So, your television programme is going to be off the air for something like 18 months at least (festive special episode excepted) between series. What do you do in order to keep your audience interested, and get some valuable exposure for the show in the meantime? Well, if you just so happen to be the BBC, then you come up with Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious.
What is it? Well, Time Lord Victorious is a multi-platform linked story, featuring three Doctors, spread across a series of different media: comic strips, books, audios dramas, and live experiences, with tie-in merchandise. So, the wheezing, groaning sound you might hear is the sound of fans’ money dematerialising from their wallets as they fork out for all the various branches of the story. Nobody ever said it was cheap being a devotee of something.
The whole idea came from market research done by Auntie Beeb, to see if fans would be interested in a story told using several different methods, as well as what they would want to see included. Mind you, market research also told the BBC in the early 2000s that Doctor Who was an outdated, tired concept which would almost certainly fail to resonate with a modern audience, so make of that what you will. It remains to be seen whether Time Lord Victorious is a horse designed by committee.
Although part of a cohesive whole, every strand is designed to also stand alone and be relatively self-contained, which means if your budget will not stretch to everything making up the Time Lord Victorious storyline, or you simply want to pick and choose what parts you like the look of, then you can still take part. To help keep track of what will be coming out, a timeline (appropriately enough) has been created, giving full details of what is coming out, when, and what medium it will actually be in.
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Time Lord Victorious relates to a relatively unexplored part of Doctor Who mythology, known as the Dark Times, an era of pre-history at the dawn of the universe. Although some elements have turned up throughout the series, it has never actually travelled back that far, and Time Lord Victorious is going to show exactly why. The whole event actually kicked off earlier this year, with a live ‘escape room’ experience – ‘A Dalek Awakens’ – in Reading and Birmingham, and now the experience gets underway properly.
Titan Comics has the honour of launching things with ‘Defender Of The Daleks’, bringing those malevolent pepperpots to their Doctor Who comic series for the first time. The Tenth Doctor finds himself being pursued relentlessly through all of time and space by his arch enemies, but when he finally confronts them, he gets a rather unexpected response: they require his help to rid them of their worst enemy – and it happens to not be him. Yes, the Doctor has been relegated, and he is just not quite sure how he feels about it.
What is even more perplexing is that these Daleks appear to know nothing about the Time War – the final battle between them and the Time Lords, which seemingly saw their mutual destruction – and their self-proclaimed foe actually ceased to exist an eternity ago. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but the Doctor has more than nine lives, so he decides to take up their request and do what he can to assist, while at the same time trying to work out precisely what would appear to have gone wrong with reality.
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Writer Jody Houser – responsible for all Titan’s Doctor Who comic output featuring the Thirteenth Doctor – has done a more than admirable job when faced with the thankless task of getting the entire Time Lord Victorious story underway. If any criticism can be raised about ‘Defender Of The Daleks’, it has to be with Roberta Ingranata’s really bizarre depiction of the Daleks themselves – they look fundamentally wrong, in the sort of way that would make a fan’s teeth itch; it appears especially odd when you consider the pains taken to make an older type of Dalek look so accurate when it turns up.
Plenty of mystery and intrigue in evidence, and more death traps than you could shake a Dalek’s sucker stick at. All in all, a rather promising start to Time Lord Victorious, one which will hopefully lead to a satisfying conclusion, and get things off on the right foot for everything else yet to come.
Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious – Defender Of The Daleks #1 is out now from Titan Comics.