IDW Doctor Who Classic #4 Review – It’s the 7th vs. Daleks

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Doctor Who Classic 5 CoverContinuing the tales of the seventh Doctor, portrayed by the eccentric yet charming Sylvester McCoy, the fourth issue of IDW’s fifth volume of classic Doctor Who magazine comic strip reprints continues with the quality we have come to expect. This issue’s three stories are all fun ones, with a little bit of sadness thrown in to keep us on our toes.

The issue starts off with Nemesis Of The Daleks part four, continuing the Doctor’s team-up with Abslom Daak, Dalek killer, originally printed in Doctor Who Magazine #155 in 1989. Written by Richard Alan and Steve Alan, pen names of Richard Starkings and John Tomlinson, with artwork by Lee Sullivan and lettering by Zed, the story drops us right into the action as Abslom Daak battles his way through battalions of Daleks to rescue a very captured Doctor. The Daleks have a Death Wheel that is meant to gas the planet below, and kill off all of its Helkan citizens. Abslom and the Doctor rescue a group of Helkan prisoners, and make their way to stopping the Daleks. Realizing there is only one way to destroy the Death Wheel, and stop the Daleks’ Operation: Genocide, Abslom does what he must, and makes the ultimate sacrifice.

The story was exciting, without a single dull moment, and it was a great send off for a beloved character. Starkings nailed the Doctor’s voice and characterization, with Sullivan’s artwork capturing his look perfectly. The color work of Charlie Kirchoff really made Sullivan’s, originally black and white, art “pop”. Great stuff all around!

Story numero uno, Stairway To Heaven, is a quick read, but a fun one with an inferred moral at the end. Originally presented in Doctor Who Magazine 156, with a story by Paul Cornell, and written by John Freeman, both familiar names to many fans of Doctor Who the tale begins with the Doctor presuming the TARDIS has brought him to the Chardaz Musuem of Modern Art, but he finds himself instead within a domed park of a sort. A giant egg cracks open, and out pops a small, furry alien that ages rapidly as it walks, and uses its heat vision to make a brick out of mud. The Doctor follows it to a winding staircase made of similar bricks, and decorated with the bones of the creature’s kind after they apparently fell from a great height.

The Doctor rushes to follow the creature up the staircase, saving it from a similar fate, where he finds a hatch. He pops through with the creature in tow, to find himself surrounded by people, one of whom, Garg Ardoniquist, a genetic sculptor, is about to unveil his latest masterpiece. The now elderly creature beholds its creator as the Doctor berates him for abusing science for his own egotistical ends. The creatures rushes forward to embrace Garg, and both plummet down through the still open hatch, to their deaths, and the Doctor makes a quiet exit.

The story, due to its short nature, moves very quickly, with many cool ideas packed into such a small page count. Cornell and Freeman “get” the seventh incarnation of our Time Lord pal, and all of his quirks are present. The artwork, by penciler Gerry Nolan and inker Rex Ward, fits the story well, perfectly capturing the essence of the Doctor. And again, Charlie Kirchoff’s colors are the only thing this was missing in its original printed form.

That brings us to the final story this issue, part one and two of Hunger From The Ends Of Time. This story could have easily been reworked into an episode of Who proper, with its tale of a library holding every piece of data in the universe, and hungry, shadowy creatures being reminiscent of the Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead two-parter from series four. Originally published in the pages of The Incredible Hulk Presents comic series in 1989, Dan Abnett’s story begins on the planet Catalog, the largest library in the universe. The planet’s librarians have begun storing their data in time, instead of space, and some sort of infestation is devouring that data.

The Doctor appears on the planet, after being forcibly drawn there, where Foreign Hazard Duty explains the situation. He gathers them all inside his TARDIS, explaining that he wants a better look, and not liking what he sees. The “bookworms” are agents of chaos who are supposed to live at the sites of the big bang and the big crunch, but due to storing their information throughout time the librarians have confused them, and they are feasting on the storage energy throughout the Catalog created timelines. The Doctor explains that if he can’t stop them, they will undo the fabric of time itself. The Doctor transfers all of the collected data back into space, returning the creatures to their proper time, and saving the day yet again. The planet Catalog is now covered in thousands upon thousands of books and related material, and the Doctor tells them he would be back once it is all organised, in about a century.

Even though this story is told in two parts, giving it plenty of room to breath, Dan Abnett doesn’t use that room. The story goes at breakneck speed, putting us right into the action from the start. The art by John Ridgway is just what this story needs, capturing McCoy’s likeness even better than the artists of the previous two stories.

All things told, this was a very good issue, exactly as we’ve come to expect from IDW and the creators involved. 5 out of 5 jelly babies from this reviewer.

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