Once Upon a Time Lord

By Dan Slott

Once Upon a Time Lord, a novel by Dan Slott
Book details Books in the series

Any Doctor Who fan knows that this year is a big anniversary for the series and there is so much content coming that even the wider community may be aware that the Doc is turning 60. How do you stand out from the new books, audio series and episodes all incoming around the festive period? Perhaps a joyous graphic novel will peak a fan’s interest? Doctor Who: Once Upon a Time Lord may be short but is great fun. 

The Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones have landed on a planet that hosts a weekly carnival. The Doctor likes to visit as it has a drink that tastes just like Ginger Beer. Can you imagine how improbable that is lightyears from Earth? The Pyromeths are at the fair for a different reason. They are looking for tellers of tales and when Martha wanders by, they capture her. She must entertain them with a series of stories, each one more unexpected and exciting than the last, or she will die. Can Martha keep the Pyromeths listening long enough for the Doctor to rescue her? 

Dan Slott is a renowned comic writer and Once is their first foray into the world of Who but will not be the last. You can tell from the opening sequence that this is a writer who is a fan of the show and who knows how to design a graphic novel. We are given a glimpse of the various incarnations of the Doctor all telling their new companions about what to do if they should ever be captured by the Pyromeths. Fast forward to the Tenth Doctor and the very occurrence itself. 

Just getting a glimpse of the One through to Nine is a joy. Like children, we should not have our favourites, but I do have a big soft spot for Ten. Slott with the aid of artists Christopher Jones and Matthew Dow Smith capture the charisma of the Doctor, he acts and sounds right. The comic takes the form of an anthology as Martha tells a series of linked tales to her captures. The story leaps back and forth between the storyteller and the story. This is shown by the different artwork. A clever way of keeping the reader informed where they are. When a character can travel across time and space in an instant, it can be confusing if done poorly. 

Slott brings his experience and intelligence to the graphic novel. This is a special and he creates it as one, a complete tale across one book. There are even intelligent twists and reveals for the reader. You are invited to question what are tall tales and what is real. It is up to you to decide if the Doctor’s adventures this time happened. You will have a fun time whether they are hogwash or not. 

As an additional treat you also get a short Ninth Doctor adventure with Rose. Once again Slott captures the darker and slight manic tone of this Doctor, ably drawn by Mike Collins on this occasion. This is a fun little adventure that has a nice joke at the end. A wonderful amuse-bouche to finish proceedings. 

The graphic novel is full colour and currently presented in hardback. It is a collector’s item for a Who fan. The quality of the story is high and holds up well. Slott is obviously skilled in the format as they produce a coherent and entertaining story in a limited set of pages. There is even room for a few surprises. Happy Birthday Doctor Who, this is the type of gift that you would be happy to receive.  

Written on 7th November 2023 by .

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