Titan Comics does the Third Doctor with Heralds of Destruction, and boy do they ever do it justice! Rare for Titan Comics, this story has consistently great artwork and a story that while it has some strong continuity nods, still tells a really good tale. So let’s take a look at what will, sadly, be a very rare Third Doctor comic story!
When something enormous crashes into Bedfordshire, the Doctor, Jo Grant, and the forces of UNIT under Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart mobilise immediately – and find themselves in the middle of a pitched battle against a terrifying invader… But the shocking face that awaits their return to base may tip the whole world off its axis!
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
A sadly realistic portrayal of Jo’s contribution to the team, a lot of the time…
The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) – Having recently gotten access to his TARDIS’s time travel ability, The Doctor has been enjoying hoping around the Universe again, but this incarnation is now unable to keep himself away from the struggles of UNIT on Earth, and once again, Earth benefits from his hanging out at UNIT HQ…
Jo Grant (Katy Manning) – Jo is a member of UNIT, and although she may not be the brightest bulb in the box, she is more than capable of standing on her own feet when push comes to shove.
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) – The Brigadier is the head of this particular branch of UNIT, and is strict in his leadership, though not without his soft side, he very rarely lets it slip.
Captain Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) – Captain Yates is still quite young for his position and has a thing for Jo, though neither are sure how to pursue it. His mind on other matters is still malleable, however…
Sgt. Benton (John Levene) – Benton is a tall member of UNIT whose main characteristic is being a genuinely nice guy. Awww.
The Master (Roger Delgado) – The Master is an old friend of the Doctor who is also a notorious criminal. This time, however, he may not be the biggest threat on the chessboard…
Ramón Salamander (Patrick Troughton) – Last seen being sucked out of the TARDIS and into the time vortex, Salamander has found himself on Earth, and with a thirst for vengeance… and profit, that too. Oh and time travel, which will lead to profit and vengeance, so hooray!
Plus many more!
LOVED this scene. I was so happy a scan of it existed for me to use.
Where to start on this one… All the regular Third Doctor era characters are present, look like themselves, and act exactly like themselves. That’s the best praise I can give to start off. I love some of the interactions here, from classic Doctor-Brigadier banter, to heart-warming Jo-Doctor talks, to several great scenes (one such scene pictured above) where the Brigadier and The Master face off, with the latter gaining respect for his now old foe.
Inserting Ramón Salamander from Second Doctor story “The Enemy of the World” was a decision that could have easily spun a fun Third Doctor story into what is often called “fanwank”, but thankfully it somehow works here. He first appears pretending to be the Second Doctor, a role reversal from the TV story, and it works for a time, until he eventually reveals his true name and backstory. It then leads into a fun ending where Salamander travels back to 1868 to try and gain the influence over Parliament but is stopped by both The Doctor and The Master… the latter of which then tries to use the situation to his own advantage before being stopped (because… well, yeah…) It all works really well as a story, somehow.
At first the threat seemed to be a technological race rather comically called the “Micro Machines” by UNIT. They didn’t accomplish much, but it was fun to see a large scale UNIT vs. invading force battle again.
There was also a scene with The Doctor going into Jo’s mind, which was fun (and trippy!), plus a great little continuity nod when Captain Yates, upon seeing what London was like in the 1800s, wishes that current Britain was like that Golden Age again, setting him down a path that will eventually lead to his decision to betray UNIT in the TV story “Invasion of the Dinosaurs”.
This will be a confusing panel if you haven’t read the story already…
The only thing I can think of is a controversial line in the first chapter / issue, where The Doctor says “As I said to Pol Pot, ‘Polly’, I said…” and then is interrupted. Now, I get that this is meant to be the same early-to-mid 70s era the TV series was at the time, and maybe at the time people just saw him as a foreign leader or whatever, but … erm… can’t see The Doctor, even the Third Doctor, who has name dropped a few politically questionable people on the TV show before, mentioning hanging out with a man who sat back and worked 25% of his own population to literal DEATH, but there you go. Maybe the end of the sentence was “I said “You’re a complete bastard!” and then I kicked him square in the nads!”.
All that’s missing is a speech bubble with “HAI!!” written in it…
I think I covered the main ones in the “Good” section, but just to recap: Ramón Salamander is the lead antagonist of Second Doctor TV story “The Enemy of the World”, where he is coincidentally an exact doppelganger of the Second Doctor. In the end he is thrown out of the TARDIS and into the time vortex, seemingly to his death. In this story it is revealed that he actually ended up landing in the same then-contemporary London that the Doctor and co. did in the following story.
Also Captain Yates’ vision of a new Golden Age is a retroactive hint towards his betrayal of UNIT in Third Doctor story “Invasion of the Dinosaurs”, where he tries to help a group of scientists reverse time back to more primitive and plant-filled times.
There are several other little nods in the background, from era tropes like The Master disguising himself using a rubber-like mask and The Doctor’s Venusian aikido, to little bits like a scientist talking about “”Ingram’s work at the Newton”, which is a reference to Third Doctor TV story “The Time Monster”.
If anything could be described as a “love letter” to an era of the show, The Heralds of Destruction is the perfect example. All the characters look and act like they did, the story is really fun, and it doesn’t go too far with the crazy continuity links. If you’ve ever had even the slightest interest in the Third Doctor era of the show, I can’t recommend you pick up this story fast enough.