Scott Tipton, David Tipton and Elena Casagrande’s work on “Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time” #10 in many ways sums up all of the plusses and minuses when it comes to this 12-issue mini-series. There’s a great basic idea behind it, but large parts of it by this point still aren’t working, even as there’s always at least a small touch or two that makes fans think that somehow it might all come together.
Part of the problem is the story structure itself. As main villain Adam (finally revealed last issue) continues to steal companions of the Doctor, it feels like there’s no overall advancing of the plot. That’s clearly not going to happen until the final issue, which makes one think that in doing so, the series will end up with a rather rushed conclusion. More importantly, it makes the familiar plot structure of “Doctor and companion(s) go on a short romp, concluded by a snatch-and-grab by Adam that comes out of nowhere” feel incredibly tired and uninteresting. It’s too bad that the Tiptons never thought to mix up the pattern a bit; if they’d gotten the kidnapping out of the way on page 3 and then had some forward momentum over the overall story arc, I’d certainly be a lot more forgiving because it would be something different.
It also doesn’t help that the individual issue’s story is distinctly uninteresting. Ignoring the idea that a planet that was erased from existence somehow still has light waves travelling towards Earth that can be seen makes no sense at all, the rest of the comic isn’t much better. A sequel to “The Dominators” is a moment that literally no one has ever requested, and yet that’s what the Tiptons present. The Dominators are still as dull as their original appearance, and the Quarks may have a great visual look but they’re still about as interesting as a fancy-looking laser pistol, which is to say not at all. The story just plods along, and the rare times where there’s something interesting starting to happen (Martha getting cast in the film, despite her skin color in the 1950s) it’s quickly whisked off-panel.
Casagrande’s art makes this comic somewhat better, though, because she’s great when it comes to likenesses. The Doctor and Martha look almost perfect: real spitting images for David Tennant and Freema Agyeman. More importantly, they don’t look posed or stiff, something that’s so often a problem in a licensed comic. They stare, they wink, they even react perfectly. Martha’s nervous smile when she’s being approached by the producers looks wonderful, both in terms of how we get the reaction and also being spot-on for how it would look on the screen. The story might not be all that, but Casagrande’s knocking it out of the park with her visuals.
“Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time” #10 ultimately comes back to the frustrating fact that one wants to like it at a level greater than its actual quality. The core concept isn’t bad, and with a strong editorial hand I feel like this could have gone places. In the end, though, it just doesn’t quite ever work. Lovely art, though.