Doctor Who: Missy – “The Master Plan”

DW - Missy 1a

Written by: Jody Houser
Art by: Roberta Ingranata

Chronology Placement: Set after “The Eaters of Light

This Graphic Novel collects the following stories:

  • Doctor Who: Missy # 1 – 4

Set shortly before the Season Ten finale, this mini-series explores the Twelfth Doctor’s attempts to rehabilitate Missy ahead of her ill-fated trial run at an adventure with Nardole and Bill in “World Enough and Time” and “The Doctor Falls”. Tasked with finding the Key to Time, Missy poses as ‘Doctor Who’ to get help from her former incarnation known as ‘the UNIT Master’ – resulting in a wonderful tour of her previous lives as well as a brief glimpse into her future. It’s a great way to celebrate fifty years since the first appearance of the Master in “Terror of the Autons”, whilst somewhat mirroring the multi-Doctor antics of the series’ own 50th anniversary episode, “The Day of the Doctor”.

The Master has always been one of the series’ most enduring villains, providing a Moriarty to the Doctor’s Sherlock Holmes, and the gender-switch to Missy resulted in a whole new interpretation of the character during the Twelfth Doctor’s era. While “The Doctor Falls” provided audiences with the first multi-Master story in the show’s televised history between the Harold Saxon Master and Missy, the medium of comics allows writer Jody Houser to unite Missy with the classic incarnation of the Master played by the late Roger Delgado. Pairing these two together is a dream come true and Houser’s dialogue sparkles throughout as the two trade barbs, especially with the added context of Missy posing as the Doctor.

DW - Missy 1b

Houser’s dialogue is one of her biggest strengths as a writer as she is able to effectively communicate the voice of the characters and the actors’ performances. Her take on Missy is brilliant, capturing Michelle Gomez’s idiosyncrasies and unique cadence, whilst her interpretation of Roger Delgado’s Master is just as measured and wry as his performance was. The script has lots of cameos – particularly of previous Master incarnations, with some deep cuts in Doctor Who continuity that demonstrate Houser’s love for the series and its history. The plot itself is relatively thin on the ground and serves primarily to bring the two incarnations of the Master together and on a This is Your Life journey through the timeline. It felt a bit incomplete at times too, with no real explanation for why the Doctor needed Missy to retrieve the key (presumably as a test) and why Missy needed the Master to help locate it – again, possibly a test on the Doctor’s part to see if she’d revert to evil.

Roberta Ingranata has been an absolute delight on the Thirteenth Doctor comic, and this mini-series is no exception. Despite the fresh cast of characters from different eras of the show, she has no trouble in bringing Missy and the UNIT Master to life on the page. Her style is wonderfully expressive and maintains the look of the actors without being too photo-realistic and static – there’s a fluidity to her work that gives it motion and prevents it from feeling too stilted. Her panel placement is also extremely dynamic with some beautiful designs, such as when Missy is walking the corridors of the Stormcage facility and the segments of her open umbrella reflect the faces of the various incarcerated aliens. Ingranata also has the opportunity to revisit scenes from classic episodes such as “The Magician’s Apprentice” and “The End of Time”, recreating them perfectly as part of Missy and the Master’s jaunt through their own timeline.

DW - Missy 1c

A whistle-stop tour through multiple eras of the series, “The Master Plan” is a joyous celebration of all-things The Master as the creative team continue to bring their A-game to the book. Jody Houser has a knack for making the most of these match-ups that would be impossible to produce in real life, creating these amazing moments that fans have dreamed to see. Her ability to write engaging and authentic dialogue enhances the story greatly, making these stories feel like lost scripts for the TV show itself. Sure, the plot is a bit flimsy and doesn’t bear too much close scrutiny, but to be quite honest, that’s the case with most Doctor Who stories! Art-wise, the series hits all the right notes as Roberta Ingranata delivers some of the most dynamic art of her career and proves she can draw a varied cast of characters from the series’ past.

If I had to boil this series down to a single word, that word would be “fun”. The creative team of Houser and Ingranata understand the media of comics perfectly, creating stories that could never occur on-screen, either due to budget or cast availability. There’s a brilliant energy to the adventures, both here and within the ongoing Thirteenth Doctor comic, and it’s a wonderful companion to the more dramatic stories currently occurring in the TV series itself. With the upcoming “Empire of the Wolf” storyline set to feature a team-up between the Eighth and Eleventh Doctors, it looks like the creative team are on track to maintain this fan-pleasing streak.

Fans who wouldn’t normally pick up expanded-universe materials should definitely consider picking up this series, just to see the dream match-ups that Houser and Ingranata are putting together.

Score – ★★★★

Doctor Who: Missy – “The Master Plan” is available in print format from Amazon UK, or as a digital eBook from Amazon Kindle or Comixology UK.

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