Wormwood is technically the first “big finale” story for the Eighth Doctor’s comics run as well as acting as the end to the Threshold storyline. Kicking off with the “Ninth Doctor” played by Nicholas Briggs (well, using his image, I should say) and only getting more crazy, let’s see how this story reaches its conclusion, shall we?
The Doctor has regenerated, or has he?
The TARDIS arrives in Wormwood, an American village, in 1880. However, the Doctor and his companions soon discover they are not on Earth, but the Moon, and they have been lured into a final confrontation with their old enemies, the Threshold. After three thousand years, they are preparing to step out of the darkness and descend on the whole galaxy. Can Izzy and Fey survive in a world populated by ruthless Threshold agents, and what has happened to the Doctor?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
I wonder if this story is what inspired Russell T. Davies’ “The Next Doctor” TV episode…?
So “The Doctor”, Izzy and Fey arrive in Wormwood, an old Western town on the moon in the 53rd Century… Yep. They meet Abraham White, an old Texan type who soon reveals that he’s the leader of the Threshold, and that this is their base and has been for many, many years, hidden from humanity, and their masterplan is about to come into being. Instead of taking odd jobs from races here and there, they’re going to make space uninhabitable for all spacecraft and then charge people to use their teleportation technology. They’re going to do this using the “Eye of Disharmony”, a large ancient weapon built by White’s other half: The Pariah.
The Threshold’s backstory is then revealed: The Pariah was an ancient Gallifreyan weapon that gained sentience, something Rassilon wasn’t keen on and so he tried to have it destroyed, but it instead crawled into a pod and flew off, soon landing in front of Abraham White, a plain old human. The two made a deal: Pariah would bond with him so it can survive, and White will gain immortality and knowledge. The two built the Threshold this way, giving little bits of Pariah’s power to those they felt would serve the cause well.
Fey gets rather fed up with all this and punches White in the face, something his other half didn’t appreciate, and it all kicks off, but soon the actual Doctor reveals himself and the Briggs Doctor in turn reveals he was Shayde in disguise all along, and that Fey had been tracked by the Threshold, which is why they arranged the ruse, so the actual Doctor could do some digging. The Eye of Disharmony gets activated, turning space from black to white and destroying any spaceships that happen to be away from their planet’s atmosphere at the time (which The Doctor remarks that in the 53rd century is rather a lot…)
The terrifying, if not a little generic-looking Pariah.
Shayde tries to do battle with Pariah, who is a prototype version of what he became, but loses the battle and gets his head crushed. The Pariah soon wipes out the Threshold race and tries to commandeer the TARDIS, but Fey merges with the fallen Shayde, and “Feyde” then battles Pariah.
Meanwhile The Doctor and Izzy take care of the Eye, the latter using Ace’s baseball bat (which is nice symbolism given how this whole thing started) and Feyde defeats Pariah. The Eye of Disharmony then explodes, taking the entire Moon with it (whoops!), and soon Feyde leaves to deal with their new shared existence while The Doctor and Izzy resume their travels together.
*phew*. That’s quite the story, and thankfully does give us an epic, universe-altering finale to the whole Threshold story, plus the whole Fey / Shayde angle is fun. Oh and yes, the streak continues: the art if fantastic.
Such wasted potential…
I think the only thing I didn’t enjoy was, especially after finally reading Ground Zero this time, the story starts with a lot of comedy, and the Threshold themselves are relegated to a near cameos. Abraham White is just a Texas oil barren-type, and his collection of Earth monuments on the moon and the Threshold being really only used to make “life working in the office is a pain” type jokes it was all just… annoying. This was less The Doctor getting revenge on the Threshold and more The Doctor and co. battle a new enemy called The Pariah and the Threshold are wiped out as a consequence.
Also the Briggs Doctor fake-out seems a little silly retrospectively, but I don’t think it hurt the story, so… why not, I guess.
Mostly it’s Threshold stuff, obviously! They first appeared in “Ground Zero”, where Ace was seemingly killed, and reappeared in “Fire and Brimstone” before their final end here. The contents of Rassilon’s box from the middle story is revealed to contain a version of the universal translator circuit that would have given the Threshold the ability to do deals with the entire universe without issue. Threshold member “Sister Chastity” from that story reappears here and is swiftly killed…
Feyde will later reappear in the Eighth Doctor DWM run, in “Me and my Shadow” and “Oblivion” respectively, before having that story arc come to a close in the Twelfth Doctor comic “The Clockwise War” (yes, took quite a while to close that door…)
The moon is destroyed at the end of this story, though later TV stories make this less of a monumental event. Twefth Doctor story “Kill The Moon” shows that the original Moon already broke apart and hatched (Yep…) leaving a new moon egg in its place. Stories with the Ninth Doctor, specifically “The Long Game”, establishes that by the year 200,000 Earth will have five artificial moons. Admittedly, if all five are artificial that does at least seem to suggest the events of Wormwood really do result in the moon’s permanent end…
Just imagining the Nick Briggs haters if this story was released now rather than in the past brings a smile to my face…
“Wormwood” is certainly epic is scope, and has a finale that includes all of space being temporarily destructive and ends with Earth’s moon being destroyed, so … yeah. It’s, as I’ve said for a few of these reviews now, the kind of crazy story I remember loving when I first read these comics. In the grand scheme of the Threshold arc I think it’s a bit of a let-down, which does hurt the rating a bit, but overall it’s more than worth your time tracking this one down!