Sunday, 21 June 2015

FANS WHO: The Ten Doctors by Rich Morris

The Ten Doctors is a webcomic released in single page instalments from 2007 to 2009, on Rich's Comixblog, a site packed full of fantasy comics featuring characters both original and fan-appropriated. Rich Morris, also the author of the extremely popular Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, wrote and illustrated The Ten Doctors on an ad hoc basis, often daily, often not, and at almost 250 pages, with other projects going on alongside it, it's easy to see why it took so long to reach completion. It's also absolutely manic, featuring pretty much every major companion, villain, Time Lord and alien race from televised Doctor Who up till Rich began writing it in 2007.

It sounds like it should be a mess, and while there's the occasional moment where it becomes a little overegged, it actually holds together very well. In fact, it's really rather brilliant. Following it as it was published was in some ways better than reading it now in one big go. While it was hard to remember all the ongoing plot points over the two years it ran, that also meant the odd strands that petered out didn't stand out. Reading it together, it's clear that there was a fair bit of making it up on the run, but that considered, it works incredibly well, especially once it gets all the Doctors to Gallifrey and focuses on the central plot.

Without spoilering it, the story picks up the tenth Doctor after the events of The Runaway Bride, brings in his previous nine incarnations and takes them all over time and space in an elaborate array of plots and counterplots that converge on Gallifrey on the eve of the Time War. This was, of course, long before The Day of the Doctor or any hint of the War Doctor, or any of the events connected to the War, so there's no point trying to make it fit in with what we've seen now. It does, however, tie in beautifully to everything we'd seen up to that point. Given how many characters there are running around, Rich does an amazing job of keeping everyone busy and useful to the plot. While some of the companions are a bit superfluous, pretty much everyone is there for a reason, even if it is just comic relief (and this is a genuinely funny comic, especially for those as steeped in the series' lore as me and Rich).

Some of the best material comes with the interactions between the Doctors. Particularly lovely is Ten's heartwarming reaction to seeing Five, which evokes the classic skit Time Crash in spite of being posted over six months before that was broadcast. Six is as full of himself as ever, rubbing his other selves up the wrong way, none more so than Four, who's fully aware that he's the most popular Doctor ever. Two and Three snipe and snap at each other while the first Doctor retains his position as the venerable old man of the group. Nine has some surprisingly harsh moments, the events of the Time War uncomfortably close for him, while Eight, who remains separate from the others for the bulk of the story, provides sharp relief to his successor. And, in spite of the title, and the time it was written, there are more than ten Doctors taking part. I'm not sure how you'd count them all... the Fourteen Doctors, maybe? There are even some surprising regenerations.

There are some poignant moments, but overall, The Ten Doctors is just bloody good fun. It's a celebration of Doctor Who in all its overcomplicated silliness. A joyous romp by a fan, for fans, illustrated in a charmingly simple yet effective style. Rich and his co-conspirators have released several more Doctor Who related strips over the years, many of them wonderfully unlikely crossovers (James Bond, Forever Knight, Jem and the Holograms!), but this is the best. There's plenty of extra information in Rich's notes and appendices, including a complete Doctor Who timeline listing all the episodes, site comics and multi-Doctor adventures (I helped out a little with that). It doesn't look like the site has been updated much in recent months, but things have started up again just very recently. There's plenty to enjoy on there, but first, download The Ten Doctors. Have fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment