DW: The Keep / Fire and Brimstone Review

It’s fitting that the first Eighth Doctor DWM comic story after the already-covered Endgame is one that features the Threshold, given it was finally reading Ground Zero that made me decide to cover them in between the Lost Stories. What I’d forgotten about though was the inclusion of The Daleks, who I’d only remembered appearing in these Eighth Doctor strips when they become colour. Do all these elements (and more!) make a cohesive story? Let’s find out!

Synopsis:

Shortly after arriving on Earth in the 51st century, The Doctor and Izzy are greeted by Marquez, the android servant of Crivello, an aged scientist only kept alive by his complete immersion in a nutrient tank. Crivello is attempting to create an artificial sun for a new solar system for humanity after Earth is engulfed by solar flares…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Is there anything more sci-fi sounding than “The Special Weapons Daleks of Phalanx 49 rise up out of the Hive” ?

This is an interesting set up, as The Keep acts as a two-issue prologue to the five-issue “Fire and Brimstone”. In it The Doctor and Izzy arrive in a Mad Max style dystopia full of crazy gangs and seek refuge in a large protected dome. There they meet Marquez and his master Crivello, who has put all his effort into creating a new artificial sun that humanity can use to create a whole new solar system, but it’s missing something. Marquez soon pushes The Doctor into the makeshift star and to everyone’s surprise he soon comes out of it after having communicated and even bonded with what is actually a living sun. He directs it to the crab nebula and soon the rest of humanity follows it in makeshift ships, apart from Marquez and Crivello, who stay behind… so Marquez can kill his master and toss him off a cliff, mysteriously…

This takes us to Fire and Brimstone, which takes place on the “Satelloid” known as Icarus Falling, which is rotating around the artificial sun created in The Keep some 200 years after that story. Yes, even Icarus Falling’s leader, Ptolemy Muttonchops, shows that the Mad Max style leftovers of humanity that followed this sun established some questionable societies on these equally artificial planets, which was a fun idea. The Doctor and Izzy are pleased to see everything worked out, but are soon greeted by an invading army of Daleks. As The Doctor tries to help Muttonchops protect his Satelloid (now there’s a weird sentence!) Izzy soon finds out that one of the people on the planet is a member of the Threshold, who are apparently there to take out The Daleks on behalf of a race whose payment is a mysterious box with a certain seal of Rassilon engraved on it!

This rather lovely piece of artwork is the only part of “The Keep” I could find…

We soon find out that Marquez has been working for The Daleks all along, the artificial sun being the ideal object to create a rift into other dimensions which the Daleks want to use in order to destroy “imperfect” alternate timeline versions of themselves, which has to be the height of Dalek insanity. The alt. universe Daleks begin pouring in through the rift before the “this” universe Daleks can attack them, while Marquez is killed by Threshold member Sister Chastity after he tries to grab her special box (which is not a sexual innuendo). The Doctor soon sees no other option but to use his link with the false star to tell it to go supernova and take everybody out, Izzy (who at this point has stolen the mysterious box) soon joins him in evacuating, and Chastity informs The Doctor he won this time, and that makes him and the Threshold 1-1, so a tiebreaker will happen soon…

Full of great artwork on top of the fun twisty story, this is the first (of many) great Eighth Doctor comic epics…

The Bad:

Can’t honestly think of anything. The story is well paced and the artwork is on form throughout…

The Continuity:

Love the look on The Doctor’s face. Despite having faced them 1,000 times on Audio, this was the first time McGann’s Doctor actually faced his deadliest foe…

As already mentioned, The Threshold first appeared in “Ground Zero”, the events of which are mentioned here. Who sent the mysterious box is revealed in “The Final Chapter”, where as the Threshold themselves and the whole story arc comes to a close with “Wormwood”.

Confusingly “The Keep” takes place in the 51st Century, complete with references to Magnus Greel of Fourth Doctor TV story “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, but instead of an ice age-crippled Earth with loads of mega-country alliances it’s a barren Earth as people have left on large space arks after solar flares ravaged its surface. This is the description of the Earth seen in the equally classic Fourth Doctor TV story “The Ark in Space”, which takes place in 16,087, some nine thousand years later. I guess writer Alan Barnes got things a bit mixed up!

Not much else links this with anything else, apart from a mention of the New Earth System, a bunch of planets that were seen in the Fourth Doctor Comic “The Dogs of Doom”, which also featured The Daleks. It is unrelated to the New Earth seen in later Tenth Doctor TV episodes, for the record…

Overall Thoughts:

Sometimes you see a panel and just think “Ouch.”

This story is the kind of large-scale crazy Eighth Doctor comic I remember and love. While maybe not on the kind of universal scale like some of the later ones, the mix of crazy humans, Daleks of all sorts and the Threshold make for a great time. Strap yourselves in, because it only gets bigger and crazier from here! (for the major stories, anyway…)

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