EP0041: Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension

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The Universe is in peril which means it’s time for a massive Doctor Who event with at least five Doctors playing an active role and so many guest stars.

Transcript follows:

The universe needs saving and it’s up to the Doctor, a bunch of his past selves and a whole lot of friends in the massive crossover event Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension straight ahead.

Welcome to the Classy Comics Podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise, Idaho here is your host, Adam Graham.

Ever since Titan got the Doctor Who license, every year they have done a massive crossover event between different Doctors. The first year it was The Four Doctors which had the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors all meeting up despite Clara Oswald’s efforts to prevent it; then there’s Supremacy of the Cybermen which was a crossover event where things were happening throughout the Twelfth Doctor’s prior lives, but really all of the action in terms of being able to impact everything lay with a Twelfth Doctor. It was also a comic book sequel of sorts to the series finale of Series Nine ‘Hellbent’ which doesn’t have a great reputation among fans to start with. For their 2017 crossover they tried something far more ambitious: there would be five Special Issues published along with taking one issue each from the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors’ ongoing series. How does this work out? Well let’s take a look.

The series was actually reprinted in two separate trades: Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension Book One and Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension Book Two. I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime down the line Titan goes ahead and collects all eight Issues into a single trade; but at any rate, as of right now it’s in two books, so just be aware of that. The books do have a reading order so we’ll go ahead and take a look at them. It starts out with Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension Alpha which has Captain Jack trying to get Tara, a companion of the Ninth Doctor, who had been added during the Ninth Doctor comic series trying to get her home, yet the planet they’re on is being subsumed in a White Hole. A figure in a white suit who turns out to be Jenny, The Doctor’s daughter, offers to rescue them but we learn that she wasn’t able to rescue them because she soon shows up where the Twelfth Doctor is on campus teaching, and informs him that she just got away and her bowship.
Now I should explain Jenny’s origin. Jenny was actually grown from a DNA sample taken from the Tenth Doctor against his will and used as a soldier in a war that combatants assumed had been going on forever. She is killed towards the end of the episode and the Doctor leaves, but she revives at the end and flies off to have her own adventures and is never seen again on television.

The Tenth Doctor was quite miffed about this and really in denial, so it was kind of fun when I was reading the book. You saw the Twelfth Doctor acknowledge the problems of where she had come from but also kind of give her a fatherly embrace and accept her and say ‘You can’t choose your kids’. I think reflects some of the maturing that the Twelfth Doctor actually experienced. However, this character moment is interrupted when Kate,Stewart, Osgood, and everyone from UNIT who’d been investigating the site of the crash of Jenny’s bowship comes in all wild-eyed and saying, “Peace “, and we’re definitely in for a difficult situation.

The next story is the Ninth Doctor Special because the Ninth Doctor no longer has an ongoing title at Titans. The story finds he and Rose landing on a ship in the ocean during Victorian era, and the ship is owned by Madam Vastra and she and Jenny are sailing out searching for a Silurian colony because Vastra believed that she was alone in the world and the Doctor persuaded her to believe that. And so she is upset because she gets the idea that the Doctor knew full well about this colony but didn’t tell her for reasons of his own. This is a good Issue, and like many in this book does stand alone for the most part, although there are hints at the wider story including the Ninth Doctor getting a telepathic message from the Fourth Doctor.

The next part of the story is in Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor, Year Three, Issue Nine which finds the Tenth Doctor and his two comic book companions Gabby and Cindy landing on a space station which is running into some difficulties due to the changes that are happening in space as a result of the event. The Doctor manages to get the space station stable, only for them to find themselves under attack by the Cybermen. This is a solid action-packed issue that really does raise the stakes, and at the same time it’s mostly a pretty good story in and of itself with the story it tells. It’s great action, good art and really ends with a big hint as to what’s going on with a knocking at the TARDIS, and one of the Doctor’s companions – Gabby – narrating, very occasionally I’ll see the Doctor get scared. Doesn’t happen very often but when it does you know things are serious and does a very good job, the artist does of capturing the kind of look of fear on the Tenth Doctor’s face.

[The] fourth part of the story was in Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor, Year Three, Issue Ten which finds the Doctor stuck in the white void and he finds a way out, but ends up somewhere where he absolutely should not be – ancient Gallifrey. Gallifrey before the Time Lords had taken place, before the TARDIS travel was perfected. He is stuck there because the fluid link on his TARDIS is broken and he can’t fix it, and so he sets about to settle down on Gallifrey, but to be very careful not to disturb anything and not too interfere or get involved because of the risk to his own personal timeline. Well, with the Doctor, you can imagine how well that goes. He ends up in a situation where he is piloting one of the very first TARDISes, the Type One. His companion Alice, the librarian, is my favorite companion that Titan has created. The two of them pretend to be married, though let me be clear iyt there’s no romantic thing between the Eleventh Doctor and Alice.
She is a great narrator and captures just a lot of the feeling of what’s going on, and what’s really nice is that towards the end of the Issue the Second Doctor appears to warn her to tell the Eleventh not to fly the TARDIS. It’s a clever way that it’s worked out and just a really nice cameo. The Issue ends though on an ominous note as both the Eleventh Doctor and the TARDIS he was piloting have disappeared. And there is a bit of a difference between the trades and the original release.

