Doctor Who is one of the longest-running sci-fi franchises in history. The series focuses around an enigmatic and adventurous alien known only as The Doctor and his time machine shaped like a blue police box, known as the TARDIS.
Each TV episode focuses on the Doctor’s adventures through time and space with his various, usually human, companions. The real appeal of the show is the variety and imagination in the story telling. When one has a time machine, just about anything can happen.
Sometimes The Doctor battles mechanical space fascists called Daleks; sometimes he meets famous historical figures like William Shakespeare and Winston Churchill. One of the more unique aspects of the show is the ability of The Doctor’s species, the Timelords, to regenerate.
Each time they are close to death they can keep themselves alive at the cost of altering their appearance and personality. Because of this, The Doctor has been played by eleven different actors to date.
This year marks a milestone in the rich history of Doctor Who. This spring celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the first time the show came on the air back in 1963. To celebrate the occasion, IDW Publishing has decided to release a comic each month of 2013 featuring a story from each of the eleven existing Doctors.
Today’s outing stars the First Doctor, portrayed by the late William Hartnell. The original was portrayed as a very fatherly figure, having his own granddaughter as one of his companions.
He was often stern and grouchy, but was very kind when necessary. At his core, the first Doctor was a teacher, eager to help his young companions learn about the wonders of space and time.
Our story has an ominous opening. A figure in a cloak is watching a monitor observing the various incarnations of The Doctor. We never learn who it is nor do we realize their intentions, but we do know that it involves eventually separating the Doctor from his companions.
Our story begins with The Doctor and company arriving in London 1968 to hear a lecture from the famous biologist Thomas Huxley, best known for defending the ideas of Charles Darwin. The Doctor’s companions enjoy the opportunity to learn from such a respected historical figure, but his companion Vicki, being from the far future, thinks his ideas are dated, much to the irritation of the others. After the speech, the Doctor talks to Huxley, whom he appears to already be quite well acquainted with. Huxley is glad to see the Doctor, but is troubled by the mysterious disappearances of his students.
It’s not long before the Doctor uncovers the culprit behind these events, the spider-like alien race known as The Zarbi and their master, the horrible monster known as Animus.
The Doctor encountered these creatures in an episode of the series called “The Web Planet.” He tries to tell Huxley not to hurt the Zarbi because they are under Animus’ mind control and are therefore innocent, but he’s troubled by the fact that he destroyed Animus in their last encounter.
The Doctor faces off with Animus and is nearly overwhelmed by the Zarbi. That is until Ian, one of the Doctor’s companions, runs over Animus with a train. With the Zarbi safely on their way home and Huxley sworn to secrecy despite the discovery the Zarbi present, all seems to have ended well, except for one thing.
Powerful as he was, Animus could not have gotten to Earth by himself; someone had to have helped him. The Doctor tries to ask his companions for a second opinion, only to find that they’ve mysteriously vanished.
This is a solid, typical Doctor Who story, but leaves a lot to be desired. I enjoyed it, but the story feels rushed and the episode it’s based on was fairly silly. Still, there were several nice touches like The Doctor taking his companions to a lecture, a very First Doctor thing to do, and the fact that he’s friends with a noted historical figure.
This is a good story but it is not particularly accessible to new fans. This is more for longtime fans of the franchise.
However, the idea of a story with each Doctor each month with an over-arching story and mystery to unfold as a framing device is very intriguing, leaving me looking forward to later this month when we meet the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton.
Wes Serafine can be contacted at