By Rob McCow

What’s the story called?

The Deal (Doctor Who in The Deal)
 

The Collector

This story first appeared in issue #53 of Doctor Who Monthly, released in June 1981. It got a new cover and full colour reprint in issue 11 of the US Marvel Doctor Who Comic. If you want to read The Deal today, buy the Doctor Who graphic novel ‘Dragon’s Claw’, published in 2004 by Panini Books. You’ll find it contained therein.
 

The World Shapers

Writer – Steve Parkhouse

Artist – Dave Gibbons

Editor – Alan McKenzie
 

Fellow Travellers

Apart from the Doctor and some squiddy aliens glimpsed in one frame, the only character in this story is Warrior: Trooper 1000AX/76 Corporal 3rd Class of the 12th Trouble ‘chuters. He’s an Ork-like warrior of the Millennium Wars, with pointy ears and sharp teeth. He kills – they pay. That’s the deal!
 

The Deal

On a tiny, barren planet, the Doctor bumps into a warrior from the Millennium Wars, or rather the warrior’s spaceship bumps into the TARDIS. The collision creates some kind of turbulence around the TARDIS that makes it difficult for people who enter the turbulence to move. The warrior’s ship crashes with a ‘WHUMMP!’ and explodes. The warrior survives and is furious with the Doctor, setting his electric skull-spider on him while he forces his way into the TARDIS.

The Doctor over-rides the skull-spider’s hypnotic control and forces it to tell him about the Warrior. A pursuit ship appears and the warrior pushes the Doctor into the TARDIS, ordering him to fly off. The Doctor explains that he can’t move until he’s repaired the gravitational stabiliser. The pursuit ship has fired two snooper missiles at the TARDIS, but the gravity field causes them to blow up with a ‘B-BOOOOM!’ before they hit their target. The Warrior jumps out of the TARDIS and shoots a vulnerable part of the attacking ship (‘FWAM!), causing it to explode. The Doctor realises that the warrior is a megalomaniac-killing-machine and locks him out of the TARDIS.

The Warrior destroys two Revenger missiles with a ‘WHUMP!’ and a ‘CRUMP!’ Meanwhile, the Doctor repairs the gravitic stabiliser. The Warrior is horrified when a king-size pursuit ship arrives. The pursuit ship blasts him, leaving him dying in the dirt as the TARDIS dematerialises.
 

TV Action

It’s a good thing this was broadcast between seasons, because if they were lucky, readers might have forgotten what Doctor Who on TV was like. The Deal is very different from Doctor Who in general, but it’s oceans away from the Season 18-19 adventures.
 

4-Dimensional Vistas

The art keeps it interesting. The zoom in on the TARDIS on the first page is clever and effective, as is the first shot of the warrior jumping out of the frame and blasting at the Doctor. The hypnotic skull-spider is quite a cool creation too.

Apart from that, it’s fairly standard fare. The pursuit ships are dull but chunky. There’s one shot of the TARDIS where the perspective is wrong.

There are absolutely loads of sound effects in this story, with explosions and gunfire all over the shop. Gibbons is usually quite restrained, but everything makes a solid noise in this strip, from the ‘SLAM!’ as the warrior hits the Doctor against the TARDIS to the ‘THRRMMM!’ of the Pursuit Ship. As a result I keep seeing the words ‘KLACKY-KLACKY-KLACK’ appearing over my keyboard as I type this review. It might have all been in Steve Parkhouse’s script.

The final frame with the warrior lying face down as the TARDIS dematerialises is excellent.
 

End of The Line

Would Sir care for a wafer-thin story? Unlike After-Eights however, The Deal doesn’t leave much of a pleasant taste in the mouth. Steve Parkhouse’s writing seems to be a lot bleaker than Steve Moore’s, which can be excellent when he’s being inventive, but The Deal the story is a pointless exercise in gratuitous violence, with nothing to say about the matter. Coming straight after Spider God, this stories lack of message or any kind of moral centre is even more irritating.

Worst of all the Doctor’s morality comes into question, because at the end of the story he leaves the warrior outside the TARDIS to die. It could be argued that the Doctor wouldn’t have known that the Warrior was going to get killed. On the other hand, if the Warrior hadn’t crashed into the TARDIS in the first place, he’d probably have escaped to fight another day.

Nasty, short and brutish, this story has very little to commend it.


 

Follow That TARDIS!

This is Steve Parkhouse’s first story for Doctor Who Monthly. He stays with the comic strips until 1985.

The TARDIS has an Inter-grommiter that goes adrift, causing the gravitational anomaly.

The Doctor uses hypnotism on the robot spider that probes his mind and pockets at the same time.

The origins of the Millennium Wars are revealed in Davison’s first story, The Tides of Time.

While rooting through the Doctor’s pockets, the robot spider finds ‘strange glutinous objects’ that stick to its tentacles including a toffee apple, stick of rock and a bag of jelly babies.