Marvel Comics
The 1993 Yearbook

Published 1992 Cover image
ISBN1 85400 284 8

Starring the first seven Doctors and various companions


A Review by Finn Clark 6/5/04

Oh dear, oh dear. This book is a laugh, but pretty dumb in places. I'm not talking about the Justin Richards articles which seem to think that the world needed a catalogue of every alien invasion of Earth or every single time someone got hypnotised. (Andrew Pixley's similar article on the sonic screwdriver is more interesting; it's kinda cool to see all of the screwdriver's various uses collected together in one list.) I'm sure Who novices might have found those articles fascinating.

Hey, I'm not even talking about David Howe's articles about bizarro Who merchandise. Those made me laugh, and they're meant to. I liked the light touch with which they're written. No, the mind-bogglingness involves eleven pages of "this is a Sontaran", "this is an Axon", "this is the anatomy of a robot Yeti" and so forth. The 1980 Raymond Cusick design for updated Daleks just makes us think better of the 1963 originals. (A Dalek's various stalks are kinda characterful, while decorative hemispheres around the skirt section are actually a good move.)

The only non-fiction piece that anyone might ever want to reread is John Nathan-Turner's article on the Years tapes and other special videos (e.g. Shada). It's not wildly gripping, but it's interesting from a historical standpoint since its author is no longer with us and those old VHS specials are almost like the Neanderthal ancestors of modern DVD extras.

There's more fiction than the previous year, not all good. The comic strip is a huge improvement, being a 16-page 7th Doctor and New Ace Dalek story by Paul Cornell and Lee Sullivan. It's hardly deep, but it's sixteen pages of fun with Sullivan's dynamic lines and accurate Daleks. (One wouldn't think pepperpots could be difficult for a professional artist to draw, but check out the various misbegotten attempts over the years.)

The short stories are Brief Encounters, as last year, but the author line-up is less stellar and the results are mixed. Hartnell's encounter (Cambridge Revisited) is kinda bleah, offering little beyond "the Doctor meets Professor Chronotis!", while Dream A Little Dream For Me manages to out-wank even last year's Troughton offering. Country of the Blind is by Paul Cornell and as nicely written as you'd expect, but it's just another farewell for Liz Shaw as never seen on TV and nothing we haven't seen in greater depth elsewhere. Then there's Marc Platt's Encounter on Burnt Snake Flat, which shows us Tegan's post-Who life and just ain't fun.

The standout stories are from old favourites. Terrance Dicks astonishes by writing a terrific Tom Baker in Farewells, but of course the best story by light-years is Colin Baker's. A Tourist Invasion is every bit as great as his The Deal last year and I can't understand why he hasn't written more. The man's a born entertainer. I'm completely serious when I say that as a short story writer, Colin Baker wipes the floor with everyone else in this book - including experienced TV scriptwriters. (The Age of Chaos showed that he wasn't quite the same when writing longer stories in script form, but in short bursts of prose he's glorious.)

Overall... somewhat silly but not without highpoints. The concept of the Brief Encounter outstays its welcome, showing itself fanwank-prone, but there are gems. This ain't the Second Coming or anything, but it's another entertaining Yearbook.