Here we go then, the titular story and one of those infamous things you hear about as you start to dive deeper into fandom. While I won’t spoil the twist here, I have a spoiler warning in the review part for a reason, you’ve no doubt heard about why this story is so infamous at some point in your Who travels. Still, beyond THAT reason, is the story any good? Does it serve as a good lead in to the fantastic DWM Eighth Doctor comic run? Let’s find out!
The Seventh Doctor and Ace walk into an ambush in London’s Notting Hill Carnival — and discover that a hidden power has been manipulating them for a very long time…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The as-full-as-I-could-get-it version of the cover!
The plot has some really interesting ideas in it. Basically these beings known as The Threshold can open portals in between any dimension and gladly do so to any client who pays well enough. Their latest job has seen them open a portal to “Humanity’s Collective Consciousness” at the request of the Lobri, beings that feed on negative emotion. It’s interesting, and I’m already familiar with the Threshold from later comics (that have already been released, how very Doctor Who of them!) so it was nice seeing their debut. They’re cocky, arrogant and extremely powerful. A great foe.
Peri, Susan and Sarah were spoken to off-panel during previous stories, and thanks to the Threshold having unique speech bubbles, we soon realise it was them, and they did more than talk to them. The trio of companions, as well as Ace, are thrown into the Collective Consciousness to be fed to the Lobri first, the fact they’ve already travelled to other dimensions makes them able to survive there. The Seventh Doctor, very much his older TV Movie self, gets caught up in this and finds out what’s happened to his past and present companions and so steals a ring from the Threshold member known as Isaac and uses it to ram his TARDIS through the dimensional barriers and into the Collective Consciousness. Sarah and Ace have broken free, but Peri and Susan are having a rather unpleasant time of it…
The Doctor defeats one Lobri, but gets immobilized, leading to Ace doing her best to take one down, getting pinned in place and, yes, blowing herself up to destroy it. She dies in The Doctor’s arms as the other companions say how seeing The Doctor fail like that shows them that their journeys could actually end badly. The Doctor confronts the last Lobri and lets it feed on his anger long enough for Susan to literally rematerialise the TARDIS INSIDE the creature, ripping it to shreds. The Doctor puts his companions back to their right places in time (and no memories of the event), and then confronts Isaac, giving him a warning that he’ll stop them. Isaac simply responds that “The Threshold will be ready for him”.
The broken umbrella really sells it.
There we have it, the end of the DWM comics from the classic era, leading right into the TV Movie and the Eighth Doctor comic run’s first story. It’s certainly a cracker, that’s for sure. Amazing artwork, twisting story, and quite the shocking moment with Ace’s death… at the time. That’s the thing I mentioned in my opening paragraph that you can’t escape hearing about once you start to delve deeper beyond the TV show. If you’re a “must fit everything into one continuity” kind of guy then this is one story that makes things difficult, especially now the older Ace in charge of “A Charitable Earth” is an established thing.
Luckily I’m an “experience any Doctor Who I can and not really care about the loose ends” kind of guy. I’ll put stories in order of when I think they happened, but if something really can’t fit in, then I just say some time alteration caused the event to undo. “Blame the Time War” is a bit of a joke for this sort of thing, but why not? There is also an Ace clone created at some point that people think is the one that died here, which also works. Either way, it’s a great story that you should definitely go out of your way to read!
… Nope. It’s one of those stories I can’t really fault. I think the only thing you could complain about is Ace’s death and how DWM shouldn’t have “taken the liberty”, but that doesn’t matter in the series about history being altered by time travel. If you want to class it as “non-canon” that’s fine too, but still read it!
“Holy crap!” …. That’s about all I could say when I saw this page.
Peri was taken during “The Curse of the Scarab”, Susan during “Operation Proteus” and Sarah during “Black Destiny”, all comics that were released leading up to this, and all comics that are in the Graphic Novel along with this story, helpfully enough!
There are a few references to “The Movie” here, beyond just the Doctor’s clothes. The TARDIS interior is partially destroyed, implying The Doctor will change it to the one featured in the TV movie, and The Doctor claims to be “more human than you think” to the Threshold, and enters the Human Collective Consciousness despite being warning that anything alien would struggle to do so, both hinting at the now famous “Half Human, on my mother’s side” quote.
To be continued… in the equally fantastic Eighth Doctor run!
Ground Zero needs to be experienced by as many fans as possible. The artwork is gorgeous, the script mature and legitimately interesting, and the action heavy and exciting. I always sing the praises of the Eighth Doctor DWM comic run (and rightfully so!) but now I see that the streak started here, and was very rarely bettered.