Doctor Who Graphic Novel #24: Emperor of the Daleks


By Dan Abnett, Paul Cornell, Warwick Gray, Richard Alan, John Ridgway, Lee Sullivan, Colin Andrew & various (Panini Books)
ISBN: 978-1-84653-807-0

The British love comic strips and they love celebrity and they love “Characters.”

The history of our graphic narrative has a peculiarly disproportionate amount of radio comedians, Variety stars and film and television actors such as Charlie Chaplin, Flanagan & Allen, Shirley Eaton (“The Modern Miss”), Arthur Askey, Winifred Atwell, Max Bygraves, Jimmy Edwards, Charlie Drake and their ilk as well as actual shows and properties such as Whacko!, ITMA, Our Gang (a British version of the Hal Roach film sensation by Dudley Watkins ran in The Dandy as well as the American comicbook series by Walt Kelly), Old Mother Riley, Supercar, Pinky and Perky and literally hundreds more.

Anthology comics such as Radio Fun, Film Fun, TV Fun, Look-In, TV Tornado, TV Comic and Countdown among others all translated our viewing and listening favourites into pictorial joy every week, and it was a pretty poor star or show that couldn’t parley their day job into a licensed comic property.

Doctor Who premiered on black and white televisions across Britain with the first episode of ‘An Unearthly Child’ on November 23rd 1963, and in 1964 his decades-long association with TV Comic began in #674 and the premier instalment of ‘The Klepton Parasites’.

On 11th October 1979 (although adhering to the US off-sale cover-dating system so it says 17th) Marvel’s UK subsidiary launched Doctor Who Weekly, which became a monthly magazine in September 1980 (#44) and has been with us – under various names – ever since. All of which only goes to prove that the Time Lord is a comic hero with an impressive pedigree.

Panini’s UK division is in the ongoing process of collecting every strip from its archive in a uniform series of over-sized graphic albums, each concentrating on a particular incarnation (those in the know refer to them as “regenerations”) of the deathless wanderer. This particular tome reprints tales plucked from the annals of history and the Terran recording dates November 1992 and July 1995.

These yarns all feature the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy – my second favourite after Patrick Troughton – but I’m sure I’ll be advised why that’s so very wrong by somebody in due course…)

This collection features both monochrome and full-colour episodes and kicks off with sinister espionage thriller ‘Pureblood’ (originally seen in Doctor Who Magazine #193-196: November 1992 to January 1993) by writer Dan Abnett and artist Colin Andrew. Here the devious Time Lord and his formidable companion Benny save the last survivors of the Sontarran race from extinction at the hands of their immortal enemies the Rutan – despite hostage humans and a spy in the embattled clone-warriors’ midst. Why save a deadly enemy? Ah well, The Doctor has a rather convoluted plan…

The epic yarn leads directly into the moody ‘Flashback’ (Doctor Who Winter Special 1992, by Warwick Gray and the superb John Ridgway) as we get a glimpse of the First Doctor (William Hartnell, keep up, keep up!) having a potentially universe- shattering falling out with his best friend: a proudly arrogant young Gallifreyan called Magnus (any guesses who he eventually regenerated as?)

The main meat of this massive collection is the eponymous ‘Emperor of the Daleks’ (Doctor Who Magazine #197-202) which reunites the dashing time meddler with his deadliest foe and their deadliest foe: Abslom Daak, a deranged maniac in love with a dead woman and determined to die gloriously exterminating Daleks…

Written by Paul Cornell and John Freeman with art from Lee Sullivan (and one chapter in full-colour thanks to the talents of Marina Graham), the sprawling epic reveals a civil war between the murderous pepperpots’ creator Davros and their current supreme commander, with the Doctor (two of them, in fact) and a motley crew of allies stirring the bubbling mix and nudging the feuding megalomaniacs in a certain direction…

And when the dust settles Richard Alan and Sullivan provide a salutary epilogue in ‘Up Above the Gods’ (Doctor Who Magazine #227, July 1995) as The Doctor explains his actions to Davros… or so, at least, the deluded devil believes…

Warwick Gray & Colin Andrew then introduce a universe where The Doctor perished in his Third Regeneration leading to a cross dimensional incursion by ours, as well as Benny and Ace, to foil the ‘Final Genesis’ of Silurian/Sea Devil renegade Mortakk (from Doctor Who Magazine #203-206) after which the full-colour fun returns in ‘Time & Time Again’ (Doctor Who Magazine #207, by Cornell, Ridgway and hues-smith Paul Vyse) with all seven incarnations of the Gallivanting Gallifreyan in action to retrieve the Key to Time in hope of stopping the Black Guardian recreating the universe in his own vile image…

Abnett and Ridgeway return to the black & white days of Kent in the 1840s for ‘Cuckoo’ (Doctor Who Magazine #208-210) as Ace and Benny understandably revolt when The Doctor seeks to steal the limelight from the first woman palaeontologist Mary Anne Wesley. His motives are quite pure: what the young scientist has found is not a missing link in human evolution but something alien that its descendants are prepared to kill for…

The dramas conclude in fine styles as Gray & Ridgway expose the ferocious spleen of the Doctor in full indignant mode as he becomes an ‘Uninvited Guest’ (Doctor Who Magazine #211) delivering judgement and punishment to a soiree of indolent and callous timeless beings who enjoyed making sport and playing games with “lesser” beings. They soon learned to their dismay that such valuations are all a matter of perspective…

Supplemented with commentaries by the original creators, this is a splendid book for casual readers, a fine shelf addition for dedicated fans of the show and a perfect opportunity to cross-promote our particular art-form to anyone minded to give comics another go…
All Doctor Who material © BBCtv 2014. Doctor Who, the Tardis and all logos are trademarks of the British broadcasting corporation and are used under licence. All other material © 2017 its individual creators and owners. Published 2017 by Panini. All rights reserved.

Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor volume 1: Terrorformer


By Robbie Morrison, Dave Taylor, Mariano Laclaustra, Hi Fi, Luis Guerrero & various (Titan Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-78276-177-8 (HB)                    978-1-78276-501-1 (SC)

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: A Timeless Traditional Treat… 8/10

The comicbook division of the Whovian mega-franchise has roamed far and wide and currently rests with British publisher Titan Comics who have sagely opted to run parallel series starring the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth incarnations of the trickily turbulent Time Lord.

These tales – starring the Peter Capaldi incarnation – comprise the first five issues of the 2014 monthly comicbook with the tetchy Time Lord still gallivanting all over creation with schoolteacher and “Impossible Girl” Clara Oswald.

Scripted by Robbie Morrison (Nikolai Dante, The Authority) and illustrated by Dave Taylor (Zorro, Batman, Judge Dredd) with assistance from Mariano Laclaustra, colourists Hi Fi & Luis Guerrero and letterers Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt, the deadly dilemmas begin after the Doctor takes Clara skiing on his favourite ice-world. On arrival however they discover the entire planet has been re-sculpted – down to each trademarked palm leaf – into a tropical paradise by Kano Dollar: the Richest Human in the 25th Century.

