Friday 15 November 2013


The DOCTOR WHO SUMMER SPECIAL 1985 was a departure from the norm in so many ways: a return to a comic strip formula, a return to the Tom Baker era (during Colin Baker's screen time) and published in the (pricy) album format that MARVEL UK adopted in the mid eighties.

This was another outing for The Iron Legion, the first of the DOCTOR WHO WEEKLY serials, first published in 1979 and already given one repeat outing in the 1980 Summer Special.

The justification for the virtual rerun of that first special (even the second strip, K-9's Finest Hour, was ported across) was that, this time, the strips were presented in colour! Hurrah!

Not that Redan Place actually did the work themselves, these pages had been prepared for the first two (of four) American try-outs for Britain's WHO material in MARVEL PREMIERE.  The better format, larger page size and better printing made this outing far superior to the US editions, hindered by Marvel's basic four-colour process.

The Marvel Premiere experiment obviously hadn't been enough to convince New York a regular booking at that moment but they did take advantage of the show's booming popularity, and the potential of the expanding Direct Sales market of the early eighties, to launch a high spec WHO monthly in 1984.  That Baxter Paper-printed title also drew on the UK archive, colouring and rerunning the remainder of the Tom Baker run before progressing to the Peter Davison strips before stuttering to a halt (rumours of reruns of the British BLAKE'S SEVEN strips as back-ups never materialised).

Surprisingly, M-UK didn't take advantage of this new supply of potential colour reprints despite the fact that the US originals were only distributed via comic shops in the UK.  That was the first (not counting the sixties US adaptation of the first Dalek movie) of several occasions where most Brits were blissfully unaware of the Doctor's parallel stateside adventures (although, with the exception of some spot illustrations and a run of glorious new covers, no new strips appeared stateside).

The album format continued into the Winter 1985 releases, but a second WHO edition was conspicuously absent.  Although Marvel would use it again to reprint more contemporary material.

- To Be Continued - 

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