Written by Cavan Scott, George Mann | Art by Ivan Rodriguez, Walter Geovanni | Published by Titan Comics
The Cybermen, bar none, have always been my favourite Dr Who villains. In fact, not only my favourite Who villains, but in my top ten of science fiction villains ever. I could also bore you with reasons why they are not ‘villains’ as such in my mind, but unless you have a beer in your hand and a few hours to spare I’ll excuse you for now. It’s not just me of course, so why are the Cybermen so popular? I think, like the Daleks, they tap into two areas of the human mind. A fear of technology, of technology surpassing us and then suppressing us. Fear also of being imprisoned, of being turned into something we don’t want to be and something we cannot ever escape from. The Borg in Star Trek tap into a similar vein, equally as effectively.
Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen was originally released as a five issue ‘event’ last year, and is now available as a shiny collection. I tend to find the finite series are often read better as collections, rather than waiting those pesky 30 days between issues. Written by George Mann and Cavan Scott, we get not exactly a cast of thousands, but certainly a cast of four Doctors (the 9th, 10h, 11th, and 12th incarnations) and five companions, including Captain Jack and Rose Tyler. Pretty cool setup, right?
So many characters of course require a lot of introductions, so nearly the first quarter of the book is taken up with catching up with each Doctor and his companion, and what and where they currently are. Necessary of course, but wasteful of a lot of page space. The central plot hangs on Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor realising something is very wrong with time, and travelling to the planet Karn to use a secret ‘back door’ to get back to Gallifrey. On getting back to Gallifrey, he realises something is very wrong. The former Lord High President, Rassilon, whom he had deposed and exiled is not only back, but back with an army of Cybermen. It seems Rassilon has joined Gallifrey and the Cybermen together in something of an unholy alliance.
Back in prehistoric times, The Eleventh Doctor is encountering Cyber-Silurians, the Tenth Doctor finds frightened Sontarans fighting Cybermen in the Sontar system, and the Ninth Doctor is fighting Cybermen in 2006 London with Rose and her mum. That’s a lot of metal. Each Doctor realises something is very wrong, as Cyberman armies are spreading at an alarming rate, conquering and converting at a terrible rate. The Tenth Doctor, back in prehistoric Earth, finds the probable cause. Cybermen Ark ships on Earth before humanity has evolved, intending to seed the galaxy before they can be stopped.
Back to Gallifrey, where the Twelfth Doctor learns of how Rassilon allowed himself to be converted so he could lead the Cybermen. The Doctor learns he also disabled all the TARDIS’s, so no-one could go back in time and stop what has happened. As things start to heat up in each time, each Doctor and companion find their lives in danger, even as they try and stop the Cyber takeover in each era. These Cybermen are more powerful and dangerous than ever, seemingly capable of even converting a Time Lord, something they could never do previously. Time and history is in flux as the Cyberman armies conquer everything.
Of course though, The Doctor can always find weakness in an opponent. The Cybermen’s ongoing conversion of the Tenth Doctor results in them allowing his intellect, his brain, into their hive mind, and he’s never encountered a machine he can’t try to re-wire. Rassilon also discovers that his master-plan, to lead a Cyberman-Time Lord alliance, has hit a slight snag. His allies were never following him at all, just hanging around long enough to get their hands on Time Lord technology. The Age of the Cyberiad is nearly complete, as every Doctor and every era starts to fall. Something happens though that the Cybermen didn’t plan on, Rassilon teams up with the Twelfth Doctor and together, using the Eye of Harmony, they turn back time and re-write history. The Cybermen were defeated not by fighting, but by The Doctor healing time.
Phew! A lot of action was packed into these 120 pages, and it was great fun. A good story delivered well, and most Doctor’s given their moment to shine. But if this war spread all over time, where were the other Doctor’s you may ask. Ah, that is answered in fun one page updates at the end, with every Doctor getting a cameo. Great stuff. The art in general was nice, mixing up the look and feel of different sections as required, and handling a very complicated script really well.
A comic book version of a Summer movie blockbuster. Not much in the way of subtlety anywhere to be seen, but widescreen fun and action delivered in spades.
Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen is out now from Titan Comics.