The Forgotten

The Forgotten written by Tony Lee

Chapter One

I don’t want to be too rude but the first page of The Forgotten has a mystery that far exceeds anything in the Agent Provocateur graphic novel! Visually and dramatically it is a great hook into the story. A museum of alien artefacts reeks of Dalek but has the adverse effect of featuring some wonderful exhibits such as a Voord mask and the guards’ helmets from Underworld! See Gary, this is how you have fun with continuity! There is a special exhibit just for the Doctor featuring all of his clothes over the years – what a marvellous idea (I especially liked Martha’s disbelief at the sixth Doctor’s coat!). Channelling the unpopular eighth Doctor novel The Eight Doctors, the Doctor has lost his memories of everything from before the start of his current regeneration. It looks like the premise of this story is that the Doctor will tell a story from each of his incarnations to regain his memories, using something from the exhibit to give the synapses a little poke. First off we visit the glorious team of the first Doctor Ian, Barbara and Susan and very pleasingly it is not long after the schoolteachers stumbled into the TARDIS. Their interaction is hilarious – they have landed in Egypt and hope that the Doctor is mummified because a) he would be less scary and b) his mouth will be full of rags to shut him up! When the Doctor is introduced to the Pharaoh he says: ‘this is my granddaughter and the other two are busybodies who keep following me around!’ If the dialogue is going to be as good as this we are in for a great ride! ‘Susan since those two arrived all we seem to do is run!’ There is a bearded man behind a bank of controls watching the Doctor and Martha in the museum – could this be the Master? The characterisation of Martha is so much better in this piece, she actually feels like an adult and she refuses to let the Doctor give up even when one of his hearts gives out. There is not an ounce of gushing, which is a blessed relief after the last story arc. Plus I loved the Doctor’s gag ‘Why Ms Jones…’ almost flirtatiously ‘I can see right up your nostrils!’

Seeing all of the Doctor’s costumes with an additional touch for each (brolley, jelly babies, cat badge, etc) is a blast of pure nostalgia and beautifully captured by Pia Guerra. I was grinning from ear to ear! There’s a hilarious THUNK as the Doctor faints before a slapstick Martha. Nothing could have prepared me for the joy of seeing the first Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan huddled together by the TARDIS as a group of spear wielding Egyptians approached them menacingly…in monochrome! Then the scale and awe of them walking from a huge pyramid into the desert. To be able to experience the visual splendour and magic of a Hartnell historical in black and white is simply glorious. I lavished over the pages, taking in every detail. It takes little imagination to bring these excellently drawn images to life into a moving story of the first Doctor and company larking about in the pyramids.

If you thought from this summary of chapter one that I am impressed then you would be right – its pure unadulterated fanwank but written with charm and wit and drawn with such precision and warmth it drew this Doctor Who fan straight in. It took something of a restraint to put the book down and write this because I wanted to keep going. The only reason this first chapter isn’t getting full marks is because I reckon even better is to come: 9/10

