THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
COMIC STRIP "THE TIME
Eric J (Rex Mundi)
IDW GRAPHIC NOVEL
RELEASED IN JULY 2009
(NORTH AMERICA ONLY).
The Doctor lands at
the scene of a murder
on a space station in
the middle of deep
space. He must use
every ounce of his
incredible mind to
discover the truth
from the sole suspect,
whose species lives
against the natural
flow of time...
“Warning: Parts of this comic may read better backward rather than forward.”
That’s the footnote on the first page of this one-off, and it’s certainly accurate. Fortunately,
I’m quite good with timey-wimey stories, so having certain elements working in the opposite direction to the norm doesn’t worry me. I still had to read the middle pages a couple of times though…
Rich Johnston provides a very clever story for us here, a good, old-fashioned slice of proper science fiction. At the same time, it feels like a proper Doctor Who story, rather than just a science fiction tale with the Doctor shoehorned in. It’s also something of a murder mystery - although, the mystery isn’t in the whodunnit, but the why-dunnit.
The Doctor arrives on an isolated
space station, and is soon recruited
by Mozz and Looz, who are investi-
gating a murder. The two “gasbags
from Gallubitas Xenax” are really
great characters; friendly, intelligent
coppers who just happen to be tentacled green dirigibles (great work by artist Eric J). The murder has been committed by TX, a Counter - a species who live through time in the opp-osite direction to all the rest of the species in the Galaxy. “We know he did it,” says Mozz, “We just don’t know why. We just can’t… talk to him.”
For the Counters, death is birth and vice versa, and they can no more change their future than we can change our past. TX’s sudden, violent actions make perfect sense from his point of view. Mozz and Looz just need to know the full story, to get a confession, although they will be forced to execute him if they do, which explains why TX keeps calling Mozz ‘mother.’ As Time Lord, the Doctor is more qualified to talk to an alien moving backward through time than anyone else, but it’s still beyond his natural comprehension. So he uses the TARDIS to hop back and forth during his interrogation. As such, he gradually pieces
the puzzle together - and this part really does make more sense when read backwards.
If there’s a quibble, it’s that TX’s actual speech is forwards, just with each spoken passage preceding its logical successor. Frankly, that’s confusing enough for most people, and we can put the disparity down to some kind of translation. It would also have been nice to learn
more about the mysterious plague that has isolated this community of aliens. Nonetheless, this is an excellent, intelligent story, trying something a little different with this phenomally long-lived franchise.
Copyright © Daniel Tessier 2010
Daniel Tessier has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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