In the 1935 movie classic The Bride Of Frankenstein, Ernest Thesiger’s character of Dr. Septimus Pretorius raises a toast: “To a new world of gods and monsters!”. Cutaway Comics are bringing us just that with their second title in their fledgling range of comic spin-offs from Doctor Who.
Omega brings us a prequel to two Doctor Who stories, and a sequel to a third, with one person having either solely or co-written them all: Bob Baker. During his time on Doctor Who, Baker and his writing partner Dave Martin had the nickname of “The Bristol Boys”, having both hailed from the city; along with penning several stories together, Baker and Martin are also responsible for creating one of the best-loved of all the show’s companions: the robot dog, K-9.
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In later years, Baker went on to write for a very different type of canine character, co-authoring the Aardman Animations features The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave, and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. In Omega issue #1, both Mark Griffiths (We Apologise For The Inconvenience) and Ian Winterton revisit some of Baker’s Who tales, letting us have two stories for the price of one, and expanding upon what we saw on screen some five decades ago.
In Griffiths’ primary strip, we have a clever collision of two of Baker and Martin’s tales from the show: ‘The Three Doctors’ and ‘Underworld’. The former marked the tenth anniversary of Doctor Who, and saw the first ever occasion of the Doctor meeting his earlier incarnations. In ‘The Three Doctors’, the Time Lords’ home planet was under siege from a mysterious force on the other side of a black hole, and their only hope of survival was to unite the first three Doctors to join forces, in order to save the Time Lords from destruction.
The instigator of the attack on the Time Lords was unveiled as Omega, their civilisation’s greatest hero, who gave them the power of time travel; however, while he was thought to have been killed in the supernova which provided the power source for all TARDISes, Omega had in fact been pulled into a universe of antimatter. Believing that his fellow Time Lords had in fact left him to his fate, Omega sought revenge upon them, and wanted to return to our universe.
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‘Underworld’, a later Baker and Martin adventure, brought us into contact with the Minyans, whose world had been visited by the Time Lords. Being far more advanced than the people of Minyos, the Time Lords were hailed as gods. However, the Minyans – whose society developed through their exposure to advanced science – grew to resent the Time Lords, leading to a revolution against them; this resulted in the Time Lords adopting a policy of strict non-interference in the affairs of others, something which frequently put the Doctor in direct conflict with his own kind.
Griffiths’ opening issue of Omega takes us back to the time of the Minyans’ uprising, as they are in revolt against their erstwhile gods, leading to a civil war in their society; whilst all this is going on, moves are underway to free Omega from his captivity beyond the black hole, so that he can mete out retribution upon those who left him behind. A major benefit of Griffiths’ storytelling approach is that prior knowledge of this continuity really is not essential – everything you need to know is fully explained, so this works as a self-contained story, making it fully accessible to non-fans.
Perhaps one of the most exciting things about Omega is the artwork being drawn by the legendary John Ridgway, whose work will be familiar to readers of 2000 AD and DC Comics’ Hellblazer. Ridgway also provided the art for what are some of the most iconic and beloved comic strips during Marvel‘s period of publishing Doctor Who Magazine; stories such as ‘Voyager’ and ‘The World Shapers’ were grandiose in scope, with Ridgway delivering the epic vistas needed, and he does exactly the same thing here, giving a very different look and feel to Cutaway’s gritty, earthbound Lytton.
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Moving from the gods to the monsters, Omega is rounded out by a backup strip, bringing to mind the days of Doctor Who Weekly, which would feature a second comic story in every issue, focusing on characters and aliens without the Doctor being involved. Here, Ian Winterton’s ‘The Demons Of Eden’ gives us a follow-up to Bob Baker’s only solo script for Who, ‘Nightmare Of Eden’. Artist Martin Geraghty, who is another Doctor Who Magazine veteran, gives us landscapes and monsters more convincing than those able to be realised on a 1970s BBC budget. Oh, and nuns with guns.
As with previous Cutaway Comics releases, anybody buying direct from them gets a free DVD of special features, which for Omega issue #1 includes an audio introduction by Mark Griffiths and publisher Gareth Kavanagh; an exclusive audio commentary for ‘Underworld’ which features Bob Baker and Louise Jameson (Leela); and archive convention panels with Baker and Jameson from separate events. Cutaway Comics are going from strength to strength, with the grand mythic tone of Omega giving them a very classy – and distinctive – new string to their bow.
Omega #1 is out now from Cutaway Comics.