Doctor Who: The Tides of Time

Doctor Who: The Tides of Time cover

Doctor Who: The Tides of Time says it’s the “complete run of Fifth Doctor comic strips from the pages of Doctor Who Monthly“. I can’t argue with that, but I had a bunch more questions after reading it.

Since it started as serialized, it’s a dense read. I finished the first seven-part, 50+ page story feeling as though I’d completed a typical graphic novel, and I had six more stories to go. (I didn’t like any of them quite as much as the first, though.) It’s also physically heavy, with 226 pages of heavy, glossy paper.

The stories are reprinted from DWM #61-84 and Doctor Who Magazine #86-87 (I assume that the title was changed and numbering continued, since one story runs across the gap). The book begins with the Doctor happily hanging out in the small English village of Stockbridge playing cricket. There’s no indication of why, or how he got there, or when this is supposed to take place, since there are no companions.

And I didn’t realize how much I missed them, since this guy is pretty bland without those more vibrant personalities to play off of. Or maybe it’s Steve Parkhouse’s writing. Without companions, the Doctor also winds up thinking or talking to himself more than seems right. Dave Gibbons’ art is a treat to pour over, though, and the likeness is very good.

Doctor Who: The Tides of Time cover

The new character, Shayde, didn’t impress me much. Visually, he’s a guy in a black leotard with a globe for a head. Story-wise, he’s computer-connected, so he knows everything; he can become a shadow, so he can be anywhere; and he robs any sense of danger from the Doctor. I couldn’t figure out why a writer would want such a magic out, unless the short chapter structure was more frustrating to deal with than I imagine.

The next story is a short (two-chapter) comedic interlude about a geeky conspiracy nut encountering the Doctor. It’s a prelude to the next long story, about an alien source of fear. At that point, Gibbons is replaced by other artists, mostly Mick Austin (who when he first takes over, gives us a stumpy Doctor who looks about four feet tall) and Parkhouse.

The Doctor winds up accusing a possessed TARDIS of lying to him, getting hit by a car, and trapped by a fire. Good action panels, but not what I think of as in character for the version of the Doctor I know. And that’s my biggest issue with these stories — they could have been applied to almost any science fiction hero. They didn’t seem unique to the character. Heck, one sequence could be more accurately titled Shayde Action Comics.

The bonus story by Paul Neary is an eight-page short from Doctor Who Weekly #17-18 where the Fourth Doctor goes back in his own personal time, reverting to previous versions, and then forward again.

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