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DWM Review

By Paul Scoones

Doctor Who Magazine Issues 204-206

[DWM 204] [DWM 205] [DWM 206]

The 'Archive' is almost always the highlight of a DWM issue. Andrew Pixley's microscopic attention to detail and penchant for accuracy and completeness surpasses even In Vision's indepth research. DWM 204 features The Reign of Terror, an archive constructed largely from BBC documentation, but still very interesting as a definitive overview of the first part-location story. 205 focuses on City of Death, the first overseas location story, and 206 features Planet of Fire, again notable for its use of a foreign locale deliberate link, or simply coincidence?

Whilst the cancellation of The Dark Dimension has denied DWM a potential wealth of behind-the-scenes features, the magazine has not been slow to follow up on The Paradise of Death with a two-part interview feature in 204 and 205, the latter of which also has a photospread on the 'Doctor Who special when you're not having a Doctor Who special', Bill Baggs's latest video, The Airzone Solution. Recent video releases also provide a strong focus for material, with The Trial of a Time Lord documented in 206 in the form of interviews with writers Pip and Jane Baker and musician Dominic Glynn, as well as an article written by Colin Baker, giving some welcome candid memories of working on his last season.

Doctor Who Classic Comics Issues 12, 14

[Classic Comics 12] [Classic Comics 14]

Classic Comics restart their runs of the TV Action + Countdown and TV21 Third Doctor and Dalek strips respectively in issue 12, after a break. No.14 (TSV has yet to receive a copy of issue 13), marks the 30th anniversary with a reprint of the DWM ersatz seven Doctors strip from 1988, but I'm hanging out for the next issue of DWM, containing Cornell's real seven Doctors tale!

Doctor Who Classic Comics - Autumn Holiday Special 1993

[Classic Comics Autumn Special]

Evening's Empire has been a long time coming. Two years ago, the first of this epic six part comic story was published in DWM. Difficulties involving deadlines and the postal service meant that the remaining five parts never saw print in DWM. I've read that first part several times over the last two years and often wondered what the rest of the story must be like. Now I know, and it's exceeded all my expectations.

The first part has undergone an extensive alteration in text alone since its first publication, and a 'prologue' has been tacked on the beginning, probably to flesh out the page count. Furthermore, the artwork is now in full glorious colour.

Richard Piers Rayner's artwork is exquisite. The close attention to detail in the fine-line drawings is phenomenal. In an illustration of a cluttered room, you can make out the writing on the covers of scattered magazines; on buildings you can discern individual bricks. For once, the colouring, by Paul Vyse, accentuates the art to the extent that it is hard to imagine the visuals having anything like the same impact in black and white - as they were originally intended to be presented. All too often, comic strip pages appear to be simply a collection of frames, but in this case there are many stunning examples where Rayner has composed a page as a total concept. A particularly memorable example depicts a character plunging from a great height, from top left to bottom right, surrounded by ghostly images of her childhood tormentors.

Fortunately, the story does not let the illustrations down. This is undoubtedly the very best of former script editor Andrew Cartmel's Doctor Who comic strips to date. In fact, it's the only thing he's ever written that has caused me to regret the fact that he never wrote a TV story.

The topics raised in the story are, as you might expect from Cartmel's other writing, very adult in nature yet subtle in the presentation. There is a disturbing undercurrent of domination and violation, and it is inferred yet never stated that Ace is sexually abused - perhaps even raped? Place this story back into its rightful position in the timeframe of the comic strip/New Adventures canon, and it can easily be viewed as an important milestone on the road to the hardened and embittered Ace we encounter today.

Colonel Muriel Frost of UNIT, first introduced in The Mark of Mandragora and most recently seen in Final Genesis, is a prominent character in this story. The degree of private angst behind her cool efficient military facade exposed in this story is the sort of thing one might expect from a New Adventure, and certainly makes a change from the bland, lifeless characters that usually inhabit the DWM comic stories. The same can be said of the rest of the story's cast, particularly Corporal Ives, whose brief appearance leaves the reader with a strong and lasting impression.

If you can, get yourself a copy of this utterly impressive special issue.

This item appeared in TSV 36 (November 1993).