herself? Doctor Who: Origins acts as a prequel to that groundbreaking story, and features the future Fugitive during her days as a willing agent of Gallifrey’s unscrupulous ‘dirty tricks’ agency, the Division. But for how much longer…
Depicting the Fugitive presents a unique challenge among all our hero’s incarnations. On the one hand, she’s an almost blank page, never really having had the chance on TV to build up her own collection of catch-phrases, personality quirks, and particular emotional triggers. But there’s also the question of how Doctorish to make this most unDoctorish of Doctors. After all, as a supporting character in the story of Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation she’s so far practically been defined by the later version’s low key horror at having once been her, and at her more brutal, ruthless way of operating. But the more you lean into that, the less pleasant the character becomes to spend time with. So what is Origins writer Jody Houser to do?
We join the Doctor towards the end of her time with Division, with her already starting to question their methods
Ultimately Origins #1 takes a page out of the War Doctor’s book. Although dialogue talked a lot about how uncompromising and warlike the John Hurt incarnation became, it’s all reflected through his regrets in is later years and his wish he could regain what he’d lost. Similarly, Origins seems set near the end of the Doctor’s time with Division, as she’s already questioning their methods. Though her already having a ‘no guns’ policy in place in this incarnation does feel odd. If this is a fudge, it’s an understandable one – it’s one thing to say these things have happened, but an actual depiction of the Doctor as a ruthless assassin in the James Bond mould probably wouldn’t pass BBC approval.
Saying that, Origins does kick off in suitable Bond pre-credits style. We join the Doctor and her partner pulling off a last minute victory in a mission already in progress. That this partner is a Weeping Angel, the Doctor even quite happy for her to snack on Division’s enemies, is one of the clearest signs that this isn’t the Time Lord we know. But soon she’s assigned an eager and naive new recruit as her companion. She’s also given her latest mission by a snootily superior Time Lord in the tradition of Terror of the Autons. A new menace has risen that threatens Gallifrey itself. A threat that must be met with immediate and total destruction. But the Doctor has her doubts her orders, and sets out to find out more about this strange new aggressor before following them out.
Writer Jody Houser presents this incarnation as tough and cynical, but with plenty of wry charm
It’s an appealing set-up that promises an intriguing insight into the Fugitive Doctor. Possibly even how she came to be hiding out on 21st century Earth in the first place. Meanwhile, one of Houser’s real gifts as a Doctor Who writer has been her keen ear for the voices of the various Doctors and companions. This incarnation’s relatively brief onscreen appearances so far gives the writer a free hand. In the end she settles on a wry, knowing tone. This is a Doctor who’s difficult to impress, but is more amused than aggravated by those around her.
With the new Russell T Davies era likely to be moving on to its own storylines, Doctor Who: Origins is shaping up to be a must for fans of the Fugitive. Indeed, it’s an essential purchase for anyone who wants to know more about this corner of Doctor Who history. But will we ever find out the answer to the biggest question of all — why does her TARDIS already look like a Police Box?
Doctor Who: Origins #1
A brand-new, never-before-seen adventure featuring the fugitive Doctor in her comics debut!
Working for the mysterious Division on a dangerous assignment, the Doctor uncovers something insidious afoot. Discover why this regeneration became known as the Fugitive!
Doctor Who: Origins #1 is out on the 8th of June and available from Titan Comics and all good comic book retailers