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Comic Book Review
The breathless chase through time and space continues, with the TARDIS team on the run over a crime committed by one of the Doctor’s previous incarnations! The Doctor and Alice have met persistent foes before – but never anything like The Then and The Now, the transtemporal bounty hunter on their tail! Things get more complicated as a chainsword-wielding freelancer boards the ship. Is he friend or foe…?!
Last issue treated us to flashbacks to the War Doctor, but an even bigger surprise was waiting for us right at the end of the episode – in the form of Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer, who first appeared in the pages of Doctor Who Weekly way back in 1980. Goodness me, I haven’t been this surprised and delighted by a Doctor Who comic since Kroton the Cyberman (another creation from the same stable of writer Steve Moore and artist Steve Dillon) returned to Doctor Who Magazine during the Eighth Doctor era. The mag and its parent company Panini Comics get a big fat acknowledgement on the credits page, and rightfully so. It’s wonderful that Panini and Titan, who are technically rivals in the publishing world, can co-operate for the greater good of the expanded Whoniverse!
Daak’s introductory speech in Part 2 of The Then and The Now is reminiscent of Maximus Decimus Meridius in the film Gladiator: “Forged in hate. Tempered in war. My whetstone was the murder of my beloved. My scabbard is the oily leather of bug-eyed rage – ’n’ beer. I know… only… violence.” And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next. Not really, I made up that last bit! Daak is not happy that there are so few Daleks around nowadays, because of the Time War.
There are some lovely little whispered asides between the Doctor and his companions, especially at the beginning of the comic when they initially encounter the Dalek Killer. “…Rrrright,” is all Alice has to say. “Don’t make eye contact,” advises the Doctor, “He’s literally insane.” Eleven’s dialogue is accurately presented as an unpredictable mixture of eccentric banter and casually persuading someone else (i.e. Daak) to carry out some necessary physical violence. Meanwhile, the mysterious Squire, who claims to know the Doctor of old, observes that Daak “smells like a bear and he has a dead girl in a bikini.” (Actually, it’s more like a one-piece swimsuit.)
The dead girl is Taiyin, Daak’s exterminated wife, who he takes with him wherever he goes in the hope of one day finding a way to revive her. In this regard, writers Si Spurrier and Rob Williams appear to depart from the later continuity of the character, since Daak left Taiyin behind in the Seventh Doctor comic strips Nemesis of the Daleks and Emperor of the Daleks. Possibly this change is another result of the Time War, or maybe Daak was somehow reunited with Taiyin’s body in an unseen adventure. Perhaps she was given back to him by a client in order to win Daak over – which is no more unlikely than his rescue from seemingly certain obliteration at the start of Emperor of the Daleks.
In addition to such blasts from the past, the writers throw in plenty of intriguing new characters, creatures and concepts, such as the aforementioned Squire; the Cylors, gods of the people who want to put the Doctor on trial; the dark red cloud of death that is the Malignant; and The Then and The Now, a bounty hunter that doesn’t exist in normal space-time.
This is shaping up to be a very exciting new year of adventures for the Eleventh Doctor.