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Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer

By Paul Scoones

The recent New Adventures novel Deceit features a prominent 'guest appearance' by a character from Doctor Who history - Abslom Daak. Daak has never appeared, or even been mentioned, in the TV series; until Deceit his domain was the Marvel UK Doctor Who comic strip, in which he has appeared several times over the last fourteen years.

Daak's appearances have been few and far between. After three stories in 1980, he didn't appear again until 1989 and now most recently in the Emperor of the Daleks epic comic story, which has just completed its run in Doctor Who Magazine. There will undoubtedly be a number of readers for whom Deceit will serve as their first introduction to the Dalek Killer so this article chronicles his past history for their benefit.

Abslom Daak made his debut in issue 17 of Doctor Who Weekly, the forerunner of the present-day Doctor Who Magazine. The first three Daak stories were run as 'back-up strips'. These were a regular facet of the magazine for its first 64 issues, and featured stories without the Doctor, but with various aliens from the TV series. The Daak stories featured, as well as the Daleks, both Draconians and an Ice Warrior.

Daak was a creation of the team of writer Steve Moore and artist Steve Dillon. Moore wanted to create his own, non-BBC licensed character, and Daak was the result. The Draconians, Daleks, etc were apparently only included to justify Daak's continued inclusion in the Doctor Who publication. Moore and Dillon worked together on the first story, but whilst Moore wrote the second and third stories as well, Dillon moved on due to commitments to 2000AD after completing three of the second story's four parts, and David Lloyd took over as artist.

The second and third stories, both called Star Tigers, were really just one long story, but an apparently unplanned gap of 13 issues midway through the adventure encourages the treatment of the strip as two distinct tales.

The original penultimate part of Star Tigers featured the Daleks invading a planet, but due to fears that Terry Nation was about to withdraw the rights to use his creations, the text and artwork was altered at short notice so that the Daleks became the Kill-Mechs. The original version with the Daleks was restored to the story when it was later printed in the Abslom Daak graphic novel.

Nemesis of the Daleks
Part 4 (DWM 155, 1989)

Oddly enough, although Star Tigers was concerned with Daak's acquiring a spacecraft and a band of outlaws to crew it, only the last part of the story actually saw them in action. It seems likely that a whole series of Daak adventures had been intended, but perhaps due to further problems with getting clearances from Nation, these did not eventuate. This speculation is given some credence by the fact that when the Daleks did reappear in the comic strip, Daak came with them.

Nemesis of the Daleks (1989) was the last story edited by Richard Starkings, who had been editor on almost all of the Seventh Doctor strips published up to that time. It was his idea to bring back Daak and although he provided the plot, the actual writing of the story fell to John Tomlinson. Both men used pseudonyms on the strip credits, appearing as Richard and Steve Alan. Lee Sullivan, then relatively new to the Doctor Who comic strip, provided the artwork.

The story was intended to be the last Abslom Daak adventure. Right at the beginning of the story, Daak's ship crashes and his crew, from the earlier Star Tigers story, are killed; and at the conclusion he sacrifices himself to save the day.

Having produced such a definite end to Daak's adventures, Marvel Comics UK published the Abslom Daak - Dalek Killer graphic novel in 1990, collecting together the above-mentioned comic stories in one volume along with a short text story, Between the Wars: A Slow Night in Paradise by John Tomlinson, written especially for the book, and illustrated by Lee Sullivan.

Daak reappeared in the one-part humorous story Party Animals (1991) by Gary Russell, but his was a brief cameo which added nothing to the character's history.

Possibly deliberately echoing his predecessor's bow-out, John Freeman made his last strip as comic editor a Dalek story, featuring the return of Abslom Daak. The challenging task of bringing Daak back from the dead fell to writer Paul Cornell, whose six-part Emperor of the Daleks was primarily a Davros story filling in the gaps between Revelation of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks. Once again Lee Sullivan handled the artwork.