His team have transformed the entire eco-structure in a sun-drenched paradise for mega-millionaires to romp through, but things are slowly going very wrong on the most primal levels…

When the Doctor begins throwing his intellectual weight around he quickly discovers the terra-formers’ meddling has awakened an ancient threat locked deep in the planet’s bowels for millennia. In the universes earliest era a race of living suns began eradicating races and could only be defeated by an alliance of Gallifrey with the cosmos’ other great races. Now with the Time Lords gone, only the Doctor is left to face a vengeance-crazed solar devil as “Hyperios Rises”…

Having pulled off another miracle, the chronal voyagers use the TARDIS to answer a plea for help from a former Companion. Tragically they arrive too late to save him and trigger a deadly duel in two time periods – Mumbai in 2314 and Madhya Province in 1825 – against insidious alien bloodsuckers seeking ‘The Swords of Kali’

With the assistance of renegade Indian Amazon and harem guard Rani Jhulka, the Doctor strives to prevent a diabolical mass sacrifice orchestrated by the sub-continent’s wealthiest family which will free the thing that created the cult of Thuggee.

The extra-dimensional devil also claims to be death goddess Kali and almost takes another of the Time Lord’s adored partners in peril before the furious time master pulls off his greatest feat of misdirection and save the day…

Sharp, spooky and wickedly witty, this premier volume comes with a vast gallery of alternate and variant covers (photographic, digitally manipulated, painted and/or drawn) by Mariano Laclaustra, Brian Williamson, AJ, Alice X. Zhang and Rob Farmer.

If you’re a fervent fan of the television Time Lord, this book – also available as a digital download – might well make you an addict to the print iteration too. Terrorformer is a glorious treat for casual readers, a fine additional avenue for devotees of the TV show to explore and a perfect opportunity to cross-promote our art-form to anyone minded to give comics a proper go…
BBC, Doctor Who (word marks, logos and devices) and Tardis are trade marks of the British Broadcasting Corporation and are used under licence. BBC logo © BBC 1996. Doctor Who logo © BBC 2009. Tardis image © BBC 1963. First edition April 2015.

Doctor Who Graphic Novels #23: The Highgate Horror


By Mark Wright, Jonathan Morris, Steve Lyons, Roger Langridge, Jacqueline Rayner, Scott Gray, David A. Roach, Mike Collins, John Ross, Adrian Salmon, Martin Geraghty, Dave Gibbons, John Ridgway, Dan McDaid & various (Panini Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-84653-749-3

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Timeless Tradition… 9/10

The British love comic strips and they love celebrity and they love “Odd Characters.”

The history of our graphic narrative has a peculiarly disproportionate amount of radio comedians, stars of theatre, film and TV: folk like Charlie Chaplin, Arthur Askey, Winifred Atwell, Max Bygraves, Charlie Drake and their ilk, as well as actual shows and properties such as Whacko!, ITMA, Our Gang, (a British version of the Hal Roach film sensation by Dudley Watkins in The Dandy as well as the American comicbook series by Walt Kelly), Old Mother Riley, Supercar, Pinky & Perky and literally hundreds more.

Anthology variety comics such as Radio Fun, Film Fun, TV Fun, Look-In, TV Tornado, TV Comic and Countdown amongst others translated our viewing and listening favourites into pictorial escapism every week, and it was a pretty poor lead or show which couldn’t parley the screen job into a licensed comic property.

Television’s Doctor Who premiered with part one of ‘An Unearthly Child’ on November 23rd 1963, and the following year a decades-long association with TV Comic began in issue #674 and the first instalment of ‘The Klepton Parasites’.

On 11th October 1979 (although, adhering to US off-sale cover-dating system, it says 17th) Marvel’s UK subsidiary launched Doctor Who Weekly, which regenerated into a monthly magazine in September 1980 (#44), efficiently entitled Doctor Who Monthly. It has been with us through various title-changes ever since. All of which only goes to prove that the Time Lord is a comic hero with an impressive pedigree and big shoes to fill.

Panini’s ongoing process of collecting every strip from the prodigious annals and archives in a uniform series of over-sized graphic albums – each concentrating on a particular incarnation of the deathless wanderer – reaches its twenty-third volume here as the Twelfth Doctor returns in another (inter)stellar line-up of comic strip sagas.

This particular tome gathers stories from DWM #484 and #489-500; spanning March 2015 to July 2016; starring Peter Capaldi’s irascible old chrononaut and his saucy sidekick Impossible Girl Clara Oswald in unforgettable action across the universe and every Elsewhen imaginable.

The adventures of the Grumpy Gallifreyan are – as always – described and delineated by a rapidly rotating roster of British creators who also provide a treasure-trove of background information in the Commentary section at the back, comprising story-by-story background, history and insights from the authors and illustrators, supplemented by scads of sketches, roughs, designs, production art and photos.

None of which is relevant if all you want is a darn good read. However all the imagineers involved have managed the ultimate task of any artisan – to produce engaging, thrilling, fun work which can be enjoyed equally by the merest beginner and the most slavishly dedicated and opinionated fans imaginable.

That feast of fun – coloured throughout by James Offredi and lettered by the multi-talented Roger Langridge – opens with ‘Space Invaders!’ by Mark Wright, Mike Collins & David A. Roach as The Doctor and Clara fetch up at an orbiting storage facility just as the owners start their latest sell-off of unclaimed items. Sadly, the time-travellers are not quite quick enough to stop the avid bargain-hunters opening a container full of just hatched planet-eating monster eggs…

Following smart social satire is a multi-part action romp. ‘Spirits of the Jungle’ by Jonathan Morris & John Ross sees our heroes joining an extraction mission to recover lethal intelligent weapons-tech before apparently walking into trap on a planet where the forests have their own definition of World Wide Web…

Gothic horror and vintage thrills permeate Wright, Roach & Collins’ superb chiller ‘The Highgate Horror’ wherein Clara, her immortal straight man and neophyte Companion Jess Collins hunt vampires and satanic covens in a 1970s London cemetery and instead encounter a race of ancient predators who want far worse than mere blood…

As conceived and realised by Steve Lyons & Adrian Salmon, ‘The Dragon Lord’ was a radical activist attempting to save magnificent saurians from human fun-seekers who hunted them for sport on a medieval-themed fantasy resort world. By the time our wandering troubleshooters turn up however, things have turned decidedly bloody and it looks like nobody is getting out alive…

Roger Langridge then offers an all-him treat as Harry Houdini sends out a distress call and old pal The Doctor dutifully answers. Sometimes even fakers and charlatans have power and really resent being de-bunked by upstart human escapologists playing in the ‘Theatre of the Mind’

A new time-bending miscreant debuts in Jacqueline Rayner, Martin Geraghty & Roach’s epic tale of persecution and justice as temporal prankster Miss Chief infiltrates Clara’s workspace. After causing havoc at Coal Hill School the trickster drops Miss Oswald in the vicious clutches of Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, leaving The Doctor to either participate in a time duel or somehow search the entire 17th century for his missing school chum in a ‘Witch Hunt’ with potentially fatal and final consequences…

Our temporal tintinnabulations conclude with a splendidly appropriate anniversary party get-together of old friends and foes that will delight long-tern fans without baffling newbies or casual readers.

