“Doctor Who and Companion What. Someone to explain the when and wheres to. It’s in the bylaws, I assume. And I’m all about following the rules I’m not breaking.”
Trust Missy to treat an idiom as something literal instead. If you just happen to be a renegade Time Lord with access to a TARDIS, a trip down memory lane requires only the flick of a few switches, instead of just exercising the old grey matter. And if straddling your own personal history with abandon is not breaking the Laws of Time, then Missy definitely seems intent on bending them entirely out of shape.
So far, Doctor Who: Missy has seen our villainess spring an earlier self from captivity in the Stormcage facility, with an audacious jailbreak which involved her masquerading as the Doctor, and apparently commandeering his trusty vessel as the getaway vehicle. Missy has even managed to firmly pull the wool over the eyes of the part-time Stormcage resident Professor River Song, once and future (or possibly past – her timeline gets a tad confusing) Doctor’s wife.
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The whole thing has been an awful lot of setup thus far, with the prison break taking up two whole issues, so thankfully in this latest instalment we get a bit of forward momentum, as Missy gets the next phase of her plan underway: making use of her earlier self to try and find the hidden key to the lock of a door, behind which a secret weapon lies. It appears buried somewhere in their tangled timestreams, so the Master and Missy are going on a trawl through their own history.
Here is where writer Jody Houser’s story actually throws up some intriguing questions, as for the Master, it does mean he receives more than just a glimpse of his personal future, whereas for Missy, this is all in the past for her. Yet, she has no apparent memory of any of these events from when she was that previous version of the Master, and herein lies one of the great ‘get out of jail free’ cards which has been played on television by Doctor Who when faced with crossovers of this kind.
After all, the Doctor has often crossed his own path, which is one of the inherent risks of being a time traveller, but when the current iteration bumps into earlier versions, they never seem to remember what happened. Cue a handy little bit of sci-fi technobabble about the timelines being out of phase, or not being synchronised, meaning that they never happen to retain any memories of their encounter when they finally go their separate ways. Convenient, that.
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So, presumably Houser is working along similar lines here, as Missy would appear to have no clue as to the whereabouts of the key, needing the help of her former incarnation. Unless, of course, she recalls everything, but has to still go through the motions for fear of creating a paradox. That happens to be a whole other kettle of fish, maybe best left for discussion on internet message boards; just hush your brain and try not to fret about all that timey-wimey gubbins.
At least having a jaunt through the Doctor and the Master’s greatest hits gives artist Roberta Ingranata the opportunity to show her mettle, by recreating a series of moments from the show’s history, and she does a great job in bringing them to life on the page. However, beyond all of this nostalgia, the issue tends to feel rather thin and repetitive, failing to really reward us for the last two parts taking so long getting us to this point. With only one more instalment left, Houser needs to pull a Master stroke to make this pay off.
Doctor Who: Missy #3 is out now from Titan Comics.