The Fugitive Doctor’s adventure comes to the end… or is it just beginning?
Titan Comics’ Doctor Who: Origins comes to a close with issue 4, as the fall out from last issue’s events have repercussions that will reshape the future of Gallifrey… and the Doctor. What’s most striking about this conclusion, however, is how quickly it wraps up that central plot of Time Lord conspiracies. This frees the bulk of the issue up to examine the Fugitive Doctor’s feelings about what she’s learned. More ominously, we learn the path these events have sent Time Lord society down as well.
As countless writers have found, writing about the early days of the Time Lord homeworld is tough work. There’s an irresistible pull towards earth shattering ‘this changes EVERYTHING’ revelations, but it’s actually genuinely difficult to find things to say that are both original and make sense in the context of what’s gone before. With Doctor Who Origins writer Jody Houser places her story in a particularly compelling continuity niche. And it’s one which she fills with characteristic skill and ingenuity.
Origins does use the same trick as with the representation of the War Doctor on television and in other media. Like John Hurt’s regretful warrior, we meet the Fugitive at the point where we’re told they’ve done terrible things. But we’re spared actually seeing them in favour of witnessing their regret and redemption. It may seem a way of having your anti-hero cake and eating it. But realistically it’s unlikely we’ll ever see the Doctor in any greyer moral tones than this. Certainly not in an official BBC licenced story at any rate.
Origins joins some of the dots in the Timeless Child saga with smart and imaginative storytelling
We already knew that this series would focus on the increasing tensions between the Doctor and Division. And that this adventure might well be the mission that finally pushes her too far. But there proves to be something even more interesting at work here. The story finds a way to play at the edges of the Timeless Child plot line in a way unlikely to be get under the feet of any upcoming revelations on television. But both the questions it asks, and the answers it finds for them, are deeply satisfying.
We knew that the first generation of Time Lords to benefit from the experiments on the Timeless Child were true immortals, with effectively limitless regenerations. And we know that later Time Lords were restricted to twelve. We’ve been left to wonder exactly why, but Origins intelligently explores the evolving science of regeneration as a philosophical battlefield – a frontier where the war over what the Time Lords should, and shouldn’t, become is fought. It also means Origins sidesteps any danger of being an ‘ordinary’ Doctor Who story that happens to feature the Fugitive. Instead, it provides colour and nuance to a part of the history of the Doctor, and the Time Lords, ripe for exploration.
Doctor Who: Origins proves an unqualified triumph in bringing the Fugitive Doctor centre stage and building on this new Time Lord era
It could be argued that Doctor Who: Origins had two criteria for success. The first to present a unique story that could only have been told with Jo Martin’s incarnation. The second to make the case that the Fugitive is a compelling character in her own right. It’s an unqualified triumph on both counts. This Doctor is so much more than just a part of someone else’s back story. Between this thoughtful, extended coda in issue four, and the light touch brought by artist Roberta Ingranata, deftly catching the essential energy of characters without straight-jacketing itself to photo references, Origins proves that the future of Doctor Who comics remains in very good hands.
(Though, after the recent side steps, if we could catch up with the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends soon, that would be fantastic.)
Doctor Who: Origins #4
Working for the mysterious Division on a dangerous assignment, the Doctor uncovers something afoot. Discover what this Doctor was up to before she became the Fugitive!
You can order Doctor Who: Origins #4, in print or digital form, through the links on its Titan Comics page.