THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE TV
STEFANO MARTINO &
IDW GRAPHIC NOVEL
64) RELEASED IN APRIL
The Doctor finds
in a strange museum
dedicated to himself!
He'S also hindered by
one small fact - he
has lost his memories
of ALL his previous
At last, I’ve managed to get hold of this, IDW’s second comic strip serial. Tony Lee has provided this story for the show’s forty-fifth anniversary, but a monthly release schedule
takes a while to come to completion, and getting hold of it in the UK can take even longer. In future, I may well just stick to the tried and tested method of waiting for the trade paperback, but for now, I’m very pleased that I’ve gotten hold of this.
As with previous anniversary celebrations across the media, what we have here is a bundle of Doctors – all ten of them, in fact. Lee has avoided a Five Doctors-style team-up, however, or a trip to previous adventures along the lines of The Eight Doctors. Instead, The Forgotten takes the form of a framing story featuring the tenth Doctor, peppered with flashbacks to all new adventures featuring the previous incarnations.
Part 1, Amputation, opens in beautiful style, with the Doctor lying prone on a mosaic floor, before waking up to find himself in a museum with Martha. This is all gorgeously illustrated by Pia Guerra, a very in vogue artist who sadly had to pull out of the full run due to personal problems. I have to say, she is missed in later instalments. The covers are also stunning – each showing an invented scene featuring the tenth Doctor and his predecessors from the current issue, with the exception of Ben Templesmith’s artier cover for issue six - unless you get hold of the ‘retailer incentive’ versions – although what is supposed to be an incentive about a generic publicity photo I fail to see.
The first instalment continues with the Doctor and Martha wandering around the museum – something which is far more interesting than it sounds. Lee captures both the leads very
well, especially the verbose tenth Doctor, who remains highly emotional but never over the top. The museum holds exhibits from all over the Universe, many of them strikingly familiar (yay for the Voord helmet!) but the biggest shock to our heroes is the room that acts as an exhibition on the Doctor himself, revealed in a gorgeous double page spread showing each of the Doctor’s outfits displayed with a significant item (the first Doctor’s staff, the second’s recorder, etc). Yet someone is watching the Doctor, and at the flick of a switch, causes him to collapse, losing all of his memories prior to his most recent regeneration. And this is only by page seven. Martha takes control of the situation, suggesting that the Doctor regains his memories by handling the aforementioned items, seeing if they trigger any recollection.
This leads into the flashback sequences. For this issue, we get a flashback to an adventure for the first Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara in ancient Egypt. It’s a great slice of old-school historical storytelling, in which the travellers become embroiled in the intrigues of Pharaoh Menkaure’s court. Although the artwork remains excellent, in sepia-tinged black and white, the characterisation is a little off, especially Ian and Barbara, who don’t sound right at all. Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable, if necessarily brief, tale. Jumping back to the present, the Doctor has now regained the memories of his first life, but no sooner has he got back to
his feet than his mysterious bearded adversary has dropped him again, stopping one of
his hearts in an attempt to force a regeneration. The presence of a classic cliffhanger at
the end of each issue is an excellently enjoyable touch.
Part 2, Renewal, focuses less on the tenth Doctor’s side of things, devoting more time
to flashbacks. These aren’t as diverting as the previous tale. We have a base-under-siege story for the second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, in which they defend a space station from attack by some rather cool looking alien snake-men, which are under the thrall of a vast space wyrm. The third Doctor’s segment sees him up against an alien incursion in the
Home Counties. The Doctor, Jo and the Brigadier drive into the fray in Bessie, sorting
out the invaders (some kind of greyhounds in mechanical spider-tanks) in extremely short order. Both tales are extremely slight, with the third Doctor’s story particularly unsatisfying. The characterisation is poor in this segment, and for the first time I have an issue with Guerra’s artwork, which looks nothing like the actors – I don’t whinge about not having
exact photo-likenesses, but I expect it to look at least roughly like the characters. This
issue ends back in the museum, with an Auton exhibit reactivating and attacking, and
the revelation that the TARDIS is undetectable – and therefore destroyed.
