Doctor Who: The Autonomy Bug, Happy Deathday & TV Action! Review

It’s time to end both the Glorious Dead graphic novel and the era of black and white Who comics as we take a look at three light-hearted adventures that originally came out in between and after the titular Glorious Dead, but were all collected at the back of the GN for pacing purposes. Autonomy Bug is three issues long and was the final B+W strip, while the other two are more one-off celebratory efforts… but are any of the three worth a read? Let’s find out!

Synopsis (of “The Autonomy Bug”):

The Doctor and Izzy arrive in a house of robot correction led by Andrelina Hastoff, someone who believes robot sentience is a virus that must be eradicated. Can The Doctor change her mind, and will Izzy survive her time with the “crazy” resident robots?

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

… Yep, all seems pretty normal here.

“The Autonomy Bug”, which is technically the last story release-order-wise, but the first of the three in this GN release, is a good bit of fun. The Doctor and Izzy arrive in what amounts to an insane asylum for robots, their “insanity” being believing they’re human and capable of free thought. It’s full of cartoony imagery, a jokey pair of henchmen (the really stupid one and the sarcastic one, a classic duo!) and basically Cruella Deville in Andrelina Hastoff facing off against a very “silly” bunch of robots who act like humans. Izzy ends up with the robots, and when they realise she’s human (by her screaming while they try and pull her arms off) they stop and befriend her, thinking she’s therefore human “like them”. Meanwhile The Doctor watches as Andrelina “corrects” a robot by resetting it to factory settings, robbing it of its new-found sentience, and is disgusted. (a lot of quote marks in this paragraph, sorry about that…)

As you might guess, Izzy leads a robot revolution and Andrelina is “overthrown”, though the robot’s leader is killed (if he was ever truly alive… which is the point of this story!) in the process. We end with a flash-forward and see a tiny duck robot that Izzy took care of is reciting the story to a bunch of robots while a robot society is thriving behind it. Like I said, it’s a fun, harmless story, and a definite calming come-down after the heavy 10 issues that came before it.

“Happy Deathday!” is a weird “35th Anniversary” story (which as one of the writers points out in the back of the GN, isn’t even a thing, really…) that’s all about having a bit of a laugh with the then eight doctors being stylised as if they were in the popular comic “MAD”. The Beige Guardian (who is clearly modelled after David Hyde Pierce) has paired each of The Doctors off and sent them to face deadly enemies from their past, which they all quite easily defeat while interacting in often legitimately funny ways. The Fourth and Seventh Doctors in particular have very amusing dialogue, and the Sixth and Second face off with Davros and have some properly weird scenes. It is legitimately funny, and at just one issue is perfect for what it is. The Beige Guardian is defeated by the Eighth and First just by making him depressed, but then it all turns out to be a computer game Izzy is playing in the TARDIS, which is… erm, odd. But whatever! It was good for laugh, in case you couldn’t tell already…

The Bad:

Well, from all the interviews I’ve seen/read of Mr. Baker, I completely buy this dialogue being actual dialogue repurposed for this story…

“TV Action!” is just like “Happy Deathday” except it’s to celebrate Doctor Who Magazine’s 20th Anniversary, but given they just did a DWM celebratory one-off recently (“A Life of Matter and Death” in honour of the 250th issue), they were somewhat stuck for ideas. Sadly they went with one of my least favourite tropes and had The Doctor and Izzy arrive on “our” Earth and end up interacting with Tom Baker dressed as The Doctor on set, and ends with The Doctor reading an issue of DWM… I get it, it’s a funny light-hearted thing, and seeing Beep the Meep get driven mad by actual reused Tom Baker nonsense was funny, but I always dislike this kind of straight up fourth wall breaking, even if it was just a one-off fun anniversary thing.

The Continuity:

Funny how these cartoonish images of The Doctor are still closer than some of the images of the character in other, more straight comics…

Nothing really. Just three stand-alone comedy-based stories. I mean “Happy Deathday” had a bunch of brief continuity references, and Beep the Meep in “TV Action!” is a DWM classic who first appeared in “and the Star Beast”, but generally, there isn’t much to say…

Overall Thoughts:

I would like to see Peter Davison’s calm and friendly Doctor toss a cricket ball at an old woman in real life… that sounded harsh, but it would be funny, admit it!

The Autonomy Bug is a fun three-issue comedown after the heavy Glorious Dead, Happy Deathday! is a fun single-issue gag comic, and even TV Action! is harmless, though I personally always dislike “characters meet the actors who play them” storylines. Basically, it’s hard to be too harsh on any of them really, they do what they set out to accomplish and aren’t meant to be taken seriously.

“The Autonomy Bug” and “Happy Deathday!”:

TV Action!”:

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