Titan Publishing’s range of Doctor Who comics has been chugging along merrily for a few years now. They’ve taken some of the best and brightest from the comics firmament – such as Rachael Stott, Al Ewing, and Nick Abadzis – and crafted stories that get the narrative balance right, in terms of mixing established continuity with completely new elements. I’ve already waxed lyrical on this site about the Third Doctor mini-series, which was one of the best comics of the last few years. However, there is one key element missing from the range, for this fan at least. A certain saturnine gentleman (and more recently, woman) whose influence has been felt in the Doctor Who universe since the early 1970s.
Yes, that’s right. It’s time that the Master took centre-stage and stepped out of the Doctor’s shadow to star in his own comic. This isn’t a particularly original idea. The Master appeared in a Doctor-less novel – The Face of the Enemy by David A. McIntee – in the 1990s, has recently featured (as Missy) in a new anthology of stories, and has starred in audio plays produced by Big Finish. He’s a great character dripping with potential who could easily star in his own stories without the Doctor, as these examples have already shown.
Which incarnation of the Master would the comic feature? Well, we’re lucky enough to have Derek Jacobi reprising his version of the character over at Big Finish. We’ve also seen lots of Missy over the last few years although I always enjoy seeing that Master, so a Missy mini-series would be right up my street. If I were in charge over at Titan, though, I would probably go back to the original version of the Doctor’s best frenemesis (is that even a word? It is now!).
Roger Delgado played the Master from 1971 until 1973, pitting his wits against Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor. He was in every way the Doctor’s equal, although the dynamics of the format (the show is, after all, called Doctor Who rather than Master Who) meant that he had to lose, time and again, sometimes coming across as a bit of a bumbling idiot while doing so. In his own comic, this wouldn’t be a problem as he wouldn’t have a Doctor present to lose to (until the inevitable crossover, of course!). This would give the stories an extra dramatic edge, as there would be some in which the Master prevailed and some in which he didn’t unlike in Doctor Who, in which the Doctor pretty much always saves the day.
I can see it now: the first TV Master in all his glory, gallivanting through time and space in a fully-functioning TARDIS. The narrative possibilities are endless, particularly in a medium where the only budgetary restrictions come from the limits of the various creators’ imaginations.
A comic featuring Delgado’s Master would not simply be an exercise in nostalgia. It would be an opportunity to find fresh possibilities in a much-loved version of the character that, in his time, was more of a co-star than guest-star in Doctor Who. It would also be a further, fitting tribute to the first person to play Moriarty to the Doctor’s Holmes, that wonderfully talented actor, Roger Delgado.