Part 3, Misdirection, sees Guerra depart for the time being, with Stefano Martino taking
over as artist. Now, I really like his style, but then again, he struggles to make his characters look like the actors. With the tenth Doctor and Martha this isn’t such a problem – he seems to nail the characters in essence, if not in physical likeness – and his fifth Doctor team isn’t bad, but his fourth Doctor and Romana look totally wrong. His giant spiders are impressive though (I’ll come back to them). The fourth Doctor segment sees our favourite two Time Lords back in Paris (“Weren’t we JUST here?” complains Romana), this time in the year 2000, facing a evil mime artist and a beret-wearing Minotaur named Taureau, who seems
to have taken tips from the Sphinx and is setting his victims riddles prior to devouring them. No, I wasn’t expecting that either. It’s a slim, batty tale, but highly enjoyable in its oddness.
The fifth Doctor’s tale is equally whimsical, seeing his cricket match interrupted by a platoon of Judoon. Tegan and Turlough are threatened if the Doctor does not hand over a powerful alien device. There’s not much to this story, but there’s nevertheless a pleasant feeling to be gained from seeing a classic Doctor face a new series monster. Back in the present, the tenth Doctor is realising that these stories mean something other than simply as memories.
These tales are all about acts of misdirection, and the Autons were surely used to lead him away from something. The mysterious villain decides that the Doctor is getting too close to the truth, and releases the aforementioned giant spiders (of Metebelis 3, natch). Cue classic cliffhanger image: Martha facing spiders with a baseball bat.
Part 4, Survival, sees Kelly Yates and Pia Guerra on art duties. The sixth Doctor section sees him in court, but this time, it’s Peri who’s on trial. Charged with first degree murder by
a court of aliens (looks like some might be the Catkind from the new show, but I’m not sure), it’s up to the Doctor to prove her innocence. Both regulars are portrayed well in both writing and artwork, and the story suits the sixth Doctor well, allowing him plenty of shouty objections (“You can’t object, Doctor – the trial hasn’t even started yet!”).
The seventh Doctor’s segment
is rather more subdued, taking
the serial on a turn for the more
serious. The Doctor and Ace
are on Agrovan 7, a world torn
apart by civil war. If this were
not bad enough, someone has introduced a Gallifreyan virus onto one of the factions, hoping to turn the tide in the war. The Doctor sets about delivering the cure – war is bad enough, but he certainly won’t see one side exterminated in favour of the other. It’s an action-packed story, and very effective, and shows how, in the Doctors later life, Gallifrey is becoming more involved in the Universe, and the Doctor is ever more embroiled in conflict. For the tenth Doctor, things are moving in fits and starts. “You should have left me on the Crucible, Doctor,” mutters his mysterious enemy, before leasing a Voc Robot and a Clockwork Man on him. But the cliffhanger is the pull back reveal – the Doctor isn’t in a museum at all – he’s unconscious on the floor of the TARDIS, with something very nasty clasping onto his chest.
Part 5, Revelation, is Guerra’s final issue. The Doctor is now becoming very suspicious. Things aren’t making sense. Martha knows more than she should, and now that his own memories are returning, there are some major inconsistencies. It seems that not only has
he forgotten his past, but also his future, and it becomes clear that this is set beyond the 2008 series. The story is becoming more serious, and this is reflected in the flashbacks – easily the two best in the run. A perfectly realised eighth Doctor sits alone in a PoW cell, joined in short order by another prisoner, Chantir – one of Chantho’s people, the Malmooth. Although the Doctor seems beaten, he’s simple biding his time, waiting for a craft to arrive before he escapes from his cell. This is a very serious, surprisingly violent eighth Doctor,
and it becomes clear why: this war is Time War. It may go unnamed, there may not be any Daleks about, but it’s clear. Now for a hardcore fan (and who else is this serial aimed at?) this is terribly exciting. It’s the first confirmation that the eighth Doctor fought in the War (although we don’t know if he regenerated prior to its conclusion), plus the first real look at how it ended. For the Doctor is here to collect the Great Key, and use it in the construction
of a vastly powerful DeMat gun…
The Time War comes back to the tenth Doctor, and we flash back to an adventure of his ninth self with Rose. Here, the travellers arrive in the trenches in 1914 – Christmas Day, in fact. I’m sure the Doctor’s visited here before, but this time, we see he’s responsible for the legendary football match truce. He even acts as referee. It’s a beautiful little story, and it’s proximity to the Time War story adds further poignancy for the Doctor. He suits a trenchcoat, too. It’s not all doom and gloom, here – the eighth Doctor gets a great line that threatens to totally retcon the TV Movie, while the ninth narrowly misses one Captain Jack Harkness.