Written by editor Scott Gray, ‘The Stockbridge Showdown’ returns The Doctor to the alien-beleaguered British village just as cosmic corporate conqueror Josiah W. Dogbolter thinks he’s finally leveraged the keys to time itself.

As the universe nears a shocking “Going Out of Business” sale, the wily Gallifreyan and many allies from the past 500 issues unite to teach the richest man in creation the paucity of his resources and the lesson of his life in a tale crafted by artists past and current, including Dave Gibbons, Langridge, Salmon, Dan McDaid, Ross, Collins, John Ridgway, Geraghty and Roach…

This is another marvellous book for casual readers, a fine shelf-addition for dedicated fans of the show and a perfect opportunity to cross-promote our particular art-form to anyone minded to give comics one more go…
All Doctor Who material © BBCtv. Doctor Who, the Tardis and all logos are trademarks of the British Broadcasting Corporation and are used under licence. Licensed by BBC Worldwide. Tardis image © BBC 1963. Daleks © Terry Nation. All commentaries © 2016 their respective authors. Published 2013 by Panini UK Ltd. All rights reserved.

Dr. Who – The Eleventh Doctor volume 1: After Life


By Al Ewing, Rob Williams, Simon Fraser, Boo Cook & various (Titan Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-78276-385-7

Doctor Who was first seen on black-&-white TV screens on November 23rd 1963 in the first episode of ‘An Unearthly Child’. Less than a year later his decades-long run of adventures in TV Comic began with issue #674 and the premier instalment of ‘The Klepton Parasites’. Throughout the later Sixties and early 1970’s, strips appeared in Countdown (later re-titled TV Action) before shuttling back to TV Comic.

On 11th October 1979 (although adhering to the US off-sale cover-dating system so it says 17th) Marvel’s UK subsidiary launched Doctor Who Weekly, which evolved into a monthly magazine in 1980 and has been with us under various names ever since.

All of which only goes to prove that the Man from Gallifrey is a hero with an impressive pedigree and hard to kill in any medium…

In recent years the strip division of the Whovian mega-franchise has roamed far and wide and currently rests with British publisher Titan Comics who have sagely opted to run parallel series starring the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth incarnations of the trickily turbulent Time Lord.

These tales starring the Matt Smith incarnation comprise the first five issues of the 2014 monthly comicbook; set just after the Time Lord restarted our imploding universe and saw his companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams married and settled down.

Naturally, the gregarious Galloping Gallifreyan is soon in the mood for a little company, as seen in ‘After Life’ scripted by Al Ewing (Captain America and the Mighty Avengers, Loki: Agent of Asgard) and Rob Williams (Cla$$war, Thanos) illustrated by Simon Fraser (Nikolai Dante, Lilly MacKenzie).

She wasn’t dead, but Alice Obiefune’s life seemed to end after her mother passed way. Things started falling apart and Library Assistant Alice was drifting head-first into a bleak grey world of sucking depression.

Everything changed in an instant when a weird rainbow dog/dragon/thingie raced down the High Street, followed by a strange beanpole man in tweed jacket and bowtie. Barely pausing for breath, he somehow got her to help him chase it.

They would have caught it too, if he hadn’t seen something sinister at the edge of his vision and run into a lamppost…

He then vanished, leaving Alice breathless and bewildered, but popped back a little later when she was safely back in her memory-blighted house. He said she seemed sad and made tea…

Alice was suitably impressed by the incredible TARDIS, but couldn’t help thinking the strange self-confessed alien seemed lonely…

Eager to show off, The Doctor gave her the guided tour of his incredible ship, but Alice kept thinking about the rainbow critter and soon the Doctor was too. Kharitite Joy Beasts home in on negative emotion and bulk up on the mass and energy they generate. However it got there, a miserable, avaricious, angry place like London was no place to leave one wandering about…

The proof of that occurred when they tracked it to the Houses of Parliament in time to stop a riot becoming a bloodbath. Happily The Doctor had a rather good idea about how to calm down the overwhelmed Kharitite…

With new Companion firmly onboard, the roaming wonderment continues in a jaunt to Rokhandi. What was supposed to be a visit to the most beautiful planet in the universe is spoiled when the TARDIS materialises in a cheap and shoddy global theme park…

‘The Friendly Place’ (Ewing & Fraser) is crass, artificial and toxically anodyne but its not long before The Doctor and Alice uncover a sinister presence lobotomising troublemakers, vandals and people who refuse to be happy. With typical rebellious zeal the Time Lord and the Library Assistant challenge the massed delight of the customers and soon uncover a rapacious scheme by corporate powerhouse ServeYouInc

Moreover – thanks to the oddities of temporal mechanics – they meet for the very first time an old enemy who despises them for all their past/future meddling…

Security Chief August Hart is happy to share the secret of the alien wish-granting thing they’ve used to pacify and lobotomise troublesome visitors, but when he makes it enter the Gallifreyan’s mind, the result is not what the moneymen were expecting…

In fact that brief cerebral contact will have repercussions up and down the timeline…

Blithely unaware, the time travellers think it’s “job done” and hurtle home. However, in 1930 Mississippi a most ominous Talent Scout is trading potential fame for relative inconsequentials. The wishes he grants are on behalf of ServeYouInc, but ‘What He Wants…’ (Williams & Fraser) is largely unknown.

He’ll probably get it though, since an ensorcelled Doctor has succumbed to the effects of the corporation’s wishing-entity and become just another of his beguiled slaves. Hopefully Alice and before-he-was-famous Rock Legend John Jones can help bluesman guitar god Robert Johnson work with the consciousness of the TARDIS to save the day and the world…

Some secrets of ServeYouInc and the initial clash with August Hart are then exposed in ‘Whodunnit?’ by Ewing & Boo (Elephantmen, Judge Dredd) Cook, as the charming chrononauts – sucked in by an impending paradox – accidentally arrive at a commercial alien science station in the far future where a years-long conspiracy has boiled over into tragedy…

Something has breached the station and is attacking the staff, plundering their minds and leaving them in comas…

Naturally, nothing is truly as it seems and despite the best efforts of jumped-up, gun-happy temporary Security Chief Hart, the shocking truth about what has been going on in the name of science and profit is exposed when The Doctor, Alice and Jones meet an incredible creature drawn to ‘The Sound of Our Voices’

Smart, warm, edgy and subtly hilarious, this premier volume comes with loads of bonus material such as short comedy strips by AJ and David Leach, Marc Ellerby’s sitcom featuring assorted Pond Life, behind-the-scenes production photos and a vast gallery of alternate and variant covers (photographic, digitally manipulated, painted and/or drawn) by the likes of Fraser, Alice X. Zhang, Rob Farmer and Verity Glass.

If you’re a fan of the small screen Time Lord, this book might well make you an addict to both. After Life is a glorious treat for casual readers, a fine additional avenue for devotees of the TV show to explore and a perfect opportunity to cross-promote our art-form to anyone minded to give comics a proper go…
BBC, Doctor Who (word marks, logos and devices) and Tardis are trade marks of the British Broadcasting Corporation and are used under licence. BBC logo © BBC 1996. Doctor Who logo © BBC 2009. Tardis image © BBC 1963. First edition April 2015.

