Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Comic Strip Time Team: Operation Proteus


"I make it a habit not to interfere, but on this occasion I believe I have done well."

Writer: Gareth Roberts
Artist: Martin Geraghty
Published in DWM Issues 231-233 (1995)

TARDIS Crew: First Doctor and Susan
Chronology: Before 'An Unearthly Child'
Time & Space: Mid-1963, King's Cross, London

Story: Susan witnesses a young man's sudden transformation into a strange alien creature - which promptly dies.  Susan and the Doctor investigate and unearth a top-secret government research established beneath King's Cross station.

There, the Doctor encounters Raldonn, a stranded alien who has been taken in by the British Government and put to work on the creation of illegal chemical weapons.  However Raldonn has secretly been undertaking his own experiments, trying to create a serum that will cause humans to mutate into his own species and providing Raldonn with a co-pilot, allowing him to escape the Earth.

Raldonn releases the serum into the atmosphere and Londoners begin to mutate.  The Doctor engineers a cure to the serum and Raldonn is killed by one of the mutated creatures.

Mark's Remarks:  For a writer who is usually known for the amount of humour in his stories, this is a surprisingly humour-free offering from Gareth Roberts  That's no bad thing though as it fits in with the era of the series where the story is set as well as the First Doctor's character at this point.  While not exactly humourless, the early First Doctor was certainly more detached and distant than he would later become.  Also in keeping with this era, the Doctor is reluctant to get involved with events but is forced into action - something we'll see regularly throughout the first season on TV.

One aspect of the story that I do like is the that the villain of the piece, Raldonn, is actually quite a well-rounded character.  He's not evil for the sake of being evil but someone who is a victim of circumstance and is just doing what he can to get home.  In fact, I had more sympathy for him than I did for the Minister who had forced Raldonn to build illegal weapons for the British Government.  And I think the Doctor felt the same way.

On the whole, this is a good little story, with some nice, suitably atmospheric artwork from Martin Geraghty.  It's a strong start to our marathon although ultimately fairly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.  Well, except for this...

...which is nice little tease for something that we'll be coming back to much, much later.

Next up: A Religious Experience

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