The Dalek World
|Illustrations||Richard Jennings, John Woods, A.B. Cornwell and W. Wiggins|
|Starring the Daleks, the Mechanoids, Meric Scrivener and Brit|
A Review by Finn Clark 15/5/04
This book has everything! Everything! If you're looking for a thick tome with lots of fully painted comic strips and violent Dalek adventure, you've come to the right place. If you want a richly detailed sequel to 1964's The Dalek Book, that's here too. Extraordinary details of Dalek civilisation? Yuppers. The chance to laugh like a loon at some of the best unintentional comedy this side of the 27th Galaxy? Boy, are you in luck!
There's good continuity with The Dalek Book, both in the details and the big picture. We see voltoscopes and thunderizers on p9, as in last year's Dalek War Machines article, and Skaro still has two suns. Our solar system only has nine planets again, but I guess Vulcan and Omega must have wandered off during the past 200 years. Most importantly, this book is an explicit sequel to its predecessor. The Dalek Book told us of the Age of Universal Peace that began in 2409 AD when the Daleks were forced back to Skaro and disarmed. The Dalek World begins with The Mechanical Planet, in which mankind is forced to rearm the Daleks after "two hundred years of total peace". A later story, The Log of the Gypsy Joe, is explicitly set in 2612.
The only snag is that this is bollocks. Forget the alternate Dalek origin with Yarvelling in the TV21 comic strips... this is the worst continuity clash between the sixties Dalek strips and mainstream Who. The Daleks' timelines could be screwed enough for them to have two creation stories, but total peace for mankind in the 25th and 26th centuries? Apparently Earth hardly even still has weapons! This poses problems for anyone comparing The Dalek World with massive 26th-century wars against Cybermen (Earthshock), Draconians (Frontier in Space) and Daleks (New Ace in the NAs). Ah well. Since this book came first, we'll just have to assume that the TV stories got it wrong!
The Daleks are as vicious as ever. The Golden Emperor gets some classic callousness on p14: "The planet is using a diamond ray. Interesting!" as three of his Daleks get melted into slag. They hoard rubies, diamonds and emeralds in Treasure of the Daleks, though Know Your Enemy on 82 has an explanation for this. [I quote: "There is however a treasure house of precious metals and stones that have been looted from other planets. This wealth is used in economic warfare, one of the more subtle forms of Dalek attack. The value of this treasure house has been estimated at several hundred million millions of pounds."] The story still feels weird, though.
Skaro gets treated with scant respect, being a regular Liberty Hall for unwanted visitors. Treasure of the Daleks has jewel thieves, The Invisible Invaders has some overconfident birdmen and The Five-Leaf Clover has an Irish con-man who thinks this is the best place to look for five-leaved clovers. Isn't Skaro meant to be scary?
The stories are even more variable than last year's. There are some awesome comic strips, with The Mechanical Planet, The Invisible Invaders, The World That Waits and Masters of the World all offering classic Dalek action and carnage a-plenty. The Mechanical Planet is so much fun that you don't even notice its technobabble non-explanation of what the Daleks did, while The World That Waits co-stars the Mechanoids! What more could you want? There's more fully painted art than last time too, with better work from Richard Jennings and more accurate Daleks.
Oh, and The Mechanical Planet is the only 11-page Doctor Who comic strip story to date. I'm sure you all wanted to know that.
The text stories are less successful, with only Manhunt being really worth your time. That's a brutal little tale in which the Daleks capture five humans for sadistic experiments and release them into the jungle one by one to be hunted to death. The Secret Struggle is okay, but mostly notable for having a Dalek duplicate called Lytton!
Then we have the daft stuff.
Even more entertainingly, The Dalek World also contains that legendary "Strange To Tell... According To The Daleks" two-page feature. I have suspicions about that title, which could be hinting that the article is deliberate bollocks and we're not meant to take it seriously. The writer certainly didn't! Apparently every Dalek has multiple minds, can move at 2000 mph, only weigh two and a half pounds and can't see red objects. The Great Pyramid of Ghiza was built as a monument to a crashed Dalek spacecraft, while the Yeti in Tibet are actually Daleks that crashed in the year 141 AD and crawled out of their casings. What's more, your best friend may be a Dalek robot spy! Should we all be performing intimate medical examinations right now?
Oh, and check out the inside front cover. Since the Solar Power Stations are gigantic testicles, is the Dalek Saucer Transporter a breast and the Dalek Cleaver a spiky metal penis?
This book is so much fun that it's probably illegal. It looks great and it has a killer combination of kick-arse comic strips and laugh-out-loud silliness. It even has another photo-story, this time with stills from the first Peter Cushing film but uncaptioned for you to write in your own script. No, really. Given what happened with last year's photo-story, that's probably a wise move. I'm in awe. This book is a marvel of Who and we should revere and worship it.