Dr. Who: The Tenth Doctor volume 1: Revolutions of Terror


By Nick Abadzis, Elena Casagrande, Arianna Florean & various (Titan Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-78276-384-0

Doctor Who first materialised through our black-&-white television screens on November 23rd 1963 in the first episode of ‘An Unearthly Child’. Less than a year later his decades-long run in TV Comic began with issue #674 and the premier instalment of ‘The Klepton Parasites’. Throughout the later Sixties and early 1970’s strips appeared in Countdown (later retitled TV Action) before shuttling back to TV Comic.

On 11th October 1979 (although adhering to the US off-sale cover-dating system so it says 17th) Marvel’s UK subsidiary launched Doctor Who Weekly, which became a monthly magazine in September 1980 (#44) and has been with us under various names ever since.

All of which only goes to prove that the Time Lord is a comic hero with an impressive pedigree…

In recent years the strip portion of the Whovian mega-franchise has roamed far and wide and currently rests with British publisher Titan Comics who have sagely opted to run parallel series starring the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth incarnations of the tricky and tumultuous Time Lord.

Scripted by the ever-excellent Nick Abadzis (Hugo Tate, Children of the Voyager, The Amazing Mr. Plebus, Laika) and illustrated by Elena Casagrande (Suicide Risk, Star Trek, X Files) & Arianna Florean – with art assistance from Luca Lamberti, Michele Pasta, Annapaolo Martello, Giorgio Sposito & Paolo Villanelli – these tales comprise the first five issues of the 2014 monthly comicbook and are set at the conclusion of the Fourth Season starring David Tennant, just after he lost his cherished (time) travelling Companion Donna Noble

‘Revolutions of Terror’ opens in picturesque Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where the locals are gearing up for Halloween and the Mexican Day of the Dead.

Gabriella Gonzalez is less than joyous. A talented creative type, she wants to go to art school but her father is keeping her home to help in his restaurant and run his latest side-venture – a Laundromat. He is letting her go to night college though… but only to study accountancy and book-keeping…

When the washing machines all go crazy and spin out of control that day, prospective brother-in-law Hector is quick to pass on the blame to her, so Gabriella is feeling pretty annoyed and despondent. When the weird British-sounding guy turns up at the Castillo Mexicano for breakfast she barely notices him, what with grandma suddenly seeing ghosts and Hector being accosted by a demon…

Strange sights and uncanny apparitions continue throughout the day and Sunset Park is in no mood for celebrations as Gabby takes the subway to class, but when the train is attacked by monsters the weird Brit is there to fight the thing off with a buzzing blue flashlight…

Soon introductions are made and “The Doctor” has introduced her to an uncanny new universe she never believed possible… and one that might soon be ending thanks to an invasion by toxic-emotion devourers called The Silent. They are – apparently – voracious weaponised Cerebravores from another planet…

As she ingeniously holds the terrors at bay in the Laundromat, the Doctor visits their origin-world and, once he’s gained the knowledge he needs, returns with a plan to defeat them. Sadly it depends completely on Gabby’s artistic gifts and her family’s good mood…

Nevertheless global doom is averted, and the Doctor is preparing to slope off when Gabriella makes her big pitch to go with him…

Agreeing to just one quick trip, the Time Lord takes his new guest to the Pentaquoteque Gallery of Ououmos, one of the greatest collections of ‘The Arts in Space’ but, as Gabby’s cartoon strip journal shows, it’s much more of a pant-wetting scary adventure than a dry museum visit…

A driven artistic soul, Gabriella is naturally intoxicated with everything, but the real show-stopper is her introduction to puissant Zhe Ikiyuyu’s block transfer sculptures: a rare discipline which can manifest solid objects by mathematically manipulating Quantum Foam Harmonics through singing or chanting…

However the rapt fascination quickly turns into more terrified running after the Doctor takes her to Zhe’s private moon where they discover the compulsive creative artist has taken the ultimate step in her art and the creations now run the roost…

This racy, pacy, superbly authentic and in-touch little tome comes with a bunch of bonus material such as humorous strip extras by A. J, David Leach, Emma Price & Rachel Smith and a vast gallery of Gallifreyan alternate and variant covers (photographic, digitally manipulated, painted and/or drawn) by the likes of Casagrande, Alice X. Zhang, Rob Farmer, Warren Pleece and Verity Glass. Also on offer is a behind-the-scenes peek at ‘Designing Gabby’ making this a splendid slice of comics magic starring an incontestable bulwark of British Fantasy.

If you’re a fan of only one form, this book might make you an addict to both. Revolutions of Terror is a fabulous treat for casual readers, a fine shelf addition for devotees of the TV show and a perfect opportunity to cross-promote our particular art-form to anyone minded to give comics a proper go…
BBC, Doctor Who (word marks, logos and devices) and Tardis are trade marks of the British Broadcasting Corporation and are used under licence. BBC logo © BBC 1996. Doctor Who logo © BBC 2009. Tardis image © BBC 1963. First edition April 2015.

Doctor Who Graphic Novels volume 15: Nemesis of the Daleks


By Richard Starkings, John Tomlinson, John Freeman, Paul Cornell, Dan Abnett, Steve Moore, Lee Sullivan, John Ridgway, Steve Dillon, David Lloyd & many and various (Panini Books)
ISBN: 978-1-84653-531-4

The British love comic strips and they love celebrity and they love “Odd Characters.”

The history of our graphic narrative has a peculiarly disproportionate amount of radio comedians, stars of theatre, film and TV such as Charlie Chaplin, Arthur Askey, Winifred Atwell, Max Bygraves, Charlie Drake and their ilk, as well as actual shows and properties such as Whacko!, ITMA, Our Gang, (there was a British version of the Hal Roach film sensation by Dudley Watkins in Dandy as well as the American comicbook series by Walt Kelly), Old Mother Riley, Supercar, Pinky & Perky and literally hundreds more.

Anthology comics such as Radio Fun, Film Fun, TV Fun, Look-In, TV Tornado, TV Comic and Countdown amongst others translated our viewing and listening favourites into pictorial escapism every week, and it was a pretty poor lead or show which couldn’t parley the day job into a licensed comic property.

Television’s Doctor Who premiered with part one of ‘An Unearthly Child’ on November 23rd 1963, and the following year his (their?) decades-long association with TV Comic began in issue #674 and the first instalment of ‘The Klepton Parasites’ – so this year marks the 50th or Golden Anniversary of the evergreen show and the 49th (Apoplexium, I believe) of the strip iteration.

On 11th October 1979 (although, adhering to the US off-sale cover-dating system, it says 17th) Marvel’s UK subsidiary launched Doctor Who Weekly, which became a monthly magazine in September 1980 (#44) and has been with us through various title-changes ever since. All of which only goes to prove that the Time Lord is a comic hero with an impressive pedigree and big shoes to fill.

