So two stories ago we saw the (re)introduction of Kroton The Cyberman, then the previous story we resumed following The Doctor and Izzy, so now it’s only natural that our next story sees the two come together! The Company of Thieves is more of a light-hearted affair, which given the story that’s about to come next, only makes sense! Is it good though, or does it exist purely to set up something greater? Let’s find out!
The TARDIS materialises aboard a cargo freighter just as space pirates attack and slaughter the crew. The pirate ship is itself destroyed by an energy beam that draws the cargo freighter into a nearby asteroid belt. While trying to avoid the pirates, the Doctor and Izzy are confronted by a Cyberman hiding in the freighter’s cargo hold
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
This was also the plan for introducing fellow companion Rose to the TV series, until they remembered she wouldn’t survive the electrocution…
Let’s get the reason for this strip out of the way: Kroton emerges from a crate in a cargo hold of a ship that’s been overtaken by pirates, and a ship that The Doctor and Izzy have just arrived in. The Doctor sees the Cyberman and immediately grabs a nearby electrical cable and lethally fries its chest. Lucky for Kroton (and The Doctor’s karma) he survives as he’s had improvements done to his armour over the years he’s been travelling. Eventually the three reunite and hit it off quite quickly, The Doctor baffled how a Cyberman could’ve regained his emotion and Izzy only seeing a new friend. It works well, and the new more quipy Kroton works well with equally sarcastic and wise-cracking Izzy.
As for the actual story? Well, you have a group of Space Pirates right out of a cartoon, complete with cowardly leader who only teleports in when it’s safe and his clearly more intelligent and sarcastic second-in-command. They’re raiding and killing the crew of a ship when their own ship gets destroyed, making them rather angry, soon blaming The Doctor, who he himself first blames the Cybermen (as it was in between electrocuting and being reintroduced to Kroton) before getting to the root of the problem: Tobal Reist, a scientist who created a weapon so powerful it destroyed his entire planet, only keeping himself alive in a small bubble on a piece of planetary rubble.
Certainly not your regular Cyberman!
To make matters worse, the weapon is sentient and obeys whomever wields it. Horstrogg, the previously mentioned cowardly space pirate leader, kills Reist and takes the weapon for himself, but before he can do anything Kroton and Izzy outsmart him long enough for Izzy to hold the weapon and tell it to destroy itself. The weapon, having to obey the order, does just that, which soon collapses the bubble holding the debris together, leaving Horstrogg stranded (his teleporter stolen) and The Doctor, Izzy and Kroton to escape aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor doing what he’d never thought possible: welcoming a Cyberman on board.
It’s lightweight and more geared towards humour, but it works. All it wanted to do was get Kroton on the TARDIS, and it does that while also being a good laugh.
Erm… “Not your regular Cyberman!” again, I guess? (There was a distinct lack of pictures for this story…)
I didn’t really dig the artstyle. It’s the same as Kroton’s reintroduction story, but while that was just 7 pages, this was three issues long. It worked better because the story was more comedic, but as I always say, it’s a taste thing. It’s not bad artwork, just stylised in a way I didn’t really enjoy.
The only real link is the previously mentioned trio of Kroton stories that starts with “Throwback: The Soul of a Cyberman”. The only other connection is with the next story, “The Glorious Dead”…
An action-packed finale!
The Company of Thieves is a fine little comedic sidestep that ties Kroton up with central Doctor Who and has him begin travels with The Doctor and Izzy. It’s just a little bit of fun before the heavier next story, and for that it does its job well.