TV Comic – The First Doctor. The Therovian Quest

We can file the first few instalments of this strip under “blatant padding”. Doctor Who, Gillian and John crash-land on a rather inhospitable, moon-like planet. Like the moon it has hardly any gravity, although it must have oxygen otherwise the time-travellers (who aren’t wearing spacesuits) would have expired the minute they set foot outside.

I don’t think we need to get too worked up about scientific accuracy though, as shortly afterwards they are all menaced by a large dinosaur-like creature. Given how bleak the planet looks I’m not entirely sure what it feeds on (passing space-travellers maybe?). There’s a temporary respite from this silliness when the Doctor and the others take shelter in a nearby space-ship. The alien inhabitant doesn’t seem friendly though. “Don’t move or I’ll blast you to atoms!”

But things take an unexpected turn after the alien, called Grig, is revealed to be a good chap after all. After the single-minded villainy of The Klepton Parasites, it’s nice to have a story where an apparently threatening alien turns out to be benign. Grig tells them his story and it’s a very strange one.

All the people on his planet, Theros, have been gripped by a strange weakness, meaning that they loll about all day long with no desire to do anything. For some reason he’s the only one not affected so he’s set off in his rocket ship to look for help. Yes, this is a little odd but after several panels of the Doctor being menaced by a whacking great dinosaur it seems less so. Touched by Grig’s story, they all return to Theros to see if they can help.

If this was the television show then you know what would happen next – the Doctor would fiddle with some test tubes and find a cure. Alas, the comic strip Doctor lacks the skills of his television counterpart and is stumped. But don’t panic! The Doctor may be no use but the oldest living Therosian, Wodan, suddenly pipes up to let them know that there is a cure – a rare moss from Ixon, the planet of ice. Now if only he’d thought to let Grig know this before he set out the first time (and the Doctor had travelled straight to Theros) we’d have been spared all that nonsense with the dinosaur …

After being introduced to Grig, a menacing alien who turns out not to be menacing after all, there’s another reversal after the Ixons are revealed as baddies (they’d initially seemed reasonable enough). But no matter, after Doctor Who, John, Gillian and Grig have braved the ice caves they’re not going to let a few Ixons stand in their way. Doctor Who has a handy box of matches (maybe he didn’t kick the smoking habit like his tv counterpart?) which enables him to create a heavy smokescreen to aid their escape.

Barking mad best sums this story up. The interlude with the dinosaur, a planet of lethargic aliens, the hunt for the magic moss, it just keeps on springing surprises. But compared to some later TV Comic strips I guess this is quite sensible fare.

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