Sunday, 23 August 2015

Time & Time Again

1 part (DWM 207) December 1993

Writer: Paul Cornell, Artist: John Ridgway, Colour: Paul Vyse, Editor: Gary Russell 
The 7th Doctor, Ace & Benny arrive on Earth to find it a war torn hellhole, invaded by countless alien forces at the behest of the Black Guardian.
The Black Guardian has doomed Earth by seeing to it that the Doctor never left Gallifrey, staying there as President to wage war against the Daleks.
Thankfully, the White Guardian will be able to fix history if the Doctor and his friends can once again retrieve the segments of the Key to Time.
He gives them each travel rings that will lead them to the segments, which are scattered along the Doctor's own timeline, one with each of his previous incarnations.
Benny bumps into the 2nd Doctor, Jamie and Zoe in the Land of Fiction...
...and pinches the Doctor's hat!
Ace bests the 3rd Doctor in a duel and steals his fencing foil...
...while the Doctor talks his immediate predecessor into parting ways with a favourite cat badge.
Ace catches the 5th Doctor out during his cricket game at Cranleigh Hall...
...and Benny borrows a jelly baby from his 4th incarnation as he flees Mandrels.
The Doctor retrieves the final segment - the TARDIS instruction manual - by tripping his 1st incarnation with his umbrella...
...saving him from extermination by one of Davros' imperial Daleks, which he pushes in front of a bus!
With the Key assembled in record time, the White Guardian puts history to rights and the Black Guardian is defeated.
On Gallifrey, the 1st Doctor starts out on his travels, taking his granddaughter Susan with him, telling her that they must do their best "to create a legacy."

As DWM's 30th Anniversary strip, Time & Time Again is a pleasing whirlwind jaunt through Doctor Who history.
Eschewing the need for any more than a cursory plot by it's one-part duration...'s a story that parades all the birthday party guests with some (qualified) pride. The characterisation is almost uniformly spot-on but Cornell sadly can't resist putting the boot into the 3rd Doctor with a stray "big nose" comment and an unlikely duel lost to Ace, and we do have to suspend our fan instincts when we see a 1st Doctor too absent minded to show concern at having lost the TARDIS manual on Earth in 1963, and his pre-An Unearthly Child self (a selfish isolationist, remember) echoing his 2nd self's "they must be fought". These are extremely minor irks, though, and thankfully reasonably easily overlooked.
The always peerless John Ridgway is a welcome returnee, giving what could otherwise have been a messy mish mash of eras and styles not only a continuity but a depth and reality that seamlessly stitches the worlds together in true Forrest Gump style, though it predates both that movie and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribulations".
Of course, there's really not all that much to it but by throwing in the kitchen sink and not outstaying its' welcome, it ticks all the boxes it needs to without ever becoming ludicrous or having to resort to too comedic a take on the multi-Doctor story.
It certainly benefits from its more wistful moments...
...but the real hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck moment is the denouement that allows the 1st Doctor to almost, but not quite, give something as affecting as "One day I shall come back..."

High quality stuff that's perhaps all surface, but that happily wears its' heart on its' sleeve too.



Coming Soon... Dragon's Claw

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