The wonder of comics is that with a halfway decent artist they can achieve what a special effects budget or a cast budget running into tens of millions of dollars can’t. Like convincingly incorporating all eleven Doctors (to that point) in a single story also featuring all their companions, and all looking like they were back in the day.

Some artists are more concerned about exact likenesses than others, but Simon Fraser’s more sketchy impressionism works as well as Gary Erskine’s greater precision (sample art right) or the more naturalistic look of Lee Sullivan (sample art left). Mike Collins has drawn various Doctors for years, but here takes on the third Doctor, dating from before his artistic career began, the pleasure evident in the art. In subsequent volumes there’s also the joy of seeing a return for artists who drew a particular Doctor’s adventures back in the day.

Writers Scott and David Tipton, never credited in alphabetical order, deserve recognition alone for capturing the essential personalities created by each of the actors to have played the Doctor, from William Hartnell’s imposing and studious version to the more whimsical methods of Tom Baker and Patrick Troughton. They achieve far more than that, though, involving each in an adventure suitable to their era, dropping in several old foes, some obscure, some not, amid good creations of their own such as the Remoraxians. That the stories are true to the characters means they offer considerable variety, and the authors are generally very good at concealing their surprises. The shock use of the Ice Warriors and a train both work as planned. Other problems are solved by the polarised methods of random violence and shrewd intuition. Beyond that there are the continually nice little touches showing an understanding of the characters being used. K-9 teaching Leela algebra is one example.

What connects the four stories offered here is a mysterious adversary abducting each doctor’s helpers, having deduced that his strength lies in never being isolated. It’s a theory that’ll have to wait until the climax in volume three for confirmation, as will this person’s identity, although many fans will be able to take a shrewd guess. Will they be right, though?

Complicated licensing arrangements mean that this book is technically unavailable in the UK, but Titan published the entire story in their Doctor Who Archives series, which is more satisfactory anyway. It’s also available as a complete collection from IDW in North America.