The Doctor Who Ratings Guide: By Fans, For Fans

Doctor Who Magazine's
Planet of the Dead

From Doctor Who Magazine #141-142; Reprinted (coloured) in Doctor Who Classic Comics #14


"Now This is Interesting!" by Tim Roll-Pickering 8/10/98

Given the contrived nature of this story (originally produced to celebrate the series’ twenty-fifth anniversary), it is a miracle that Planet of the Dead is actually quite enjoyable. Even more remarkable is the second part, in which what at first comes accross as a reunion of the seven Doctors and then turns out to be something far more sinister--a triumph of John Freeman’s scripting abilities.

Lee Sullivan’s first strip features strong artwork, with all the guest starring companions and Doctors sporting strong likenesses. The Gwanzulum always look menacing, despite looking a bit like Mr Men with their faces on their torsos, whilst the Adeki and the remains of their civilisation look distinctly alien. However, there is one character who is poorly drawn--the seventh Doctor. Sullivan is widely reported as having disliked his own portrayal, and so redrew McCoy’s features in each panel. On some occasions this does improve things, but most of the time the likeness is still unconvincing. However, given that McCoy’s features are particularly difficult to draw and nearly all the artists who drew him had problems achieving a good likeness at first (with the exception, ironically, of John Ridgeway), Sullivan can not be too heavily criticised, though a single regular artist is infinitely more preferable to a rapid series of many different artists.

John Freeman successfully captures the personalities of all the Doctors and companions easily, with all the dialogue sounding as though it has come from their eras (apart from the second Doctor stating that the third ‘reversed the polarity of the neutron flow’ and the fourth Doctor’s line about a field laser, though there is a reason for this). The seventh Doctor’s manipulation of events is also displayed--rather than rushing into the TARDIS and hoping for the best, he manipulates the others so he can get in and seal the doors safely.

A fine story that is one of the best ever attempts to write a story with a large number of requirements for it. 8/10