Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Catalogue Of Events
Story: Alan McKenzie
Art: Steve Dillon and Steve O'Leary

Dr Who: The NEXT 20 Years
Script by: Tim (Old Moore) Quinn
Art by: Dicky (The Nib) Howett

Junk-Yard Demon (reprinted from Doctor Who Monthly #58-59)
Writer: Steve Parkhouse
Artists: Mike McMahon and Adolfo Buylla
Editor: Alan McKenzie

Abslom Daak… Dalek-Killer #1-3, 3 (there are two part threes!) (reprinted from Doctor Who Weekly #17-20)
Script: Steve Moore
Art: Steve Dillon

In 1979 Doctor Who Weekly was launched in the UK, offering a diet of mainly Who-related comic strips.

It didn't even see out the year before becoming a much fatter monthly magazine, with text-articles quickly squeezing the now solitary cartoon strip down into just eight pages. That's the equivalent of two pages a week.

I guess it came as something of a surprise then, when 1983 saw the wordier mag's summer special dedicated to reprints of some of those earlier adventures.

I remember, at age 12, buying this issue on a trip into town from scout camp, and realising afterwards that, as a collector, it wasn't going to survive storage in my kit bag very well.

Yet this whole publication was a wonderful Doctor Who fix during the long seven-and-a-half months between new TV episodes that year.

There are, on the face of it, two series collected in here.

The first - Junkyard Demon - is a two-part 16-page story in which the fourth Doctor encounters and accidentally reactivates a first-Doctor-style Cyberman.

The emphasis in Steve Parkhouse's script is definitely on jokes, but maybe I just think that because of Mike McMahon and Adolfo Buyilla's abstract artwork. I think this is the only Doctor Who strip they ever drew, so as a result their loose style is unique in the series.

Here's their realisation of the fourth Doctor, looking so wide-eyed that you have to wonder if he's been drinking a little bit too much tea:

I found this look something of a shock, being used to the usual more serious tone of the series, but today I think it emphasises just how diverse the Doctor Who canon can be.

The second collection is the first four episodes (again 16 pages) of the back-up strip Abslom Daak - Dalek Killer. Though it's a bit of a disappointment that this doesn't feature the Doctor, Daak himself has since gone on to become something of a legend in Doctor Who fan circles. In retrospect, I have to wonder just how much this second printing of his origin contributed to that.

In fact, it was only two years later that these four parts would see the light of Marvel's printers for a third time, along with later episodes, within the pages of Captain Britain Monthly.

Best of all however, is Alan McKenzie's brand new text-story Catalogue Of Events, which wraps-around these two tales.

Spread throughout the special, these seven pages recount the fifth Doctor's accidental materialisation in a mysterious library, where he discovers that galactic events are being catalogued, even before they have happened.

"Imagine, if you will, Doctor, that every occurrence in the Universe is the direct result of a series of events. Component events. Every event exists, waiting, ready to be used in conjunction with other events, to precipitate an occurrence. We, here at the Events Library, stand ready to supply each batch of events as they are needed to allow the history of the universe to develop according to the pre-programmed plan."

"Wait a minute," cut in the Doctor. "Are you telling me that you and your mechanical friends here orchestrate a pre-destined plan for the universe, according to some bureaucratic timetable?"

"Well, Doctor - " the Librarian smiled as a teacher to a pupil " - that is something of an over-simplification. What we do here…"

"What you do here is manipulate events, all events, affecting the lives of billions of intelligent beings throughout the Galaxies. Is that what you're claiming? Every birth, every death. Every decision controlled from here?"

"Not everything. Just events in this sector. We have other branches, here and there."

"You make it sound like a chain of supermarkets…"

As you can probably guess, this inspiring conversation leads the Events Librarian to call up a couple of occasions from the archives for the Doctor to watch, specifically the ones in the two strips being reprinted here. It gives the comic material a much better context than to simply represent them in clinical isolation, although it is a shame that they don't seem quite so relevant to the bigger story.

Steve Dillon and Steve O'Leary's illustrations for this narrative are vivid too. At the time, Target Book's Doctor Who novelisations had gone over to using photographic covers, reportedly because their artists had found young Peter Davison's face too featureless to draw properly. Well, maybe they should have hired these guys…

Elsewhere, there's also one-page of brilliant new silliness from regular Who satirists Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett. 1983 was the year of the show's twentieth anniversary, so The Next 20 Years did exactly what it said on the tin, and assumed that the show's popularity would continue to expand.

I loved this when I first read it, but being topical humour, has time been kind to it in retrospect? Well, let's be honest - the next twenty years were not remotely kind to Doctor Who, so no.

I guess that's what ultimately became that Paul McGann USTV movie then…

Finally, at the time of publication, there was a bit of a running-joke in the main monthly mag regarding the number of readers requesting pin-ups of current companions Nyssa and Tegan. The editor had finally acquiesced to these demands by printing full-page photos of the two characters in their extremely aged state from Mawdryn Undead! However in this special he sets things right, with two very friendly-looking portraits of both characters in the full-colour centre-pages.

The two inside-covers feature monochrome pin-ups of the two Romanas, but the real poster in this issue is Steve O'Leary's stunning cover artwork. (reminder: the fifth Doctor never actually met Abslom Daak)

Overall, this is one of those comics in which everything really comes together. The writing throughout is sound, and as I've said above, the artwork is stuff that I really want to collect.

It just goes to show how impressive a simple reprinting of old material can be, when someone just takes a little care over it.

Best. Summer Special. Everrr!

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