Chapter Two

More quality from Tony Lee who gets this nostalgia fest just right because he chooses to tell original stories (unlike The Eight Doctors which pumped for rehashing TV stories) whilst telling an equally intriguing tale for the Tenth Doctor as well. He writes the flashbacks with a real sense of humour and affection of the period which makes the exercise more than just fanwank, it reminds you of the strengths of the different periods in the shows history. Martha’s terrific characterisation continues, reminding the Doctor that there is two Doctor’s in the TARDIS now by beating and kissing back some life into him. When we hop back to a Troughton adventure it is pure season six, a space station, horrid monsters to run away from and the regulars are handled perfectly. The Doctor is a whimsical genius, Jamie is all muscle and distractions and Zoe is a resourceful little madam. They are my next favourite TARDIS crew after the initial set up (well I prefer Vicki to Susan but that’s not relevant) so Tony Lee is choosing his teams well! The Tenth Doctor who is still going through time collecting his memories wonders what kind of lunatic would run around with nitro-glycerine in their backpack – that is a damn good point Ms McShane! The third Doctor story sees our exiled Time Lord sniping with the Brigadier and recent tragic events only serve to make moments like these more treasurable. ‘Rules are made to be broken!’ the Doctor cries – what I like is how Pertwee and Troughton have their characteristics swapped here – the second Doctor is surprisingly thoughtful in his story and the third Doctor is campaigning for chaos! The Brigadier in a moment that might make you scream out loud with joy gets out his ‘sonic screwdriver’, a bazooka and blast one of the metallic spiders to hell! Then Jo (who is constantly surprised at the Doctor’s astonishment at her ability – a lovely touch) takes one down with her compact. Finally the Doctor says ‘we’ll make a scientist out of you yet, Brigadier!’ which makes the military man want to weep! As the Brigadier asks the Doctor to fill out his reports he tells him to stuff it, he’s off for a joyride in Bessie with Jo! This is quality stuff. It almost makes you not care that back in ‘our’ Doctor’s time the TARDIS has been destroyed!

More superb likenesses, Troughton is all clenched jawed and rumpled and Jamie and Zoe (rightly so) look practically edible! Doctor Who in comic form is made for wonderful imagery such as the giant snake wrapped around the space station. Musical notes float through a scene as the Doctor charms the snake monsters with his recorder. There’s a wonderful portrait of the second Doctor in the access tunnel all wild eyed and torch lit. Giant spiders hunt Bessie over the South Downs shooting at her with pink lasers! There’s a very impressively coloured explosion that rocks through the museum and sees the tenth Doctor ducking out of the frame.

As you can tell I am loving this – it’s the best anniversary celebration I have seen since The Five Doctors. IDW have totally made up for their horrendous first graphic novel: 10/10

Chapter Three

Not quite as strong as the first two chapters because the feeling of nostalgia is wearing off ever so slightly and the artwork for this chapter felt…different. Still its still loading with lovely character touches and humour that really elevates the whole story. You forget about how many idiosyncrasies the Doctor has had over the years and I loved the tenth Doctor telling Martha that jelly babies aren’t really him, are they? The 4th Doctor admits that the turn of the millennium is one of his favourite time periods and he has visited almost as often as he has been to the Titanic! I was howling when Romana thought a mime artist had been locked in a cyclonic fone box…and then boggled when he popped into a vortex! The Doctor and Romana in this face of the giant bull are brilliantly characterised, he is pick pocketing whilst being flippant and she has unwavering faith in her ability to get the answer right (she stumbles on the first questions but the Doctor has already half inched the key!). The tenth Doctor thinks back on Romana and says that she did alright for herself until the Time War began which could mean a lot of things to Big Finish and BBC Books fans, depending on your poison. If only the interaction between the fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough had been this fun on screen! ‘I do know about cricket, Turlough. I am from Australia!’ she cries! Turlough wants to run and hide under the console and the Doctor has a wonderful moment where he is all defiant confidence in front of the Judoon until they all arm themselves and then he is all ‘welcome to Earth, how may I help you?’ There was a moment when Tegan had a gun to her head and I was screaming ‘Shoot her!’ at the book.

So whilst it is still very enjoyable to read the artwork felt really off here – is this a different artist? I’m really not sure about how Tennant is depicted in this chapter, at times his quiff and scruffy sideburns make him look like Elvis! Romana looks a bit gormless in her section and (perish the thought!) the 4th Doctor looks like an ordinary bloke! However its not all bad…the image that opens the chapter with the tenth and 5th Doctor playing cricket on the moon whilst the 4th Doctor spectates sitting on top of the TARDIS is pure lunacy and unforgettable! The frame where Romana shouts ‘there, Doctor – mime!’ at the mime artist that is tip toeing around the corner sums up their whacky adventures together perfectly. I showed my hubbie the picture of the giant spider with glowing red eyes and dripping fangs and his verdict was ‘that’s disgusting!’ There’s a fine action shot showing the journey of a cricket ball leaving the Doctor’s hand, hitting the bat and flying off into the distance. Remember what I said about the 4th Doctor looking ordinary well I guess the whole point of the 5th Doctor was that he was ordinary looking and so his likeness is pretty good! Not sure about Tegan though, her spiky hair makes her look like a scary dyke! It must be the Master behind all this I tell you – there’s a frame showing him in the darkness with glowing eyes and a bristling beard. The last image is a really strong hook into the next chapter with lots of icky spiders converging on Martha!

