Doctor Who: Origins #4 – Comic Review

It seems that every hero needs an origin story. We know that Superman was sent to Earth as the lone survivor of a dying world. Peter Parker became Spider-Man when he was bitten by a radioactive arachnid, and learnt that with great power comes great responsibility. And one day, Hollywood might actually show us what it was that turned Bruce Wayne into Batman (/sarcasm).

With Doctor Who, it took a little while to find out what – for a long time – we thought to be the lead’s backstory. When we first met the Doctor back in 1963, it was as a grumpy old man who was on the lam from his homeworld, accompanied by his granddaughter. However, it was some six years before we found out what has generally been held as being the true account: he was bored with his own people, and so he stole a TARDIS, seeking to explore the universe.

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Flash forward several decades, and it seems all bets are off. Everything which we took as being a certainty has now been upended, and it appears the Doctor has had many more lives and a somewhat different beginning than we believed to be the case. Now, we are told, he started out as a she, and she was not a native of Gallifrey after all. Not only that, but it also appears that she was the basis of Gallifreyans’ ability to regenerate, after her gift was harvested by a scientist.

In the episode ‘Fugitive Of The Judoon’, the current Doctor happened across an incarnation who came from far earlier than she thought she had been alive, back before what she believed had been her first body. Later on, in the twelfth season’s finale, ‘The Timeless Children’, her arch-enemy the Master gave her an insight into her lost history, telling her about just what he had discovered before exacting his revenge on the Time Lords and wiping them all out.

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So, the Doctor’s origins are now in flux, and we have seen odd snatches of one of these earlier incarnations, in the shape of the ‘Fugitive Doctor’, who had been the one who was hiding away on Earth having changed her biology from Time Lord to human. On the run from her own people, with a rackety old TARDIS, there looks to be a wonderful symmetry with what we had been told for all these years had been the real reason of the Doctor becoming the hero we knew them to be.

Titan ComicsDoctor Who: Origins has the unenviable task of filling in some of the blanks, and showing us the Doctor’s pre-history, bridging the gap between those forgotten lives and the Doctor we have been watching for almost 60 years. Writer Jody Houser has certainly done as adept and deft a job as perhaps anyone could in trying to thread that needle, and giving us a credible beginning for the character with so very little on-screen material provided so far with which to work.

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No matter what face they wear, the Doctor has always been a righteous champion for the oppressed, and here we see our soon-to-be ‘Fugitive Doctor’ facing up to a great injustice at home. Houser shows how the seeds of discontent have been sown, giving the Doctor a real and compelling reason to feel enough is enough, and if they are going on to fight the good fight, then they have to do it on their own terms, which will mean turning their back on Time Lord society.

Slowly, Houser has been drawing the threads together, and making sure everything starts to gel in a convincing way, in giving the Doctor a believable motivation to do what comes next. The big question is whether the payoff will prove to be as satisfying as the buildup, but given the sterling job Houser has been doing thus far – ably accompanied by some fine art from Roberta Ingranata – it all seems to be pointing in the right direction.

Doctor Who: Origins #4 is out now from Titan Comics.

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