In the story, Daak was rescued a moment before his death (which apparently does not alter the outcome of his previous adventure), whilst his crew were said to have been simply injured, which wasn't nearly as easy to reconcile considering that the Doctor had examined their bodies to establish that they were dead in Nemesis of the Daleks. This time, however, Daak and his comrades were left alive and well at the conclusion of the adventure, so there is the distinct possibility of a further appearance by the Dalek-Killer in the comics.

But the story does not end here. At about the same time as Paul Cornell was penning his comic strip, Peter Darvill-Evans was writing his New Adventures novel, Deceit, which also features Abslom Daak. Because of this unfortunate timing, Deceit does not take the continuity established in Cornell's story into account. Even though both Marvel and Virgin are keen to encourage the idea that the comics and New Adventures canon are one and the same, it is impossible to reconcile the idea that Emperor of the Daleks precedes Deceit. Perhaps they are best viewed the other way round, and Ace has gone off somewhere by herself whilst the Doctor and Bernice meet Daak and the Daleks? Deceit makes mention of the events of Nemesis of the Daleks, which Ace knows about through reading an entry in the TARDIS data banks:

'The Doctor had been with Daak when he had died. He'd made a crazy vow to kill every Dalek in the Galaxy. He had sacrificed himself in a suicidal attack on the central reactor of a Dalek Death Wheel. The Death Wheel had been blown apart, and an entire planet and all its inhabitants had been saved. Daak had been made a hero.' (Deceit, pg.15)

In tackling the problem of reviving Daak from the dead, Darvill-Evans took a radically different approach from that used by Cornell, and made it an integral part of the plot - to discover what this is, read Deceit!


Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer

Four-part comic strip, Doctor Who Weekly 17-20 (1980)
Story: Steve Moore
Art: Steve Dillon

Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer
Part 1 (DWW 17, 1980)

Abslom Daak, a 26th Century Earth criminal, is found guilty of 23 charges in a court trial and is given a choice of death by vaporisation or 'Exile D-K', Daak chooses to become a Dalek Killer. This entails being sent by matter transmitter to a Dalek-infested world and then to kill as many as possible. Only one in four actually survives the transmitter. Daak relishes the prospect - he has something of a death-wish. In addition to an assortment of weapons, he is permitted to take his one personal possession - his chain sword. Daak's destination is the planet Mazam, newly conquered by the Daleks. Mazam's former leader, Princess Taiyin, is about to be exterminated when Daak materialises and kills her would-be executors. Daak reluctantly allows Taiyin to accompany him in an attack on the Daleks' base command ship, but in the course of this a relationship forms between them, and after the destruction of the Daleks, Taiyin declares her love for Daak. As they embrace, Taiyin is blasted down by a lone surviving Dalek. As she dies in Daak's arms, he vows to kill every Dalek in the galaxy...

Star Tigers (I)

Four-part comic strip, Doctor Who Weekly 27-30 (1980)
Story: Steve Moore
Art: Steve Dillon (1-3); David Lloyd (4)

Daak arrives on Draconia in Taiyin's star yacht, having destroyed three Dalek pursuit craft. Taiyin herself is sealed in a cryogenic capsule - Daak lives in hope of finding a sophisticated medical facility to revive her, but there is not one of these to be found on the Draconian homeworld. Daak befriends a Draconian prince, Salander, owner of the spaceship building yards. Salander has discovered a political conspiracy involving a treaty with the Daleks, and escapes Draconia with Daak (and Taiyin's body), aboard one of his own constructed craft, the first prototype of an Imperial Class Frontier Defence Cruiser - which Daak names the Kill Wagon. 'The craft requires two more crew members, and Daak has a couple of old acquaintances in mind...