Marvel/Panini is in the ongoing process of collecting every strip from the prodigious annals and archives in a uniform series of over-sized graphic albums, each concentrating on a particular incarnation of the deathless wanderer. This particular one gathers stories from a range of sources (specifically Doctor Who Magazine #152-156, 159-162, The Incredible Hulk Presents #1-12, Doctor Who Weekly #17-20, #27-30 and Doctor Who Monthly #44-46; spanning 1980-1990) and nominally stars the Seventh Doctor -Sylvester McCoy.

Also on show are some awesome ancillary stars from the monolithic Time Lord Universe (Whoniverse?) including the eponymous trundling terrors of the title, legendary cosmic crusaders the Star Tigers and the long-revered tragic, demented antihero Abslom Daak, Dalek-Killer.

Delivered beauty-contest style in reverse order, the magnificent magic opens with the cataclysmic ‘Nemesis of the Daleks’ (from DWM #152-155) as Richard and Steve Alan – AKA Richard Starkings & John Tomlinson – deliver a definitive and classic clash between the nomadic Time Lord and the ultimate foes of life wherein the deadly Daleks enslave a primitive civilisation and drive the pitiful native Helkans to the brink of extinction by forcing them to construct a Dalek Death Wheel armed with the universe’s most potent and toxic Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Grittily illustrated by Lee Sullivan, the blockbuster saga opens with the valiant last stand of incongruous chmpions the Star Tigers before the peripatetic Doctor accidentally arrives in the right place at the wrong time – no surprise there then – and joins death-obsessed Abslom Daak in a hopeless attempt to stop the Emperor of the Daleks from achieving supreme power…

Filled with evocative do-or-die heroics this is a battle only one being can survive…

As a complete change-of-pace, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (#156 from January 1990 and by John Freeman, Paul Cornell & Gerry Dolan) offers a wry and merrily murderous poke at modern art and the slavish gullibility of its patrons that still holds true today – and probably always will…

The Incredible Hulk Presents was a short-lived reprint weekly from Marvel UK which launched on September 30th 1989, targeting younger readers and featuring four media-fed features.

As well as the Big Green TV sensation it also reprinted American-produced stories of Indiana Jones and GI Joe/Action Force, but the mix was augmented by all-new adventures of the Gallant Gallifreyan by a rapidly rotating roster of British creators.

The plan was to eventually reprint the Who stories in DWM – thus maximising the costly outlay of new material at a time in British comics publishing where every penny counted. It didn’t quite go to plan and the comic folded after 12 issues, with only a couple of the far simpler – though no less enjoyable offerings – ever making it into the more mature magazine publication.

It all began with ‘Once in a Lifetime’ by Freeman & Geoff Senior wherein an obnoxious alien reporter learned to his dismay that some stories are too big even for the gutter press, after which issues #2-3 featured creators Dan Abnett & John Ridgway whose ‘Hunger From the Ends of Time!’ saw the Doctor and Foreign Hazard Duty – the future iteration of UNIT – save the Universal Library from creatures who literally consumed knowledge.

‘War World!’ by Freeman, Art Wetherell & Dave Harwood found the irascible time-traveller uncharacteristically fooled by an (un)common foot soldier, whilst in ‘Technical Hitch’ by Abnett & Wetherell, the Doctor saved a lonely spacer from unhappy dreams of paradise…

Freeman & Senior concocted a riotous, monster-mash for ‘A Switch in Time!’ whilst ‘The Sentinel!’ by Tomlinson & Andy Wildman found the Time Lord helpless before a being beyond the limits of temporal physics who claimed to have created all life in the universe but still needed a little something from Gallifrey to finish his latest project…

Another 2-parter in #8-9 declared ‘Who’s That Girl!’ as the Doctor’s latest regeneration apparently resulted in a female form just as the Time Lord was required to  stop an inter-dimensional war between malicious macho martial empires. Of course there was more than met the eye going in this silly but engaging thriller by Simon Furman, John Marshall & Stephen Baskerville.

Simon Jowett & Wildman produced a light-hearted salutary fable as ‘The Enlightenment of Ly-Chee the Wise’ proved that some travellers are too much for even the most mellow of meditators to handle, after which Mike Collins, Tim Robins & Senior proved just how dangerous fat-farms could be in ‘Slimmer!’ before The Incredible Hulk Presents ended its foray into time-warping with the portentous ‘Nineveh!’ by Tomlinson & Cam Smith, wherein the Tardis was ensnared in the deadly clutches of the Watcher at the End of Time – an impossible mythical being who harvested Time Lords after their final regeneration…

For most of its run and in all its guises the Doctor Who title suffered from criminally low budgets and restricted access to concepts, images and character-likenesses from the show (many actors, quite rightfully owning their faces, wanted to be paid if they appeared in print…) but diligent work by successive editors gradually bore fruit and every so often fans got a real treat…

‘Train-Flight’ by Andrew Donkin, Graham S. Brand & John Ridgway ran in DWM #159-161 from April to June 1990 and benefited from some slick editorial wheeler-dealing and the generosity of actress Elizabeth Sladen (who allowed her Sarah Jane Smith character to be used for a pittance) in a chilling tale of alien abductions.

A long overdue reunion between the Time Lord and his old Companion was swiftly derailed when their commuter train was hijacked by marauding carnivorous insects…

‘Doctor Conkerer!’ (#162 by Ian Rimmer & Mike Collins) then terminates the Time Lord’s travails in this tome with a humorous tale describing the unsuspected origins of that noble game played with horse chestnuts beloved by British schoolboys, assorted aliens and, of course, Vikings of every stripe…

There’s still plenty of high quality action and adventure to enjoy here, however, as the complete saga of ‘Abslom Daak, Dalek-Killer’ by Steve Moore and artists Steve Dillon& David Lloyd (from Doctor Who Weekly #17-20, February-March 1980, Doctor Who Weekly #27-30, April 1980 and Doctor Who Monthly #44-46, December 1980-February 1981) fills in the blanks on the doomed defenders of organic life everywhere…

In the 26th century the Earth Empire is in a death struggle with voracious Dalek forces yet still riven with home-grown threats.

One such is inveterate, antisocial killer Abslom Daak, who, on sentencing for his many crimes, chooses “Exile D-K” – being beamed into enemy territory to die as a “Dalek Killer”. His life expectancy as such is less than three hours… and that suits him just fine.

Materialising on an alien world the madman eagerly expects to die but finds an unexpected reason to live until she too is taken from him, leaving only an unquenchable thirst for Dalek destruction…

The initial ferociously action-packed back-up series led to a sequel and ‘Star Tigers’ found the manic marauder winning such improbable allies as a rebel Draconian Prince, a devilish Ice Warrior and the smartest sociopath in Human space, all willing to trade their pointless lives to kill Daleks…

As always the book is supplemented with lots of text features, and truly avid fans can also enjoy a treasure-trove of background information in the 17-page text Commentary section at the back, comprising story-by-story background, history and insights from the authors and illustrators, supplemented by scads of sketches, script pages, roughs, designs, production art covers and photos.

