Doctor Who: Once Upon A Timelord

Doctor Who: Once Upon A Timelord
Doctor Who Once Upon a Timelord review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Titan Comics - 978-1-7877-3869-0
  • Release date: 2023
  • UPC: 9781787738690
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

The validation for Once Upon a Timelord is allowing one of Marvel’s most creative writers to enjoy himself in the Doctor Who playground, and enjoy himself Dan Slott certainly does over two stories.

A hint of his intentions is provided over Christopher Jones’ gloriously drawn opening spread featuring a panel of every Doctor to that point delivering the same warning to his travelling companions. Unfortunately for Martha Jones, though, the tenth doctor (David Tennant version) doesn’t seem to have completed his warning about the Pyromeths. Jones’ sample art shows Martha heading into trouble.

Inconsistencies abound in ‘Firelight’ if taken at face value, but Slott’s cleverly circumvented that by presenting tales of the Doctor as told by Martha, not the Doctor himself, making any ‘errors’ charming easter eggs in a story littered with references. When Martha’s storytelling begins the art switches from Jones’ very clean approach to the busier and sketchier constructions of Matthew Dow Smith. As the circumstances have changed, what otherwise might be an undesirable stylistic clash isn’t a problem.

Slott sets up and supplies an engaging shaggy dog story enabling him to switch from one adventure to the next and include whatever he wants from the Doctor Who toybox, even if only in passing. He’s shameless about that, and in an interview afterwards admits to treating the story as if it’s the only Doctor Who he’ll ever write.

That’s a theme continued in the shorter ‘Rhyme or Reason’ starring the Christopher Eccleston version of the Doctor accompanied by Rose Tyler. Mike Collins captures the cast likeness well and delivers the action well in what’s a very funny story dependent on smart wordplay.

Both stories emphasise the importance of the Doctor having a companion, highlighting their presence, at least under good writers, being far more than a narrative sounding board. Slott delivers an enjoyable bundle of fun and the artists interpret it stylishly. It’s very good Doctor Who.