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DWM Review

By Paul Scoones

Doctor Who Magazine 219 (23 November 1994)

Caroline John (Liz Shaw) has recently returned to the Doctor Who scene, with appearances in two Bill Baggs productions and a cameo role in Dimensions in Time, so it is fitting that this issue's main feature is an interview with her. Perhaps her most interesting revelation was that by the time Inferno was made, she was four months pregnant, but hadn't told anyone working on the show! The Enemy of the World - possibly the most technically demanding of the Troughton stories - gets the archive treatment, and there's behind-the-scenes coverage of the two recent Doctor Who video spin-offs, The Zero Imperative and Shakedown. The telesnap episode is the final part of The Ice Warriors, and some of the material which had to be left out of The Seventies book sees publication. Also included is the second half of the highly useful Doctor Who Magazine Index, which I have already used on several occasions to aid my research.

Doctor Who Magazine 220 (21 December 1994)

The first thing to strike me about this issue is the new page layout with its large white borders and condensed text. It took a little getting used to at first, but the new look is growing on me, and I'm especially pleased to see that the articles are printed on white backgrounds, after some of the absurd and highly distracting colourful geometrical shapes filling in the backgrounds of recent issues. The new format looks 'cleaner' and more professional. As for the content, any issue which archives one of my all time favourite stories - in this case Frontios - gets the thumbs-up. In addition, there are interviews with Peter Purves, Mark Ayres, William Lucas and Walter Randall. The Underwater Menace begins its telesnap outing, the First Doctor comic strip concludes, and Marcus Hearn's fascinating and in-depth study of the censorship of Doctor Who continues. From a personal standpoint, I was disappointed to discover that TSV 40 failed to rate a mention in 'The Fanzine Trap', even though the Cartmel interview it contains is undeniably of great interest to fans the world over.

Doctor Who Classic Comics 26 (9 November 1994)

It is unfortunate that on the eve of the magazine's closure, the generally awful Second Doctor strips finally start to show some promise. The increase in quality of both writing and artwork between the two consecutive Troughton stories in this issue is quite remarkable. The second story is further enhanced by featuring the comic strip debut of the Cybermen, who had several more encounters with the Second Doctor in the strips, but sadly these will now not be reprinted. The Star Beast, from the early days of Marvel's Doctor Who Weekly is concluded, and there's a back-up strip featuring the Ogrons. Paul Campbell's cover painting of Troughton and the Cybermen is particularly impressive.

Doctor Who Classic Comics 27 (7 December 1994)

After just two years, this magazine comes to an end. The editors claim that they have printed the best of the Sixties and Seventies strips, and whilst that may be the case, it seems certain that had sales of this title been better the magazine would have continued, printing the allegedly 'not-so-best' strips. Most of this particular issue is taken up with three complete Third Doctor strips, completing the run of the Countdown/TV Action strips. Prior to Marvel's own strips, these were the best Doctor Who comic stories that had ever been produced. Perhaps Classic Comics would have been a greater success had it dispensed with the rest and just printed these strips. John Ainsworth's index in the centre pages of the issue will prove very useful to those who have managed to collect most if not all 27 issues.

Doctor Who Magazine Winter Special (December 1994)

The theme of this issue is the work of the late Robert Holmes, the series' most prolific script writer. Holmes's work is generally acclaimed as being amongst the best the series has to offer, so naturally this made an ideal choice for a special. Unfortunately the result falls a little flat. Philip MacDonald's article on the style and themes of Holmes stories, whilst interesting and insightful, is flawed from the first paragraph with the implication that such things as the White Guardian and the explanation for the Doctor's celery were Holmes creations even though this is not the case. The Talons of Weng-Chiang archive, spanning an impressive 12 pages, is well worth reading with several previously unpublished photographs. The comic strip, Plastic Millenium [sic] featuring the Seventh Doctor and Mel up against Autons in the fashion world, is dull and clichéd. The section 'Holmes on Holmes' merely reprints quotes from previously interviews with the writer. The design drawings of the Krotons are however interesting, as is the second archive article on Carnival of Monsters. On the whole the issue is disappointing for mainly recovering old ground without much new or particularly insightful material. Although Holmes' works are adequately covered, information about the man himself is conspicuous by its absence.

Doctor Who Poster Magazine 1 (December 1994)

Unless fandom is populated by people who will pay money to buy huge photographic blow-ups of scenes from the series to stick on their wall, I find it hard to see how this new title can be a success. The 'magazine' consists of a single sheet of paper, 594x841mm, folded in half three times to produce something which looks like a slim issue of Doctor Who Magazine. One side of the sheet contains the poster, which in this case is a photograph of four Daleks from Planet of the Daleks, and the other side contains the cover and articles related to the Daleks. The content of these articles is rather simplistic given Marvel's usual information-intensive and highly detailed coverage of Doctor Who, which indicates to me that the Poster Magazine is a shrewd attempt to capture those, probably younger, fans who may find Marvel's main title too technical and sophisticated in its content. Perhaps therefore there is a market for this title. Will it have a longer lifespan than Marvel's last Doctor Who spin-off magazine? Time will tell.

Doctor Who - The Age of Chaos (October 1994)

This 92 page full-colour graphic novel was originally to have been published in four parts, each 22 pages long; the 'cliffhangers' are very easy to spot. The story is written by Colin Baker and therefore naturally features his Doctor, accompanied by the penguin Frobisher. Set on the planet Krontep, the Doctor embarks on a quest to assist the children of Queen Perpugilliam of the Brown, formerly his companion Peri. The story looks and reads like a rather simplistic Dungeons & Dragons scenario; where one ravenous monster or mysterious phenomena after another crops up at regular intervals for our brave heroes to encounter. Even for a comic strip the style is a little too unsophisticated for Doctor Who, and it is unfortunate that the only element which makes it Doctor Who for most of the adventure - the Doctor himself - is sometimes quite poorly drawn. It strikes me as a little odd that even with Colin Baker's creative involvement in the project his likeness could not even be successfully captured.

Supplemental review by Felicity Scoones:
Presumably this is the Sixth Doctor as Colin Baker would have liked to have played him and although the character is portrayed as more light-hearted and flexible and certainly more appealing than the television version, the knowledge that Colin Baker wrote this comic gives the character a certain validity. I enjoyed The Age of Chaos. The plot is fun, the artwork beautifully melodramatic and Peri is credibly absent. The high point of the work, though, is Frobisher who gets all the best - and most dead-pan comic - lines. The concept of a penguin companion works far better than I had previously assumed it would, to the point where the presence of Frobisher is the making the story. While the visual depiction of the Sixth Doctor differs from his appearance in the television series I don't think that this significantly detracts from the entertainment value of the graphic-novel. My only criticism is that the credit on the front cover reads 'Written by Colin Baker!' Exclamation marks are so tacky!

This item appeared in TSV 42 (January 1995).