On Things I’ve Been Reading

Doctor Who: The Dave Gibbons Treasury #1
IDW Publishing
Written by Pat Mills & John Wagner
Art by Dave Gibbons

I didn’t need another copy of “The Iron Legion.” The first comic strip published in Doctor Who Weekly, “The Iron Legion” is, according to people who know such things, the most reprinted Doctor Who comic book storyline. I have the story in black-and-white (how it was originally published) and in color (in the Marvel colorization of the early 1980s and the more recent colorization by IDW). What could this comic offer that the previous versions didn’t?

Size and paper quality.

IDW’s Doctor Who: The Dave Gibbons Treasury blows up the artwork to 11″ x 13″ (roughly), even larger than the original publication, and at the large size on heavy glossy paper the artwork shines. Add a cardstock cover, and this is a Doctor Who comic book that is physically impressive, to say nothing of being a work of art.

The cover is not representative of the book’s contents, however. The cover image goes with “Junkyard Demon,” but the stories reprinted here are “The Iron Legion” and “City of the Damned.” “The Iron Legion,” for the few people who have not read it, pits the fourth Doctor against a galaxy-spanning Roman Empire from another dimension. Then, the Doctor finds in the “City of the Damned” a city where emotions are outlawed and he’s been sentenced to death.

Both stories are entertaining. And both stories are dense. Each is told in six or seven chapters of roughly eight pages, and these stories move. There’s an economy of story here that would shame some recent comics writers. In an era when a comic is stretched out to six issues to fill a trade paperback, it’s refreshing to read meaningful and weighty stories that are done within sixty pages.

I hope the Doctor Who: Dave Gibbons Treasury is successful enough to bring about future issues — perhaps “The Tides of Time” in this format or, my personal wish, a John Ridgway issue that reprints “Voyager.” (Of course, that wish is as much for Steve Parkhouse’s writing as it is for Ridgway’s artwork; I think that Parkhouse is second among Doctor Who writers only to Robert Holmes.)

If you’ve never read “The Iron Legion,” this is a pretty nifty way of getting it. If you like Dave Gibbons’ artwork, it looks fantastic in this larger-than-normal format. At the very least, it’s gorgeous to look at.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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