Doctor Who: The Glorious Dead Review

Now THIS is the story that always comes to mind when I think of the epic, crazy Eighth Doctor DWM comic stories. Time rewritten on a crazy scale, immortal beings, The Master, The Doctor (in bed with Grace?!) and a weird multiversal… dimension… Godly… thing. Does it all come together in the end? Let’s find out!

Synopsis:

The Doctor, Izzy and Kroton are taken to Paradost to find that a religious leader named Morningstar and the Master have joined forces. The Doctor and Kroton must fight them for the Glory, where the protector of the Glory has full powers over space and time…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

This is actually one the more normal things that happens in this story…

The story starts off ominously with a mysterious figure called Esterath wandering the universe in search of… something. We then spend a few issues setting the scene on the planet Paradost, The Doctor, Izzy and Kroton arrive as the planet welcomes a bunch of crazy races to walk around their planet-wide museum, the big event being the unveiling of the final missing page of the holy book belonging to the “Church of the Glorious Dead”. The church’s leader Cardinal Morningstar is the guest of honour and soon gets questioned by The Doctor during a party, who is curious as he’s never heard of the Glorious Dead or their planet of Dhakan.

So to the shock of nobody (who’s reading the story) the Church of the Glorious Dead turn out to be on the evil side, a bunch of followers sacrificing themselves via fire and turning into “Ash Wraiths”, powerful creatures that begin to lay waste to Paradost. The Doctor vanishes, leaving Izzy and Kroton to work with the local population in trying to survive the devastation, having to live in small underground rebel pockets and win small battles. Izzy eventually gets a major victory by changing the weather of the planet to be freezing, thus stopping the fiery Ash Wraiths, but she’s soon Tissue Compressed (but not eliminated!) by The Master, who reveals himself as the mastermind behind the Church of the Glorious Dead. Kroton, who was unable to help, is heartbroken and jumps on board Morningstar’s ship as he heads to his home planet with the Master…

That’s …. a thing alright. Even Spider-Man and… John Hurt’s War Doctor two decades before he existed?!

What was The Doctor doing during all this? He was sent into the “Omniversal Spectrum” and lived a whole bunch of alternate lives, from a regular married life with Grace, to a WB cartoon, to a western, to a cyborg, and back again. When he returns we get an issue or two of shocking revelations, mainly Cardinal Morningstar being Sato Katsura, the samurai The Doctor made immortal a few stories back, and that The Master manipulated him into creating the cult on Earth, meaning Dhakan is actually Earth that was united under the immortal Sato. To make matters all the more crazy, Esterath returns and reveals that he holds power over “The Glory”, an Omniversal viewing platform that can influence all realities, and he’s looking for his successor. The legend says two opposites will do battle over who gains control, and soon The Doctor and The Master begin to do just that in The Glory itself, countless alternate realities, with their own ability to conjure mental images and mind power as their weapons. It’s quite the trippy battle…

During this Kroton emerges and attacks Sato, the two fighting their own battle as Izzy breaks free of the bottle Sato was keeping her in and manages to return herself to regular size. Using several underhanded tactics, like pointing out Earth’s complete rewrite was all due to how he treated Sato, The Master momentarily breaks The Doctor’s will and stabs him, winning the contest… but gaining no power. Now on the former Earth, Esterath is watching the battle between Kroton and Sato, and it’s here The Doctor realises that the fated battle of opposites was actually between them, not himself and The Master: Kroton became near immortal and gained his emotions, Sato became immortal and lost his. Kroton wins the battle, finally remembers his life as a regular person, and then becomes the new keeper of the Glory, basically an omniversal God. Before he leaves to watch over all universes he saves The Doctor’s life, returns The Master to the Eye of Harmony and gives Sato the death he craved, leaving The Doctor and Izzy to head off on adventures new…

So… yeah. Pretty crazy! It’s a good read though, with some great artwork and amazing splash pages.

The Bad:

Good old Kroton, nice chap-turned-Cyberman-turned-omniversal God. That’s quite the life, he should write an autobiography.

At 10 issues I will say it does sometimes drag a bit. An entire issue of The Doctor in alternate realities was a bit much, Izzy’s diary entries during her Doctorless time in the resistance being a whole issue long was fine (though the narrative framework was a little cliché), but then I think there was two issues of just The Master reciting exposition… Basically, it’s all well and good going to epic scope, but sometimes it doesn’t need to be of epic length…

While not really a complaint, I do almost find it annoying that such a big and crazy story was printed in the comics because fighting at the central point of the Omniverse would really be something The Doctor and The Master would mention later, but it oddly hasn’t ever came up again…

The Continuity:

This version of the Master certainly shares his other selves’ love of being overly dramatic…

This incarnation of The Master first appeared in “The Fallen”, the first story in this arc. Likewise Katsura Sato was introduced, and made immortal, in “The Road to Hell”. Throw in Kroton joining the crew in the previous story, “The Company of Thieves” and you can see how this arc was planned. This Master is a little harder to place, given he talks of having last seen The Doctor in San Francisco and escaping the Eye of Harmony, and yet we now know the actual TV Movie Master escaped the Eye in the audio story “The Lifeboat and the Deathboat”. The way I see it is if you say Kroton literally put The Master back in the Eye, as in back in the stolen body. Maybe he even reversed time, which would explain how The Master never mentions “The Glory” again…

While not the omniverse, The Master very nearly gained complete control of this Universe in the 7th Doctor story “The Two Masters”, and would actually gain control of it after this story in the War Master audio “Anti-Genesis”. A whole gaggle of Masters would accidentally end and then save the Universe in the multi-Master 50th Anniversary story “Masterful“, though this incarnation is neither heard from or even referenced, which again makes me believe he was erased whole-sale by Kroton… or you know, “who cared about canon” and all that.

As per usual there are some familiar beats with those used in Russell T. Davies’ era Who. Specifically the last two thirds of “Utopia / The Sound of Drums / The Last of the Time Lords”, where we have an Earth ravaged by a floating foe introduced by The Master, The Doctor’s companion roaming the dystopian Earth alone helping pockets of resistance, and someone shrunk by The Master being kept in a little jar, though is that story it’s The Doctor himself. Obviously there are plenty of differences, I’m not saying he “copied them” or anything (well… not yet.) but it is always fun to see how influential they were.

Overall Thoughts:

… he also shares his other selves’ hatred for being killed… which makes sense, to be fair!

The Glorious Dead is the height of Doctor Who sci-fi insanity, having The Doctor and The Master fight for control of the entire omniverse, and the epic scope is really entertaining, with some great artwork and dialogue. I will say it falls a little short of a 5 rating due to its length, but there’s no doubt it’s an amazing read and something every fan of Who, and especially of The Master, should pick up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s