The Flood: Collected Comic Strips from the Pages of Doctor Who Magazine
by Scott Gray, Martin Geraghty, Mike Collins, John Ross, et al.
Collection published: 2007
Contents originally published: 2003-05
Previously read: August 2008
Reread: September 2022
Something I've tracked in this project is for how long the strip functions as a self-contained narrative. For example, you can read from #1-60 and it all makes sense... but then the Doctor changes appearance between #60 and 61! Peri spontaneously disappears between #129 and 130. Benny appears suddenly in #193, and Ace disappears; Ace reappears in #203; and then Ace and Benny disappear after #210. The tv programme and other external factors prevent the strip from working as a totally self-contained story, even if it almost gets away with it at times. (The Shape-Shifter picks right up from The Moderator even though the Doctor changed his appearance!)
But from #244 to 353, we have a continuous story (side-strips like The Last Word or Character Assassin aside): over a hundred strips, not quite ten years' worth, that you can read without interruption. The characters, the themes, the ideas, develop from story to story. It had never been done before in Doctor Who Magazine history—no one prior to Alan Barnes, Martin Geraghty, Scott Gray, and company had ever had such a canvas to work on, and thus far, no one has ever had one again. Even more amazingly, it's clear this could have kept on going. This volume introduces Destrii as a new companion, only to immediately wrap up the narrative of her and the eighth Doctor. The universe where Doctor Who didn't come back to tv is probably a darker one overall, but its DWM strip could have kept going for another five years at least, I bet.
|from Doctor Who Magazine #329|
story by Scott Gray; pencils, colours & lettering by Roger Langridge, inks by David A. Roach
The eighth Doctor, a bit mopey after the events of the Ophidius/Oblivion arc, ends up in a bar that is—unbeknownst to him—run by Frobisher—who doesn't recognize the Doctor either. It's a great one-off, with some good character moments and strong comedy and heartfelt writing. The idea that they don't recognize each other is good; as Gray says in the end notes, "it avoided becoming a cosy, nostalgic reunion then and made it a bit more poignant." Not to spend my time here complaining about Big Finish, but compare this to the obnoxious sentimentality of something like the eighth Doctor meeting the Brigadier again in Stranded: UNIT Dating.
|from Doctor Who Magazine #334|
stories by Gareth Roberts and Scott Gray; art by Mike Collins & Robin Smith, Adrian Salmon, and Anthony Williams & David A. Roach; colours by Dylan Teague and Adrian Salmon; lettering by Roger Langridge
For me, the DWM strip is always a bit less interesting when it becomes continuity-light. These aren't quite a series of one-offs, but they are pretty close to it. We have a story of the Doctor involved in a goofy plot involving aliens and football, one about Osirians in ancient Egypt, and one about an alien acting as Spring-Heeled Jack in nineteenth-century London. The Nightmare Game didn't work for me; I think it wants to be The Star Beast, but it doesn't have the energy or inventiveness of that story, and Gareth Roberts's Doctor's voice doesn't feel like Scott Gray's—too stiff and old-fashioned. Even the usually reliable Mike Collins seems to be having a bad day. The Power of Thoueris! is fun if slight—hard to go wrong with Adrian Salmon—but Curious Tale is again kind of a plod.
The first and third stories here both try to fake you into thinking you're meeting a new companion. I guess, anyway; Roberts claims in the end notes it was his intention to make readers think the pointless kid character was going to be a companion? Goodness knows why he wanted to do that, or why anyone fell for it. Gray pulls off a similar twist to much better effect in Curious Tale.
I do like the recurring gag across #330 to #338 about the Doctor turning up everywhere in a new, often ludicrous hat.
|from Doctor Who Magazine #337|
story by Scott Gray, pencils by Martin Geraghty, inks by Faz Choudhury and David A. Roach, colours by Daryl Joyce and Adrian Salmon, lettering by Roger Langridge
Has anyone had to come up with more "celebratory" strip concepts than Scott Gray? He certainly had to do it a lot of times, and in the end notes to these collections, he sometimes comes across as increasingly desperate. Here it's Doctor Who's fortieth anniversary, and he would still be doing it ten years later for the fiftieth! This is surely one of the better ones, a tribute to the pre-DWM comics framed as a dream of the depressed eighth Doctor. The actual story is bonkers and charming, the coloring is beautiful, and the end is poignant.