The Book One trade actually contains some material that was originally published with the Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension, Special Number Two. First up, you have kind of some backstory on Jenny and how she got there. It’s interesting stuff and a fun read, and then you also have a two-page story on what happens with Alice and her firm resolve to go and find the Doctor. Book Two opens with Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension, Special Number One and it features the Fourth Doctor and Romana, which I don’t believe that pair have actually been featured in comics. It’s the version of Romana that was played by Lalla Ward, and it is a story where they find themselves facing highly weaponized and far more advanced versions of classic Who monsters like The Quarks, The Crotons and The Ogrons. The Ogrons, in fact, are kind of playing on Star Trek, and it kind of gives the writer an attempt to sort of cast some shade over at Star Trek.

It’s a fun Issue; I really like the way the artist is able to capture the spirit of that team, particularly Romana who had such a unique sense of style. And the story is fun. There is a little bit of confusion in there where the doctor uses a parasol that Romana had been carrying to block some weapons being fired. However, when it was scanned and discovered not to be a weapon he ran away and left the parasol behind as if it was useless, and so I found myself wondering, ‘OK, then how did it stop the bullets being fired?’

It’s also revealed in the story that all of these super strong races come from universes where you don’t have the big guns of the Doctor Who Universe such as the Daleks and Cybermen. It implies they would have stamped them out. Now I will say probably the thing I like least about this Special, one thing I don’t like about the story is that essentially in order to scare away all of these advanced versions of weaker classic Who enemies, Romana reveals who it was that defeated all of the Daleks and Cybermen and Sontarans – and of course it was the Doctor, and talking about how magnificent the Doctor is. And really, that’s sort of a new Who idea of doing that – that sort of preening and bragging. And let’s be clear, and knew who it can work every now and again, but it doesn’t really fit with this pair in the TARDIS – particularly Romana who can often take the Doctor down a peg, and even in this Issue she does that. Still it’s got a great design and it was fun to see these super-powered versions of these really weak aliens. Why don’t we get some super-powered versions of The Sensorites, that would have been neat.

Then we have the River Song Story from Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension, Special Number Two and this features River going on an expedition with a student who she tries to keep safe, but she runs into a lot of the problems going on with the universe. The story itself is pretty good and it’s nice to get a look at River’s adventures. The art is often problematic and makes the story harder to follow than it would be otherwise. Still it’s not horrible but the art definitely does take the story down a peg.

And then we get to the final two Issues of the crossover, Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor, Year Three, Number Eight and then Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension: Omega which sees the wrap up of the story. I won’t go into a whole lot of detail on it. The big thing begins when the Twelfth Doctor runs to his TARDIS and finds it’s the Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS, and together the Doctors try to thwart the destruction of the universe, and there are more Doctors coming and going all the time as we get to the conclusion of the story. And finally, in the Omega Issue we learn what’s going on. The actual cause of this is a bit silly but probably not too silly for Doctor Who.

The resolution of the story is about what you would expect, although it’s well done and the art is really nice and captures this better than other multiple Doctor stories like, for example, The Day of the Doctor where they had to use old footage of the classic Doctors who weren’t on the series. If I did have one complaint about the resolution, it’s that the little two-page scene of Alice making this firm resolution and actually fixing TARDIS and flying it to save the Doctor, and resolving that she will find him ends up going nowhere. Her whole task in this is to say, “Hey, I’m stuck in the middle of the ocean; can anyone pick me up?”

Still despite my little nitpicks with it I actually thought The Lost Dimension was an incredibly fun crossover. Not only that, it’s one of the better Doctor Who crossovers done whether on television, audio or comics. It tells an epic story but it also manages to find a way to allow each of the Doctors who are strongly featured – and certainly all of the modern doctors – to show a little bit of what made them heroes, and really allow them to shine. And you also can read a lot of these adventures on their own and enjoy them for what they are.

If you’re a fan of Doctor Who, this is just a fantastic story and it’s well worth reading – the type of story that had me smiling all the way through it because it captured all those things that I really have liked and even enjoyed about Doctor Who. There’s a lot of fan service in here but there’s also a coherent story which is what’s really important. So overall I will give Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension a rating of Classy.

Well that’s all for now. If you do have a comment send it to me: classycomicsguy@gmail.com; follow me on Twitter @ClassyComicsGuy, and be sure and rate the show on iTunes. From Boise, Idaho this is your host, Adam Graham, signing off.

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