This includes full background from former DWM editor/scripter John Freeman on the stories, plus background on the guest stars in ‘Tales from the Daak Side’ by John Tomlinson.

More details and creator-biographies accompany the commentaries on The Incredible Hulk Presents tales and there’s a feature on ‘Hulk meets Who’ explaining that odd publishing alliance, as well as reminisces from editor Andy Seddon and even more info on the legendary Dalek killer and his Star Tiger allies to pore and exult over.

None of which is relevant if all you want is a darn good read. However all the creators involved have managed the ultimate task of any artisan – to produce engaging, thrilling, fun work which can be equally enjoyed by the merest beginner and the most slavishly dedicated and opinionated fans imaginable.

This is another marvellous book for casual readers, a fine shelf-addition for dedicated fans of the show and a perfect opportunity to cross-promote our particular art-form to anyone minded to give comics one more go…

All Doctor Who material © BBCtv. Doctor Who, the Tardis and all logos are trademarks of the British Broadcasting Corporation and are used under licence. Licenced by BBC Worldwide. Tardis image © BBC 1963. Daleks © Terry Nation. All commentaries © 2013 their respective authors. Published 2013 by Panini Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved.

Doctor Who Graphic Novels volume 14: The Child of Time


By Jonathan Morris, Mike Collins, David A. Roach, Roger Langridge, Martin Geraghty, Dan McDaid, Rob Davis, Geraint Ford, Adrian Salmon, & James Offredi (Panini Books)
ISBN: 978-1-84653-460-7

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: scintillating, superior sci fi for the bigger kids cluttering up the house and waiting for the TV Specials to start … 8/10

Doctor Who launched on television in the first episode of ‘An Unearthly Child’ on November 23rd 1963. Less than a year later, his decades-long run in TV Comic began with issue #674 and the premier instalment of ‘The Klepton Parasites’. On 11th October 1979 (although adhering to the US off-sale cover-dating system so it says 17th) Marvel’s UK subsidiary launched Doctor Who Weekly, which became a monthly magazine in September 1980 (#44) and has been with us under various names ever since.

All of which only goes to prove that the Time Lord is a comic hero with an impressive pedigree…

Panini is in the ongoing process of collecting every strip from its archive in a uniform series of over-sized graphic albums, each concentrating on a particular incarnation of the deathless wanderer. This particular one gathers stories short and long which, taken together comprise a two-year extended epic. From Doctor Who Magazine (or DWM) #421-441 (originally published between 2010-2011), this run features the strip debut of the Matt Smith incarnation of the far-flung, far-out Time Lord as well as his foremost companion Amy Pond.

None of which is relevant if all you want is a darn good read. All the creators involved have managed the ultimate task of any comics-creator – to produce engaging, thrilling, fun stories which can be equally enjoyed by the merest beginner and the most slavishly dedicated – and opinionated – fans imaginable.

With all tales written by Jonathan Morris (plus, according to the author, liberal input from editors Scott Gray & Tom Spilsbury), coloured by James Offredi and lettered by Roger Langridge, the drama kicks off in ‘Supernature’ (illustrated by Mike Collins & David A. Roach, from DWM #421-423, May-July 2010).

Arriving on a jungle paradise world The Doctor and Amy quickly discover Earthling colonists in the midst of a terrifying plague…

The humans – all convicts press-ganged and abandoned to turn the planet into a suitable home – are being transformed into uncanny mutant beasts, and even the Time Lord and his new companion are monsterised before the crisis is solved. However when they depart they take part of the problem with them…

A rare but very welcome art job for regular letterer Langridge results in a bizarre and wonderful spoof on ‘Planet Bollywood!’ when warring factions of an ancient empire – and a romantic leading man – all struggle to possess a sexy humanoid device which compels listeners to break out in song and dance routines, after which a trip to Tokyo found fresh horror in the metamorphosis of innocent – if educationally lacking – children into a deadly fifth column…

‘The Golden Ones’ (#425-428, by Martin Geraghty & Roach) is a grand old-fashioned blockbuster invasion saga with a huge body-count, valiant armed resistance by dedicated UNIT soldiers, a classic villain’s return, a brilliant scientific solution and a slew of subtle clues to the greater saga unfolding. Just who is that strange little girl who keeps popping up everywhen?

From #429 comes the literary fantasy-homage ‘The Professor, the Queen and the Bookshop’ (Rob Davis & Geraint Ford) wherein our heroes meet a reclusive writer and evacuee children Amy – and hubby-to-be Rory – encounter a strange man in an infinite shop which can travel anywhere…

It’s back to Paris in 1858 for Dan McDaid’s ‘The Screams of Death’ as aspiring but hopeless singer Cosette is taken under the wing of impresario Monsieur Valdemar and develops a voice that could shake the Opera House to its foundations. Of course, the Svengali-like Fugitive from the Future had far grander plans for his many captive songbirds until Mam’selle Pond and M’sieu le Docteur turned up to foil a mad scheme to rewrite history…

The over-arching epic takes a big step forward in #432’s ‘Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night’ (featuring a welcome full-art outing for the splendid David Roach) as the Tardis turns up in an old people’s home staffed by robots, haunted by children and plagued by a vanishing roster of residents, whilst Adrian Salmon gets his freak on in the trippy terror-tale ‘Forever Dreaming’ (#433-434) as Amy is apparently trapped in a 1960’s seaside town with a dark secret, a phantom octopus and a host of psychedelic icons who really should be dead…

The saga swings into full acceleration with ‘Apotheosis’ (DWM #435-437 and limned by McDaid) as the Doctor and Amy land aboard a derelict space station and walk into the closing act of a galaxy-spanning war between humanity and their scheduled replacements: the awesome autonomous androids of Galatea.

Aboard the station, a cadre of warrior Space Nuns are seeking an ultimate weapon to tip the scales of the conflict, but with lethal sanitation robots everywhere and rogue time-distortion fields making each step a potential death-march, the hunt is hard-going. With everybody – even the Time Lord – hyper-aging at vastly different rates, when the Tardis then mutates into something impossible, the stage is set for a spectacular threat to all of creation to be born…

Of course, first the Machiavellian, monstrously manipulative and atrociously amoral creature calling herself Chiyoko must carry out a number of crucial appointments in Eternity to ensure the existence and consolidate the celestial dominance of ‘The Child of Time’ (with art from Geraghty & Roach from (DWM #438-441 August -November 2011).

Two years’ worth of cleverly-concocted mystery and imagination are then wrapped up in a staggering, creatively-anachronistic display of temporal hocus-pocus by scripter Morris as The Doctor, Amy and allies Alan Turing and the Bronte Sisters ward off the unmaking of time, the end of humanity and eradication of all life in the universe before the tragic finale and a happy ever after of sorts…

Dedicated fans can also enjoy a treasure-trove of background information in the 25-page  text Commentary section at the back, comprising chapter-by-chapter background, history and insights from the author and each of the illustrators, supplemented by happy horde of sketches, roughs, designs, production art and even excised material from all concerned.

We’ve all have our private joys and hidden passions. Sometimes they overlap and magic is made. This is another superb set of supremely satisfying comic strips, starring an absolute Pillar of the British Fantasy pantheon.