Star Tigers (II)

Three-part comic strip, Doctor Who Monthly 44-46 (1980)
Story: Steve Moore
Art: David Lloyd

Abslom Daak and Salander arrive on the planet Paradise to recruit Daak's old friend, Harma the Ice Warrior, who works under contract at Slash Killerstien's Murderama. Unable to persuade Harma to break his contract, Daak knocks the Ice Warrior out in a fight, and gets him aboard the Kill Wagon before he regains consciousness. Daak, Salander and Harma go to the planet Dispater in search of Daak's old partner in crime, Vol Mercurius. Mercurius bought Dispater with money he stole from Daak, but the planet is being invaded by the Daleks. Mercurius lives in isolation with only his robot, Klikbrain for company. Daak arrives and threatens Mercurius into leaving with him, abandoning Klikbrain. In space above Dispater, now with a full crew of four, the Kill Wagon encounters a squad of Daleks disguised as small asteroids. Mercurius has Salander take the ship out of the area for twelve hours, against Daak's wishes. When they return, the Daleks have gone back to their command ship on the planet surface. Daak and his crew bomb a volcano, which destroys the Daleks and their command ship.

Between The Wars: A Slow Night in Paradise

Text story, Abslom-Daak, Dalek Killer (1990)
Story: John Tomlinson
Art: Lee Sullivan

Daak is getting drunk at a bar on the planet Paradise with Murderama boss Slash Killerstien. A murderous robot breaks into the bar in search of Vol Mercurius. Daak realises that the creature was once Mercurius's companion, Kilkbrain, and deactivates it. Mercurius then arrives with Harma and Salander, who have just returned from a reconnaissance mission in the Kill Wagon to report that the Daleks are massing around the planet Hell...

Nemesis of the Daleks

Four-part comic strip, Doctor Who Magazine 152-155 (1989)
Story: Richard Starkings & John Tomlinson (writing as Richard Alan & Steve Alan)
Art: Lee Sullivan

The Kill Wagon crashes on the planet Hell after a Dalek attack in space. Harma, Salander and Mercurius apparently perish in the crash, but Abslom Daak survives and teams up with the Doctor to investigate the Dalek presence on Hell. They steal a Dalek cargo freighter and once in orbit, discover a massive Dalek Death Wheel under construction. The Doctor is captured and interrogated by the Dalek Emperor, whilst Daak learns that the Death Wheel is a huge genocide weapon. He rescues the Doctor, but his chain sword is destroyed. They locate the Death Wheel's central reactor. The Doctor resolves to destroy it, but Daak undertakes the suicidal task himself by flying into the reactor core on a Dalek hover disk. The Death Wheel explodes. Free of the Dalek presence, the native Helkans bury Taiyin's capsule as a mark of respect to Daak, their great hero.

Emperor of the Daleks

Six-part comic strip, Doctor Who Magazine 197-202 (1993)
Story: Paul Cornell
Art: Lee Sullivan

Emperor of the Daleks
Part 3 (DWM 199, 1993)

Abslom Daak is snatched to Skaro just as he is about to die in the destruction of the Dalek Death Wheel. Tricked into believing he is on Earth, Daak is equipped with a new, improved chain sword and sent to find the Doctor, in exchange for treatment for Taiyin. The Doctor, accompanied by Bernice, returns to the planet Hell and discovers Harma, Salander and Mercurius are very much alive - they were only injured in the crash, and were healed by Helkan medicine. Daak materialises beside Taiyin's (unearthed) capsule, and the group is transported to Skaro, where they are soon surrounded by Daleks, to Daak's delight. The group evades capture, but Taiyin's body has been booby-trapped by the Daleks and when Daak goes to move her, they are all gassed. Daak, Bernice, Harma, Salander and Mercurius are put under Dalek mind control and are used as Roboman troops in a mission to the planet Spiridon to locate Davros. The Dalek creator has redesigned the Daleks which were entombed there, and emerges triumphant in a battle between the two factions. Daak, Bernice and the others are released from the mind control, and when they return to Skaro, Daak attacks Davros, slicing his chair in half with his chain sword. Escaping Skaro, the group travels to the planet Paradise. Daak has got over Taiyin, but is now fixated on Bernice...


  • Abslom Daak - Dalek Killer, Marvel, 1990
  • Deceit by Peter Darvill-Evans, Virgin, 1993
  • Doctor Who Classic Comics (No.9 & 10), Marvel, 1993
  • The Terrestrial Index by Jean-Marc Lofficier, Virgin, 1991

This item appeared in TSV 35 (September 1993).

Index nodes: Deceit