|from Doctor Who Magazine #344|
stories by Scott Gray, art by Martin Geraghty & David A. Roach and John Ross, colours by Adrian Salmon, lettering by Roger Langridge
And suddenly, the ongoing story is back. Bad Blood is the return of Destrii—who becomes a companion—and her uncle Jadafra—who becomes a villain. I remember this not sitting well with me the previous time I read this collection; way back in January 2008, I wrote, "I feel the return of Jodafra was bungled; the one-dimensional villain here is nothing like the enjoyable fop from Oblivion." Fourteen years later (!) I think I was wrong: Jodafra is an enjoyable fop if he thinks he can use you, but an awful bastard otherwise, and Bad Blood does a great job drawing that out, and establishing what makes him distinct from Destrii. A strong story with lots of great characters and concepts; after a minor slump, the strip is once again firing on all cylinders. This continues into Sins of the Fathers, which mostly is there to set up Destrii as a companion, especially the logistics of her holo-disguise, but is another solid story. Like the late Moffat/Smith era, Gray and his artists make it feel like a new movie every time.The Flood, from Doctor Who Magazine #346-53 (Aug. 2004–Mar. 2005)
story by Scott Gray, pencils by Martin Geraghty, inks by David A. Roach, colours by Adrian Salmon, lettering by Roger Langridge
|from Doctor Who Magazine #350|
The end of the eighth Doctor's comic run is surely also one of its best stories. An amazing setting, a great use of the Cybermen, some real meaningful, human stuff from both the Doctor and Destrii, perfect artwork. So good that Russell T Davies cribbed from it two different times (the Doctor absorbing the Time Vortex in The Parting of the Ways, the Cybermen as ghosts in Army of Ghosts), but of course he did, because this is operating right in the same ethos as him, my preferred ethos for Doctor Who, where the fantastic crashes right into the ordinary. The Cyberman plan—to make people want to by Cybermen by making their emotions unbearable—has never been bettered. The Doctor's increasingly desperate plans and ploys are done amazingly well. The new Cyberman design is fantastic. Martin Geraghty is on fire as much as the Doctor is during the climax. The narration by Izzy is the icing on the cake, and the cameos from her, Maxwell Edison, and Grace are well-placed. The ending isn't a regeneration, but it could have been, and it works either way.
Even the coda with the cows is great. I'm sad it had to end, but it couldn't have ended better than this.
|from Doctor Who Magazine #353|
- There's never been much sign that DWM cares about the Big Finish uses of their concepts; the woman Frobisher is married to here is seemingly not the one he settled down with when he left the Doctor in The Maltese Penguin.
- #337 was, fact fans, the very first issue of Doctor Who Magazine I ever picked up, meaning The Land of Happy Endings was my first-ever DWM strip. I picked up that issue so I could get ahold of its exclusive Big Finish audio drama, Living Legend, written by Scott Gray himself! It would be a few years before I would become a regular purchaser of DWM... I own The Coup / Silver Living, which came free with #351, but the cover to that one doesn't strike a chord; I think I might have just bought the CD on its own on eBay in that case.
- Normally I think Gray does a great job capturing the Doctor in general and Paul McGann specifically, but I don't care for a Doctor who makes scalping jokes and thinks Native Americans went around saying "How!" and calls them "Red Indians." Ugh.
- One thing I don't like about The Flood: the bit where Destrii is inadvertently racist. It's just not what I want to read about a companion doing? I think the story might get away with it if Destrii or anyone else acknowledged it, but all the only reaction comes from someone who's been emotionally compromised by the Cybermen. Similarly, I don't quite buy that you could watch as much Earth tv as Destrii has and not know about money!
- Can I just say, Martin Geraghty has always drawn Paul McGann as kind of tall... but in reality, McGann's only a couple inches taller than the "short" Sylvester McCoy. I feel like this is surely because of those TVM promo photos where McCoy hands McGann the TARDIS key, where McGann is clearly way taller. Supposedly McGann was standing on a box! Can we assume that even if McGann is average height, the character of the eighth Doctor is tall, and thus Martin Geraghty draws him correctly?
- The "Flood Barriers" behind-the-scenes here, about how DWM almost got to do the regeneration, and their pitch of Ninth Doctor: Year One, is really fascinating to read. I totally see the reason neither panned out, but it does seem a bummer that DWM could be offered something so titanic yet not get to do it, and I bet Scott Gray and Martin Geraghty would have made The Ninth Doctor: Year One something special. But they made the right call—especially once Night/Day of the Doctor came along!
This post is the twenty-ninth in a series about the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip and Marvel UK. The next installment covers The Cruel Sea. Previous installments are listed below:
- The Iron Legion
- Dragon's Claw
- The Transformers Classics UK, Volume One
- The Tides of Time
- The Transformers Classics UK, Volume Two
- The Transformers Classics UK, Volume Three
- The World Shapers
- The Transformers Classics UK, Volume Four
- The Age of Chaos
- The Transformers Classics UK, Volume Five
- A Cold Day in Hell!
- Death's Head: Freelance Peacekeeping Agent (part 1)
- Nemesis of the Daleks
- Death's Head: Freelance Peacekeeping Agent (part 2)
- The Good Soldier
- The Incomplete Death's Head
- Evening's Empire
- The Daleks
- Emperor of the Daleks
- The Sleeze Brothers File
- The Age of Chaos
- Land of the Blind
- Ground Zero
- End Game
- The Glorious Dead
- Transformers: Time Wars and Other Stories