If you’re a fan of only one, The Child of Time should certainly spark your hunger for the other. This is a fabulous book for casual readers, a fine shelf addition for devotees of the show, the ideal opportunity to cross-promote our particular art-form and the perfect present for the Telly Addict haunting your house…

All Doctor Who material © BBCtv. Doctor Who logo © BBC 2012. Tardis image © BBC 1963. Doctor Who, Tardis and all logos are trade marks of the British Broadcasting Corporation and are used under licence by BBC Worldwide. Published 2012 by Panini Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved.

Doctor Who Graphic Novels volume 13: The Crimson Hand


By Dan McDaid, Martin Geraghty, Mike Collins & various (Panini Books)
ISBN: 978-1-84653-451-5

Doctor Who launched on television in the first episode of ‘An Unearthly Child’ on November 23rd 1963. Less than a year later his decades-long run in TV Comic began with issue #674 and the premier instalment of ‘The Klepton Parasites’. On 11th October 1979 (although adhering to the US off-sale cover-dating system so it says 17th) Marvel’s UK subsidiary  launched Doctor Who Weekly, which became a monthly magazine in September 1980 (#44) and has been with us under various names ever since.

All of which only goes to prove that the Time Lord is a comic hero with an impressive pedigree…

Marvel/Panini is in the ongoing process of collecting every strip from its archive in a uniform series of over-sized graphic albums, each concentrating on a particular incarnation of the deathless wanderer. This particular one gathers stories from issues Doctor Who Magazine or DWM #394, The Doctor Who Storybook 2010 and DWM #400-420, (originally published between 2008 and 2010): all featuring the escapades of the David Tennant incarnation of the far-flung Time Lord.

This is actually the third – and final – collection of strips featuring the Tenth Doctor and whether that statement made any sense to you largely depends on whether you are an old fan, a new convert or even a complete beginner.

None of which is relevant if all you want is a darn good read. All the creators involved have managed the ultimate ‘Ask’ of any strip creator – to produce engaging, thrilling, fun strips that can be equally enjoyed by the merest beginner and the most slavishly dedicated fan.

After an effusive introduction from series re-creator Russell T. Davies, the full-colour graphic grandeur begins with a one-off romp from 2008 entitled ‘Hotel Historia’ by writer/artist Dan McDaid, wherein the Good Doctor fetches up in a spectacular resort for time-travellers and first encounters the pushy and obnoxious corporate raider Majenta Pryce and uses her shoddy and slipshod time-technology to counter a threat from the chronal brigands known as the Graxnix.

This is riotously followed by a delightful clash with ‘Space Vikings’ (by Jonathan Morris, Rob Davis & Ian Culbard, from the 2010 Christmas Doctor Who Storybook) wherein the slave-taking star-rovers prove to be far less than they at first appear…

The main body of stories here formed something of an experiment as DWM #400-420 were designed as an extended story-arc leading up to the big change on television where Matt Smith would replace Tennant as “the Eleventh Doctor”.

Therefore McDaid was tasked with scripting the entire 21 issue run and began by reintroducing scurrilous money-mad chancer Majenta Pryce in ‘Thinktwice’ (#400-402, illustrated by Martin Geraghty & David A. Roach); an intergalactic penal institution with some decidedly off-kilter ideas on reforming prisoners.

Pryce is a prisoner but has amnesia. So does her cellmate Zed and in fact, most of the convicts aboard. The supposedly cushy debtor’s prison is in fact a horror-house of psychological abuse where suicide is endemic, maintained by the creepy Warden Gripton who is messing with the inmates’ memories to satisfy the hungers of something he calls “memeovax”…

Luckily the new prison doctor “John Smith” is a dab hand with the Sonic screwdriver…

With her memory far from restored the wickedly entrepreneurial Majenta becomes the unlikeliest of Companions as she demands that the “legally liable” Doctor makes restitution for all the trouble he’s caused by ferrying her to the planet Panacea where she can be properly cured. As we all know however, the Tardis goes where She wants and at Her own pace…

‘The Stockbridge Child’ (#403-405 with art from Mike Collins & Roach) deposits the unhappy partners to that peaceful English village where three different incarnations of the Time Lord have encountered incredible alien incursions. When the Doctor is reunited with outcast skywatcher Maxwell Edison they uncover at last the ancient horror beneath the hamlet which as made the place such a magnet for madness and monsters before finally despatching the brooding anti-dimensional threat of the Lokhus

Meanwhile Majenta’s big secret hasn’t forgotten her and is rapidly closing in…

DWM #406-407 featured ‘Mortal Beloved’, illustrated by Sean Longcroft, wherein the Doctor and “Madge” arrive at a decrepit asteroid mansion on the edge of the biggest storm in creation. Amidst the flotsam and jetsam lurk poignant clues to Pryce’s past as tantalisingly revealed by the robots and holograms left to run the place after a far younger Majenta jilted brilliant playboy industrialist Wesley Sparks. Of course, after such an immense length of time even the most devoted of loves and programs could falter, doubt and even hate…

‘The Age of Ice’ (#408-411, by McDaid, Geraghty & Roach) brought the Last Time Lord and Lost Executive to Sydney Harbour and a fond reunion with Earth Defence Force UNIT, just as time-distortions began dumping dinosaurs in the sunny streets and crystalline knowledge stealers The Skith once more attempted to assimilate all the Doctor’s vast experience. Majenta too found an old friend in the shape of her long-lost junior associate Fanson who admitted he had wiped her memory. When he became part of the huge body-count before revealing why, Madge thought she would lose what was left of her mind…

‘The Deep Hereafter’ (#412, by Rob Davis with above-and-beyond calligraphy from faithful letterer Roger Langridge) is a scintillating space detective story, pastiching the classic Will Eisner Spirit Sunday sections, but still succeeds in advancing the overarching plot as Madge and the Doctor complete the last case of piscine P.I. Johnny Seaview and chase down the threat of the reality warping World Bomb whilst ‘Onomatopoeia’ in #413 (Collins & Roach) pits the reluctant pair against space-rats and out-of-control pest prevention systems in a clever and heart-warming fable told almost exclusively without dialogue.

The superb ‘Ghosts of the Northern Line’ (#414-415) follows with guest-artist Paul Grist working his compositional magic in a chilling yarn of murderous phantoms slaughtering tube passengers in present day London. Obviously they can’t be spirits so what is the true cause of the apparitions? This yarns leads directly into the big payoff as they assemble forces of galactic Law and Order suddenly show up to arrest Majenta, plunging the voyagers into a spectacular epic as the stroppy impresario at last regains her memory and acquires the power to reshape all of reality as part of the cosmic consortium known and feared as ‘The Crimson Hand’ (DWM #416-420, by McDaid, Geraghty & Roach.

This blockbuster rollercoaster epic perfectly ends the saga of Majenta Pryce and signs off the Tenth Doctor in suitable style, but dedicated fans still have a plethora of added value bonuses in the wonderful text section at the back, which includes a commentary from editor Tom Spilsbury, the origins of the saga from McDaid, Doctor Who Story Notes, the Majenta Pryce “Pitch” and an annotated story background, section: all copiously illustrated with behind-the-scenes photos, sketches and production art.

