Doctor Who: Throwback – The Soul of a Cyberman, Ship of Fools and Unnatural Born Killers Review

We quickly make a detour from the travels of The Doctor and Izzy as the next story in this run is “Unnatural Born Killers”, but in order to understand THAT story we have to look at two far older backup strips called “Throwback: The Soul of a Cyberman” and “Ship of Fools” (thankfully included in this graphic novel!) as all three stories tell the tale of Kroton the Cyberman, a member of the Cyber Race who regains his humanity and searches for friends and meaning, his original memories lost. Interested? Read on! … Not interested? Skip it, but you’ll be wondering who the hell Kroton is in a few stories time…

Synopsis (of “Throwback: The Soul of a Cyberman”):

On the planet Mondaran, Willoway leads the resistance fighters against the Cybermen, conquerors of the planet. Reinforcements are called from Telos, including Junior Cyber-Leader Kroton, but soon something quite incredible happens…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Hmmm… Not entirely sure a rock will do much mate, but top marks for effort.

The opening story, Throwback, is a good idea made into a fun mini-strip. Kroton sees a rebel named Willoway sacrifice himself rather than betray his allies in interrogation and it sparks something in the Junior Cyber-Leader’s head, something that eventually makes him take the side of the rebels when they’re betrayed by generic-as-hell evil businessman Zarek. As Kroton and the rebels escape he starts to regain more and more of his humanity (or whatever-anity), though not his memories, that’s a key point later in his story arc. He soon joins up with rebel leaders Pendar and Marilka and the three plan to defeat the Cybermen and create a new world where Kroton could live among them (the ex-Cyberman knowing full well that the mere sight of him would cause most races to attack him). Sadly with his power running low, Kroton stole a nearby shuttle that would’ve given his allies away to his “people” and put them in danger, and flew off into space, his power soon running out entirely, leaving him floating in space…

“Ship of Fools” is a great mini-story. Basically Kroton’s ship wanders into a space anomaly that has held a ship (called the “Flying Dutchman II”) for a good while. The humans on the ship revive Kroton and as a repayment he restart’s the ship’s computer and steers the ship out of the void… only to find out that the Flying Dutchman II has been in the anomaly for 658 years and therefore all his new human friends turn to dust. Kroton realises he’s back to floating in space by himself, only awake for the experience this time. Quite grim, but an interesting little tale.

The Bad:

A really good tale… sort of wasted by his later return, but there you go…

It’s hard to be too harsh on “Unnatural Born Killers” as it’s literally only 7-pages long, but even so, it isn’t that interesting. Set sometime after “Ship of Fools”, Kroton is recharging on a planet that gets attacked by Sontarans. He wakes up, beats up a few Sontarans, destroys their colonisation ship and then walks away from the celebrations. That’s it, but given the length, it’s enough. The sole purpose of this story was to reintroduce Kroton to DWM readers, given it had been nearly two decades between Ship of Fools and this, and in that way it works. Kroton is noticeably more quipy and jokey in his internal monologuing here, but also keen to point out his avoiding of celebrating people as it reminds him of what he’s lost: his own memories and very possibly a family. Given I’d just read two really good short stories though, this stood out as being … average. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the artstyle compared the previous two stories either, and Kroton’s personality change is certainly jarring.

The Continuity:

A Cyberman vs. some Sontarans… Sure, why not?

As you’ve probably become aware of by now, Kroton reappears in the Eighth Doctor comic “The Company of Thieves”, where he actually becomes a companion. That’s why the 7-pager was created in between “The Fallen” and “The Road to Hell” in the first place…

As for why he’s called Kroton when he’s a Cyberman and not a Kroton, I have no idea. I’ve never seen an explanation anywhere!

Overall Thoughts:

Awww… Poor lonely Kroton… is a weird sentence to type.

Kroton is an interesting creation. His first two stories are more intimate, they show a Cyberman regain some emotions and almost become child-like in his newfound wonder of feelings and the world around him. In “Unnatural Born Killers” he’s becomes a quiping superhero type, but with a tragic side still evident. I know which version I enjoyed more, but neither was bad. Either way, this is how Kroton The Cyberman was born, and boy, he’s destined for greater things…

Throwback: The Soul of a Cyberman & Ship of Fools:

Unnatural Born Killers:

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