Review by Ian Keogh
The Doctor, David Tennant version, awakens in a museum displaying a lot of objects he’s very familiar with, but he can’t remember how he got there, nor why Martha Jones is there with him.
The Forgotten is writer Tony Lee’s device for stringing together short stories about each of the Doctor’s previous incarnations, and the clever aspect is that each brief anecdote provides a clue prompting further memories. Lee has a good ear for the dialogue of the various Doctors and their assistants, and deserves credit for accentuating the capabilities of the earliest female assistants. He reminds us that Zoe Heriot has a mathematics degree and Jo Grant was a trained agent, acknowledgement they rarely received in the era they appeared, and a lot of playful aspects occur in his script. A neat touch is presenting the adventures of the first two Doctors in black and white, as they would have been seen on TV at the time, switching to colour for the Jon Pertwee version. He also has earlier Doctors meeting enemies not seen in the TV adventures until the 21st century.
Pia Guerra (sample art) supplies decent enough likenesses of the Doctors she illustrates, but that’s not a strength of other artists Stefano Martino and Kelly Yates, whose Doctors would be unrecognisable without their distinctive costumes. In Yates’ case the exception is Tennant, but he seems to have drawn many of his pages at the wrong size, requiring substantial black borders around them, which is wasteful. Guerra is the star turn, with more mood and imagination about what she does, but her design for the area where many scenes take place prioritises not having to draw very much.
Lee’s plot trots along nicely as long as the mystery is perpetuated, and he takes a joy in misdirection regarding who we all think is behind what’s happening. His stories of the older Doctors are charming, but the climax depends too much on technobabble, each supposed explanation leading to verbal nonsense. He does include a good final word about the assistants, though, and he should receive some credit for two ideas that later manifested in the TV series. Given the timing, it’s probably down to coincidence that Neil Gaiman came up with a very similar idea in one of his TV episodes, but Lee’s story was already out there when Peter Capaldi’s Doctor had a big emotional moment in the same World War I moment Lee uses.
With more imaginative art overall The Forgotten could have made a greater impression, but the interludes are better than the main story.