Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Doctor Who Classics Omnibus by Various

This book collects several Doctor Who stories that appeared in comics, mostly starring the fourth Doctor, but also with recourse to the sixth and seventh in two stories. Most of these comics were published in the 1970's, so they are pretty much unfindable now.

"The Iron Legion" takes the 4th Doctor on a trip through a futuristic empire derived from the Romans, including the dreaded robot army known as the "Iron Legion". But unbeknownst to the humans making up the empire, the woman in charge is actually a dragon-like alien, and so are the 'Gods' that they worship!

"City of the Damned" takes the Doctor through a futuristic city where emotions are outlawed by the brains that rule the city. They maintain that living without emotion is healthier for people, until a bunch of separatists who keep emotions alive, one each, unleash a plague of bloodbugs on the city. These carrion eaters can only be killed by emotion-fueled adrenaline, so can the Doctor and the other separatists save the city in time?

"Timeslip" has the Doctor running his Tardis into a beast that literally eats time. As time runs backwards and K-9 turns into its component parts and then into molten metal, and the Doctor starts running backwards through his own regenerations, can he overcome the creature and save himself?

"Doctor Who and the Star-Beast" has the Doctor landing on Earth and becoming entangled in a group of insectile aliens who are attempting to kill a cute and fluffy alien known as a Meep. The kids, Fudge and his friend Sharon, are attempting to keep the alien safe- but unknown to them, this alien may look cute and cuddly, but is the former emperor of an empire that conquered and exterminated many alien races, and he harbors murderous thoughts towards his rescuers as well. Can the Doctor unmask the tyrant and save the two children from death?

"The Dogs of Doom" takes Sharon and the Doctor to help humanity fight off a race of Werewolfized Humans and their masters, the Daleks! With only the aid of Brill, a hypnotized Dog-man, can the Doctor defeat the Daleks and take away their time machine?

In "Doctor Who and the Time Witch", the Tardis is split in half by a time chasm, and the Doctor and Sharon find themselves in a strange place, where the world itself is mutable by the power of thought and will. But when the Doctor and Sharon fall afoul of Brill, the woman in charge, can they restore her to her rightful place and break free of the Time Chasm?

"Dragon's Claw" takes the Doctor and Sharon back to 16th century China, where a group of monks at a monastery are under the rule of a very strange abbot, one who possesses a beam weapon and has it in for both the Doctor and Sharon. The monks, who are Shaolin, have no idea who their real masters are, but the Doctor soon discovers that the head abbot, Yueh Kuang, is working for aliens- the Sontarans. Can the Doctor defeat their plan to get the crystal they needs and defeat the abbot with his own army of monks?

"The Collector" takes the Doctor and Sharon to a spaceship owned by a strange alien who only wants to leave. But leaving the ship kills him and enrages the robot who runs the ship. Can the Doctor undo his mistake and rectify the problem using the Tardis?

"Dreamers of Death" takes the Doctor and Sharon to Unicepter IV, a world where he has been before. But now, creatures called Slinths, animals native to Unicepter, have been found to have telepathic powers that allow people to share fantastic waking dreams with each other. But when the Slinths go bad, can the Doctor save his friends from the Slinths? And must he say "Goodbye" to Sharon?

"Changes" involves the 6th Doctor and his companions Peri and Frobisher, a shapechanger who prefers the form of a Penguin. When a strange alien who can also shapechange invades the Tardis from the Zoo, can the Doctor and Frobisher save Peri when she falls into its clutches?

"Culture Shock" takes the seventh Doctor, who goes to an unnamed planet to think, where he finds a telepathic alien swarm in danger from a bacterial attack. Can the Doctor save the culture and bring it to the right place to allow it to breed and grow, or will an entire race of creatures go extinct?

"The World Shapers" brings back the 6th Doctor, Peri and Frobisher. They find a strange planet with a dying Time Lord who can only speak "Planet 14" before he dies. This touches a chord in the Doctor's memory, and he travels back in time to speak to Jamie MacCrimmon, one of his former companions about Planet 14. But when they travel back to the planet, it is completely changed, and time is running forward very quickly. Can they pierce the heart of the mystery, or will Jamie lose his life for nothing?

"The Life Bringer" returns us to the Fourth Doctor, traveling with K-9. When he comes across a man chained to a rocky outcropping by a beach, he discovers that the man is Prometheus, and he wanted to release life into the Universe, which is still being formed by Zeus. But when he goes back to Olympus, he is imprisoned, and the Doctor is sentenced to be "examined" by Asclepius. Can the Doctor escape and free Prometheus to do the job he was meant to do?

"war of the Worlds" takes the Doctor to Biblios, the Library Planet, run by machines who constantly catalogue information. Unfortunately, no one has been able to land on Biblios because two races are fighting over it, and over the information on super-weapons they think are held there. Each race is fighting to prevent the other race from obtaining the information. But the library doesn't hold that information and never did. Unfortunately, the races don't believe the librarian robots. Can the Doctor convince them?

"Spider God" has the Doctor land on a strange planet where a race of humanoids seem to worship a race of giant spiders. The Doctor comes into conflict with members of a human survey ship who decide to destroy the Spiders to free the humans. But is this the right thing to do?

"The Deal" has the Doctor making a deal with an alien to get him off a planet. But unbeknownst to the Doctor, the alien is a megalomaniacal killer. Can the Doctor do as he promised without leaving the killer free to kill the rest of the galaxy?

"End of the Line" takes the Doctor into the future, where the world has run out of food and most people have become cannibals. But a few vegetarians exist. They want to escape the city to the countryside, but need to use a long unknown-of subway line to get to freedom. Unfortunately, the engineer who is helping them is dying, and without him or someone to save him, they have no hope. The Doctor isn't a medical Doctor, but can he get them free of the city? And is there really any hope in the countryside for them?

"Freefall Warriors" takes the Doctor into the seat of a Blue-Angels like fighting Jet of the Future for some acrobatics, but when the pilot gets caught up in a real fire fight, it will be up to the Doctor to save the day!

As I said at the beginning, most of these stories appeared in the late 70's and early 80's in comics, so I'd seen many of them before ("The Iron Legion" and "City of the Damned" are the ones I remembered best.) But even so, it was nice to see them here again, and to read the new stories (okay, new to me) that I had never seen before.

This book best shows off the real zaniness of the 4th Doctor- and the ending of the "City of the Damned", where you see an entire city of people who are now "just like the Doctor", it inspired chortles of mirth that brought me right back to being a kid again. Not all the stories are that light-hearted, or have light-hearted moments like that, but it was still fun to read.

I loved reading these stories, and they run the gamut. I think they best show off the character of the 4th Doctor, and less so the 6th, as the story with the 7th is too short to really show people what he is like. But the stories are always interesting and entertaining, and you'll smile, if not laugh. Highly recommended.

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