REVIEW: Doctor Who: Four Doctors - "These Doctors Must Never Meet"

The much anticipated comic book miniseries Doctor Who: Four Doctors launches today, celebrating the first hugely successful year for Titan Comics’ three ongoing series. The weekly five part adventure draws together the three strands featuring the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, as portrayed onscreen by David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.

Doctor Who: Four Doctors is written by Paul Cornell, best known to Whovians for his screenplays for the Ninth Doctor adventure Father’s Day and the Tenth Doctor double bill Human Nature / The Family Of Blood. He’s partnered with artist Neil Edwards, who counts titles for Marvel and DC among others on his CV. The multi-Doctor event brings together the Tenth Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors and their comics companions and reintroduces the War Doctor, as played on TV by John Hurt, last seen in the 50th Anniversary special, The Day Of The Doctor.

The first issue hits comic stores and digital platforms today and is supported by the global Doctor Who Comics Day on Saturday 15th August. Each of the five issues comes with three covers to collect: an art cover, a photo cover and a companions art cover. There are also a number of special covers exclusively available through participating stores on Doctor Who Comics Day – see here for details.

Doctor Who: Four Doctors
Four Doctors, three companions, one action-packed mystery!
What shocking past event brings three Doctors together – to combat an unknown foe with three incarnations in its sights?

Doctor Who: Four Doctors is out now in your local comic store or available to order from Titan Comics

The War Doctor is back in Doctor Who: Four Doctors, the brand new comic book adventure from Titan Comics. He’s found leading the resistance against the Daleks in the Last Great Time War, on the devastated planet of Marinus, allied to classic enemies the Voord. Perhaps to say he ‘returns’ isn’t strictly accurate though; the adventure is set a while before the events of The Day Of The Doctor. However, this is a multi-Doctor adventure – things are inevitably going to turn a bit Timey-Wimey.

At another point in space and time, Clara Oswald has five minutes to convince two strangers of the impending destruction of the Universe. Fortunately these aren’t two random passers-by that she has collared. They’re none other than the Tenth Doctor’s companion Gabby Gonzalez and Alice Obiefune, currently travelling with the Eleventh Doctor. Clara has brought the TARDIS to Paris and snuck away from the Twelfth Doctor, warned by information from a mysterious source to ensure that their three versions of the Doctor NEVER meet…and that they absolutely NEVER set foot on Marinus.

But by bringing the three women together, it’s guaranteed that that the Doctors DO meet and, in the words of the Twelfth Doctor, “We're all going to have some sort of ‘multi-doctor event’ whether you like it or not!” Now there’s a paradox in place and a fixed point in time has been changed. As every Whovian knows, this has to have consequences. Fortunately writer Paul Cornell, who gave us the sublime Father’s Day, is faultless in his Whovian canon and has a track record in such timeline-twisting affairs: he even gives a nod to the Blinovitch Limitation Effect to signpost that this transgression of the laws of time isn’t going to go unpunished.

Throughout the issue, Cornell successfully draws some very clear distinctions between the three Doctors, drawing out the frictions between the different incarnations, which explodes from their clashing personalities. Ten is guilt ridden and suspicious, Eleven the more laid-back peacemaker while Twelve is angry and intolerant of his younger selves. What Cornell cleverly does though, is remind us how the Doctors are still one man by using the companions’ perspectives to point out their similarities. He also brings the companions to the forefront of the story and hopefully the strengths and personalities of Gabby and Alice, who exist only in the comic book stories, will be allowed to shine brightly in this heavily populated story among the established TV characters. Early signs are that they will.

The storyline is brought to life by some vibrant artwork by Neil Edwards, full of detail and as convincing when depicting exotic alien worlds as a mundane Parisian eatery. His attention to detail is even more apparent in his characters. The facial expressions, stances and body language of each actor, including Jenna Coleman’s Clara, are faithfully realised and will be familiar instantly to any viewer of the show.

The five-part adventure has undoubtedly got off to a gripping and intriguing start. There’s a cliffhanger ending featuring a fan-favourite foe worthy of any classic TV episode which is so riveting that it’s quite easy to forget where the story started. Exactly how will the War Doctor fit into the story? And how will the other incarnations react to him – especially the latest one! Fortunately there’s just a week to wait to find out. Issue #2 is released on Wednesday 19th August.

Paul Cornell recently talked to us about his work: read his interview here

Paul and Neil will be signing copies of the comic at Forbidden Plant in London today and at the Who Shop on Saturday. Find out about this and other Doctor Who comics signing events here.