Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fanholes Side Story #13 Doctor Who VS Jack The Ripper

'Ripper’s Curse' is a three part story that runs through issue #2-4 of IDW’s ongoing Doctor Who series. Our story begins with the Tardis landing in London, 1888. The Doctor ventures out and quickly finds that things are not as they seem. After detecting radiation that should not be present in Victorian era London he leaves Amy and Rory, his current companions, to investigate on their own. Amy finally puts things together and realizes they are in the middle of the Jack The Ripper murders. Furthermore, she figures out that they have arrived on the night of the double murders and takes off in an attempt to save the second victim.

The Doctor tracks the source of the radiation, which is actually a person using a shimmer suit, a kind of camouflage that allows him to look human. Amy arrives too late though, as the second victim has been killed. She finds a lizard like alien standing over the body and is hit with a paralyzing dart. The Doctor arrives and is discovered standing over the body of Amy by the police, who arrest him for being Jack The Ripper.

As issue three begins Rory and Detective Abberline arrive and have the Doctor set free. The Doctor is surprised to see that Abberline is not taken in by the psychic paper. Psychic Paper is something the Doctor frequently uses to go anywhere and investigate. It projects whatever credentials he needs for any situation. The alien is, the Doctor suspects, a Ju’Wes Hunter. Anyone who knows the details of the Ripper case will see this as a clever way to tie directly into the facts of actual history. Which, pays off when we see...

Later, the Tardis crew discuss saving the Ripper’s final victim. The Doctor is very much against saving her, something that Amy and Rory don’t understand. This is a nice discussion of how the Doctor can seemingly alter time, yet on the same hand adhere to not changing fixed moments in time. As we've seen in the series, anytime a fixed moment in time is altered it usually has dire consequences.

Amy disregards everything the Doctor says and tries to warn Mary, the final victim, that she will be killed by the Ripper. Mary simply laughs it off, thinking herself an unlikely victim. The Doctor then travels a few weeks into the future when Mary will be killed, only to find that the wrong Mary has been murdered. Amy did change time and now anything can happen. Issue three ends with Amy being captured by the Ripper.

Issue four opens in the present day as the Doctor and Rory attend a tour of one of the Ripper murder sites. The tour guide tells them that Amelia Marple, the fake name Amy gave to the police, was killed after Mary. They immediately hop back in the Tardis to stop Amy's death. Back in 1888 Amy wakes up in the basement of a house, a captive of the Ripper. The other Mary is there, the one that should have died but didn’t. Eventually Amy and Mary are able to escape from the house and The Ripper faces his hunter. The hunter is also an alien who has been tracking the Ripper. The Ripper is an alien war criminal and is doing these murders in order to blame them on the Ju’Wes. He sees them as monsters who committed atrocities against his people.

Eventually, both aliens are pulled into a rift and blown into space. In the end the Tardis crew travel to present day London. Time has changed, as Amy is no longer listed as a Ripper victim and the Mary that should have died lived on borrowed time, having died a year later. Time, the Doctor tells us, has set things right.

These three issues are fairly simple, yet fun. Having always been fascinated by the Ripper case myself, I can appreciate what the writer was trying to do here. We get references to 'From Hell', not only the film but the graphic novel as well. Amy and Rory identify themselves as Inspector Clouseau and Miss Marple of CSI. I do wish the idea of the Doctor being mistaken for Jack The Ripper had been exploited a bit more.

An interesting side note is that a recent episode of Doctor Who, 'A Good Man Goes To War', actually made a reference to the Ripper murders. This reference actually negates the comic story. Doctor Who cannon is somewhat tricky. You have audio stories and comics and novels that often conflict with one another. Though sometimes the show will reference these stories. Unlike Star Trek, where none of the comics or novels are cannon.

The only negative thing I have to say about these comics is the art. It is simple and does suit a Ripper tale...but I’m not sure it suits a Doctor Who comic. It reminds me of artwork from the Topps X-Files comics. Those comics were somewhat notorious for bad artwork. Though here, the Doctor, Amy and Rory at least like they should.

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