Doctor Who - The Dalek Project

“And yet still kinder than Mel’s exercise program.”

Doctor Who: The Dalek Project

BBC Books (2012)

WRITER: Justin Richards
ARTIST: Mike Collins
COLORISTS: Kris Carter & Owen Jollands
LETTERER: Ian Sharman
EDITOR: Ian Sharman

Fun fact: Owen Jollands is taking part in the Art Soundoff challenge. I swear this is a coincidence.

In 2012 the Doctor comes across an excavation from the Bronze Age, and finds Daleks. After they’re sorted out, he believes this is unfinished business from an earlier trip, also without Amy and Rory (who unlike the last book are not in this one). For some reason he takes one of the archeologists back to just after World War 1 while telling her about the previous visit. The Daleks have tricked a British industrialist to build robotic versions of Daleks as part of their project to study how humans wage war. The Doctor makes some friends in that time period as he tries to figure out the scope of the plan and put an end to it. Then he takes the archeologist to meet the survivors.

If you’ve read the full book or a more spoilery review you already know that elements of this story already took place in the new show, when the same Doctor foiled a similar plan by the Daleks in World War 2. It’s even the Germans they’re fighting again, although obviously not Nazis this time. I also don’t know why they needed the framing device, although I will suggest a theory later. Also, even theorizing that the Daleks caused the first World War with one of their robots is another of those “blame history on aliens” thing that bugs me. However, these are the only complaints I have with the book.

While element of the same plan show up, Richards does put a fresh coat of paint on it in how the Daleks use those elements, as if they learned from that time they tricked Winston Churchill into creating Daleks. This time they get both sides to make their “proto-Daleks”, and use other tech in their plan both futuristic and…not necessarily steampunk but certainly a very retro-tech feel along those lines. Doctor 11 is his usual manic self, but maybe he should break out the Panama hat more and the fez less. I’m still neutral about the Stetson, but River shouldn’t have shot it anyway. Okay, now I’m off course.

The temporary Companions, the industrialist’s maid and a soldier who fell into this adventure, were great temp companions, although the maid’s role is really underwhelming considering how female Companions have been treated in the New Who. She’s very much in the background in comparison to her peers but still manages to offer some help. And while it’s Daleks again for the second BBC book I’ve picked up (sadly I have been unable to get more if there are any) and the theme of Dalek experimentation shows up again like in The Only Good Dalek it’s fresh enough to let by. As for the archaeologist, she may be there so the Doctor can tell the readers the story with a message at the end that’s positive to British soldiers. The general that pops up at one point is actually interested in ending the war without more casualties, which is rare for fictional generals who would usually hate the “fighting man being put to pasture” or being more interested in killing the enemy than saving the lives of their troops. Since here in America we just celebrated Veteran’s Day I can get behind this story.

The art is well done (including the coloring, since a fellow Art Soundoff participant is involved I felt the urge to mention this even though Jollands may have only assisted from what the credits show), showing the war properly and I like the designs of the Proto-Daleks. Overall this is a good book. I don’t know why BBC Books decided to branch out into the graphic novel world, but it’s nice to see one that isn’t just a trade collection of comic books and actually be an original graphic novel. I miss those. Amazon has it for a good price, and using that link supports the Spotlight, but I’m only promoting it because I think it’s worth picking up. So do so, even if you don’t use the link.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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