Pick pocketing and cricket ball swaps, these Doctors are a sneaky bunch! Very enjoyable: 8/10

Chapter Four

Deary me there are just too many clever and wonderful moments packed into this story. For a start there are many illusions to the fact that this story takes place after Donna has left the Doctor (‘there is something on your back’) but Martha is still with him. The sixth Doctor segment is an absolute delight, probably the best since the we visited the Pyramids with the first Doctor. Peri has been framed for murder and naturally the Doctor is her dominating defending lawyer! The sixth Doctor is extremely modest about his abilities as a genius and an expert in such things! ‘I will not have theatrics in my courtroom!’ shouts the judge as the Doctor shockingly pulls a gun out on one of the witnesses. ‘Then you better leave, your honour, because I’m just getting started!’ he says with some glee! I love his double bluff, having worked out that the gun they were working out fired insubstantial bullets into it reached its intended victim…and the Doctor threatens to shoot Peri with it! Then we learn that it wasn’t that gun after all so I the guy hadn’t have confessed he would have had to have actually shot her! I loved the summary of his character as a modest amount of amazingness and a lot of bluff and bluster. Tellingly he says he doesn’t want to be in another courtroom for another couple of regenerations (gulp). Unfortunately the seventh Doctor isn’t characterised quite as strongly but then there aren’t many definable traits to grab hold of with his character like there are with Colin’s blustering sixth. The story of the Doctor and Ace on the trail of Gallifreyan weapons lacks humour or any decent twists and proves to be the blandest of the bunch, I would say. However the main storyline more than compensates when we discover to our amazement that the Doctor isn’t even in the museum but on the floor of the TARDIS being worked on by a horrid giant scorpion!

Look at that spider on Martha’s back, it brings back instant memories of Planet of the Spiders. There’s a great action shot as the Doctor tosses the sonic screwdriver crystal out of the frame towards the reader. The sixth Doctor blazes into the story all colour and bombast and fiery blond curls. He was made for comic books, I swear. I loved the page showing the sixth Doctor up to some industrial espionage, its an enticing look into another sort of story I wish we could have had on TV. Its odd that the artist should make Peri look so gorgeous and feminine and yet Ace winds up ill defined and very butch looking! There’s a great shot of Ace tossing Nitro Nine out of the page. There’s an ominous DONG DONG DONG of the cloister bell in the last few pages and I squealed out loud at the sight of Voc Robots and Clockwork soldiers! The last page has some exceptional artwork with real depth and warm colouring and leaving me hungry for the next instalment.

One fantastic flashback and one so-so one but with a framing story that is getting more gripping and full of intriguing mysteries to be answered, The Forgotten continues to excite: 8/10