Still, the more serious side is welcome here, adding something to the proceedings other than a sense of birthday party silliness.
So, we return to the present once again, to find the tenth Doctor regaining his full memories. Turns out he’s inside the TARDIS Matrix, all that remains of the once great Matrix of Gallifrey. And we finally discover who’s behind it all, so this is where things get spoilery…
… it’s the other tenth Doctor! The half-human clone, looking good all in black, wants the Doctor’s regenerations! What a fabulous cliffhanger… which is what makes Part 6 such a bloody disappointment.
The final instalment, Reunion, starts with the two Doctors at loggerheads, but by page two, it’s all spoilt. He’s not the Doctor at all, but Es’Cartrss, last survivor of Calufrax Minor. This was, if you recall, one of the twenty-seven planets taken by Davros (and not the same planet as Calufrax from The Pirate Planet, apparently). This is the insectile creature that has linked with the Doctor. He demands revenge – the Doctor saved the humans on the Crucible, but what of the non-humanoids? Es’Cartrss makes a fair point. Still, that doesn’t make up for
the shameful false cliffhanger to Part 5. That’s not misdirection, that’s just cheating, and the whole regeneration thing makes no sense any more.
The story takes a turn to a frantic race against time, as the Doctor and Martha try to escape from the Matrix. There is a wonderful revelation here – it’s not Martha at all, but the TARDIS, the Doctor’s oldest and most loyal companion. From then on, she takes the form of virtually every companion not yet featured in the serial, in a constant fanwanky barrage. This all the final confrontation with our arthropod foe, in which the Doctor summons up his previous nine selves to face him. It’s a grand double page spread – it’s just a shame Kelly Yates can’t manage better likenesses of the various Doctors. In the end, Es’Cartrss dribbles away to nothingness, and it’s all over. Well, not quite. There’s a lovely moment where the Doctor asked the TARDIS to take the form of Susan, so that he can finally say goodbye properly. Then he and his oldest friend set off for new adventures.
Now, I’ve come across as pretty harsh above. The Forgotten is a great read, doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. It’s a fun adventure for the anniversary, designed to appeal to the fans, and this is precisely what we get. It’s just a shame that the final instalment doesn’t live up to the promise of the serial as whole, particularly the excellent fifth part. But there are any number of serials guilty of just the same. It detracts little from the overall fun of this story. It’s not something that could be done very often, but it’s a great little treat for the fans.
Copyright © Daniel Tessier 2009
Daniel Tessier has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
The framing story for The Forgotten takes place just after the episode Journey's End. However, there's not much evidence to indicate where the Doctor's various flashback adventures take place in his life. Using the little evidence that we have, we suggest the following placements:
The first Doctor's story occurs between The Sorceror's Apprentice and The Keys of Marinus.
The second Doctor's story occurs between The Krotons and The Seeds of Death.
The third Doctor's takes place between The Magician's Oath and Day of the Daleks.
The fourth Doctor's lies between The Creature from the Pit and The Romance of Crime.
The fifth Doctor's occurs between The King of Terror and Frontios.
The sixth Doctor's lies between The Mark of the Rani and Players.
The seventh Doctor's takes place between Silver Nemesis and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.
The eighth Doctor's is set at some point during the Last Great Time War, late in his life.
The ninth Doctor's story takes place between The Long Game and Father's Day.
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