The first issue of Doctor Who: Missy introduces a mischievous and morally ambiguous protagonist with a mysterious scheme and some tenuous alliances.
The Doctors from different eras of Doctor Who have met on numerous occasions, but their nemeses, the Masters, rarely encounter their temporal counterparts. With 2021 marking the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of the Master, Titan Comics has introduced two Masters to one another in Jody Houser and Roberta Ingranata’s Doctor Who: Missy #1.
Houser and Ingranata have worked together on Doctor Who titles before, and their experienced hands are put to good use in this issue which begins in the harsh confines of the Stormcage Containment Facility in the 52nd century, where the Third Doctor has imprisoned the First Master. Missy, impersonating the Doctor, waltzes into the prison and attempts to recruit the original Master, who is detained there, to help her retrieve a fragment of the key to time. The Master is under the impression that the Mistress is the doctor, and so tensions are high, much to Missy’s delight.
Houser’s dialogue is fast-paced and self-aware. She evokes the voices of well-known characters while establishing her own pace. By placing Missy’s Doctor impression at the center of the story, Houser is able to simultaneously celebrate and poke fun at the entire Doctor Who Universe without totally breaking the fourth wall or taking away from the plot. She acknowledges the comic’s source material and proves that she is going to give as much to the world as she takes from it.
Colorist Enrica Eren Angiolini gives Houser room to play with the dialogue by establishing a clear tone with the color palette. The reader is immediately enmeshed in the cold blue hues of the Stormcage Containment Facility. Oftentimes, the glowing bars of the Master’s prison cell are the only light sources. The prison is reflected in the faces of its inmates, and the only escape from these shades of internment can be found on Missy’s outfit. Her vibrant yellow gloves, tie and hatband break free from the light of the prison and give life to Ingranata’s art, which brilliantly juxtaposes the rigid architecture of Stormcage with the campy personalities of the characters.
Missy smirks and sneers her way through this issue guided by a deft and subtle hand. It would be easy for an artist to rely on stiff film stills and photo references, but Ingranata’s line conveys a sense of life and motion unto itself. The first panel of the final action sequence is a simple but effective silhouette. By eliminating all detail from this important moment, Ingranata distills the characters down to the icons that they are while shrouding future events in mystery. The negative space in this scene leaves room for innumerable questions about what might be coming next.
Doctor Who: Missy #1 is a compelling first issue that provides some exposition, but very little concrete information. The reader is given a glimpse of Missy’s scheme, but her true intention remains hidden. The third Doctor makes a brief appearance, but this is clearly Missy’s story, and the masterful pacing in this issue bodes well for its future installments.
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