Chapter Five

This is the chapter that surprised me the most with two of the shortest running Doctor’s – in terms of television exposure – both getting a sparkling little tale that enriches their era and a barrage of enjoyable twists at the end of the chapter. Like Agent Provocateur enhanced the year five billion here we have a return appearance of one of the Conglomeration from Utopia. The Doctor admits that he once convinced his greatest enemy that he was half human – proof if it was needed that he was making it up in The TV Movie. This story seems like a throwaway adventure until we realise he is looking for a component of a DeMat gun because one day soon he might have to create something that removes millions from time and space at once and lock them in Medusa Cascade! Now that is what I call exploiting the shows rich tapestry to shock your audience. This is as close to seeing the eighth Doctor during the Time War days that we have ever seen. The tenth admits that he started and ended his eighth incarnation alone. He saw Gallifrey sacrificed, burned when the Cruciform fell and he turned the key and doomed them all. Again the ninth Doctor tale looks like a throwaway visit to the First World War until we realise why he has brought Rose here and he has managed to start a footie match between the English and the Germans for one fantastic Christmas during all the madness. Once we return to the main story we discover that Martha has been the TARDIS trying to aid the Doctor all along and that the bearded man following the Doctor’s progress is not the Master but the meta crisis Doctor from Journey’s End! Shit, bollocks, bugger – how cool are these twists?

The eighth Doctor beaten in a cell with radioactive sunlight spilling through the window is an evocative image. He looks wild haired and Byronesque, every inch the romantic hero. There’s another powerful frame of the Doctor silhouetted against the burnt sunlight tinged windows. I really like the ninth Doctor and Rose in Word War I trench coats but more often than not their likenesses make them look like mannequins! The page depicting the football match is loaded with sentiment and the whole sequence has bleached out colours to give the atmosphere a respectfully grim look. There is a gorgeous drawing as light tears from the chameleon arch and bursts into some of the tenth Doctor’s most memorable memories.

Shocking, emotional and racing towards an unforgettable climax; this story gets better and better: 10/10

Chapter Six

Madness would be the only way to describe this concluding segment with Tony Lee merrily throwing in pretty much every other companion of note that we haven’t already seen in this miniseries! I really enjoyed how the tenth Doctor mocked his alter ego with the crap beard and the crap name (the Valeyard indeed!), poor Mr Es’cartrss of Tactire is running short on originality! The observation of ‘don’t you ever stop talking?’ to the tenth Doctor made me howl with laughter. So did ‘why are we running?’ ‘Because they’re scary!’ It warmed my heart to think that the TARDIS is taking on the guises of various companions to aid the Doctor. First the beard, then the toys – this evil Doctor really wants to find another mentor other than the Master! I howled with laughter as he was destroyed screaming ‘I’m melting! What a world!’ When the Doctor’s all come face to face there are a number of fun interactions across the regenerations but I was especially tickled by the seventh Doctor’s ‘of course it was, you’re very important. Well done!’ to the sixth Doctor. You’ve never felt such a bond between the Doctor and the TARDIS and he asks one final thing of the old girl before resuming his travels and that is to see his dear Susan again which of course she arranges. I was giggling like a school kid looking at porn at the Doctor’s ‘Little squiddy no mates!’ at the Tactire!

Its one blast from the past after another in this climactic instalment. Its lovely to see Harry again and I’m sure for those of you who appreciate this sort of thing Leela looks practically edible! Unfortunately the first drawing of Mel makes her look cross eyed. Kamelion has a fight with a Voc Robot – my God could this get anymore fanwanky? Sarah Jane looks more vibrant than ever and they’ve made Adric look way more cute than he actually was! There’s a marvellously coloured explosion that throws the Doctor across the room. Nothing could have prepared me for the sight of the ten Doctor’s standing together over a two page spread – I got goosebumps and longed to have this enlarged as a poster for my study. The bearded tenth Doctor melted is…icky: 9/10

Frankly I don’t actually feel as though The Forgotten needed a particularly great conclusion because it had provided such a great ride throughout and whilst the explanations are acceptable they are kind of perfunctory compared to the nostalgia fest that is going on. This was a hugely enjoyable piece of work overall with tempting glimpses into stories we never saw and gorgeous reminders of how each era of Doctor had a unique and wonderful style of its own. We visited a whole array of different times and places and the individual segments are packed with humours and delightful little observations. As a comic book celebration of the series there is none finer that I have read and the overall piece is bursting with visual splendour and imaginative artwork.

IDW, you’ve made up for Agent Provocateur and then some – make sure you keep it up!

Overall: 9/10