We’ve all got our little joys and hidden passions. Sometimes they overlap and magic is made. This is a superb set of comic strips, starring an undeniable bulwark of British Fantasy. If you’re a fan of only one, this book might make you an addict to both. The Crimson Hand is a fabulous book for casual readers, a fine shelf addition for devotees of the show and a perfect opportunity to cross-promote our particular art-form to anyone minded to give comics another go…

All Doctor Who material © BBCtv.  Doctor Who logo © BBC 2009. Tardis image © BBC 1963. Doctor Who, the Tardis and all logos are trade marks of the British broadcasting corporation and are used under licence. © Marvel. Published 2012 by Panini Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved.

Doctor Who: vol.11 Cold Day in Hell


By various (Panini Books)
ISBN: 978-1-84653-410-2

The British love comic strips and they love celebrity and they love “Characters.”

The history of our graphic narrative has a peculiarly disproportionate amount of radio comedians, Variety stars and film and television actors such as Charlie Chaplin, Flanagan & Allen, Shirley Eaton (“The Modern Miss”), Arthur Askey, Winifred Atwell, Max Bygraves, Jimmy Edwards, Charlie Drake and their ilk as well as actual shows and properties such as Whacko!, ITMA, Our Gang, (there was a British version of the Hal Roach film sensation by Dudley Watkins in Dandy as well as the American comicbook series by Walt Kelly), Old Mother Riley, Supercar, Pinky and Perky and literally hundreds more.

Anthology comics such as Radio Fun, Film Fun, TV Fun, Look-In, TV Tornado, TV Comic and Countdown among others all translated our viewing and listening favourites into pictorial joy every week, and it was a pretty poor star or show that couldn’t parley their day job into a licensed comic property.

Doctor Who launched on television with the first episode of ‘An Unearthly Child’ on November 23rd 1963, and in 1964 his decades-long association with TV Comic began in #674 with the premier instalment of ‘The Klepton Parasites’. On 11th October 1979 (although adhering to the US off-sale cover-dating system so it says17th ) Marvel’s UK subsidiary  launched Doctor Who Weekly, which became a monthly magazine in September 1980 (#44) and has been with us under various names ever since. All of which only goes to prove that the Time Lord is a comic hero with an impressive pedigree.

Marvel/Panini is in the ongoing process of collecting every strip from its archive in a uniform series of over-sized graphic albums, each concentrating on a particular incarnation of the deathless wanderer. This particular one gathers stories from issues #130-150, (originally published in the early 1990s) a time when regular artist John Ridgway gave way to a succession of rotating creators as part of the company’s urgent drive to cut costs – although there’s no appreciable drop in quality that I can see. These yarns all feature the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy – my second favourite after Patrick Troughton – but I’m sure I’ll be advised why that’s so very wrong by somebody in due course…)

This all black and white collection kicks off with the eponymous ‘Cold Day in Hell!’ by writer Simon Furman, Ridgway and inker Tim Perkins, a four part thriller featuring an attack by Martian Ice Warriors on a tropical resort planet, which leads directly into the moody, single story ‘Redemption!’ by Furman, Kev Hopgood and Perkins.

At that time and in this book Marvel sanctioned some controversial crossovers with other Marvel UK characters. The first of these was Death’s Head, a robotic bounty hunter from the Transformers comic in Furman and Geoff Senior’s ‘The Crossroads of Time’ (Doctor Who Monthly #135), but it was back to sounder stuff with the freak-filled three-part Victorian Great Exhibition epic ‘Claws of the Klath!’ by Mike Collins, Hopgood and David Hine.

Fresh-faced young scribe Grant Morrison wrote the charmingly different ‘Culture Shock!’ for equally neophytic (no, it means new or fresh) ascending star Bryan Hitch to draw, before John Higgins illustrated Furman’s ‘Keepsake’, a classy space opera about an indigent salvage man. John Freeman and Lee Sullivan started their long association with the magazine in the two-part ‘Planet of the Dead’ (DWM #141-142), which featured an ambitious, spooky team-up of all seven regenerations of the Time Lord on a world filled with the Companions who had died in their service…

‘Echoes of the Mogor!’ (DWM #143-144) by Dan Abnett and Ridgway was an eerie chiller set on a mining planet where Earth workers are mysteriously dying, whilst ‘Time and Tide’ by Richard Alan and John Carnell, illustrated by Dougie Braithewaite & Dave Elliott (DWM #143-144), marooned the Doctor on a drowning world amidst aliens who don’t seem to care if they live or die…

Carnell wrote the other crossover I mentioned earlier, a far less well-regarded romp with the imbecilic detectives the Sleeze Brothers. ‘Follow that Tardis!‘ was illustrated by Andy Lanning, Higgins, Braithwaite and Elliot, and the volume’s strip content concludes with Alan grant’s three-part ‘Invaders from Gantac!’, wherein a colony of alien torturers invade 1992 London by mistake in a tale as much comedy as thriller, drawn by Martin Griffiths and Cam Smith.

Supplemented with lots of text features, pin-ups, creator-biographies and commentaries, this is a great book for casual readers, a fine shelf addition for dedicated fans of the show and a perfect opportunity to cross-promote our particular art-form to anyone minded to give comics one more go…

All Doctor Who material © BBCtv.  Doctor Who, the Tardis and all logos are trade marks of the British broadcasting corporation and are used under licence. Death’s Head and The Sleeze Brothers © Marvel. Published 2009. All rights reserved.

Death’s Head Vol 1

Death’s Head Vol 1

By Simon Furman & various

Marvel/Panini UK ISBN 1-905239-34-3
(A BRITISH EDITION RELEASED BY PANINI UK LTD)

Marvel UK had very few long-term successes in its twenty-plus years as a semi-autonomous company, but the robotic bounty hunter — sorry, free-lance peace-keeping agent — was certainly one of their most eccentric. Now the current regime have released the almost complete adventures in a cheerful bookshelf edition for your nostalgia tinged enjoyment.

Along with some welcome background on the big tin guy, there’s the very first one page adventure, the team-up with the Sylvester McCoy incarnation of Dr Who, the preliminary guest shot with the futuristic paramilitary sports team The Dragon’s Claws, and then the first seven issues of his own comic book series, all lavishly re-presented for a manic metal-head’s enjoyment. The only fault to find is the necessary exclusion of the battles against those other big robotic staples of the 1980s comic scene, The Transformers. Due to pesky copyright reasons the battles from Transformers # 113-151 have been left out, but this shouldn’t mar your enjoyment of this good old-fashioned comedy action-fest.

Always played as much for laughs as thrills and mercifully short on the breast-beating angst of his Marvel contemporaries, Death’s Head was created and written by Simon Furman, and this volume has artwork from Geoff Senior, Bryan Hitch, Lee Sullivan, Liam Sharp, John Higgins, Mark Farmer, Dave Hine, Paul Marshall and Jeff Anderson

© 1986-1989, 2006 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved.