Defender of the Daleks’ conclusion confirms its place as a side-line in the wider TLV tale but, as the first story element to fully conclude, it is satisfying to be able to see clearly where it fits. It also features an exciting appearance from a character not featured elsewhere in Time Lord Victorious, which I’ll get to later in the review once I have addressed some less spoiler-y points first.
Defender of the Daleks, looked at as a whole, remains a relatively straightforward story, but this issue is an improvement on the first part — or at least more happens in it. The Hond are a fairly under-characterised threat: a generically drawn jelly monster with an angry face, presumably to go with their generic motivations. Something could be said however for their being an interesting ideological opponent to the Daleks. While the Daleks seek to commit genocide as a result of a perceived racial supremacy, the Hond act from a place of self-pity. In this sense, perhaps the gelatinous mess of their forms does draw a further interesting contrast to the cold hard metal armour of a Dalek, but I still can’t help feeling something more visually interesting would have better suited the comic book medium.
It’s nice here to have a glimpse at a more well adjusted Tenth Doctor — compared to the post-the Waters of Mars incarnation featured in other TLV stories — but there is interesting foreshadowing of what’s to come for him. He criticises the alien Hond for having a “I clearly know what’s best for the universe, who cares what anyone else thinks or wants?” attitude, accidentally skewering his own future self’s actions at the end of The Knight, the Fool and the Dead. Actions he has to deal with the consequences of now, with the implication being that a species as destructive and useless as the Hond would have had its life limited by the Kotturuh in the original timeline. Which would explain why the Doctor believes they haven’t existed since the Dark Times.
Going into full SPOILER territory now, the unexpected appearance of the Thirteenth Doctor, shows that this story is ultimately an interlude in Titan’s ongoing stories featuring that pair together, as much as it is a standalone TLV piece. Her appearance is relatively short but her voice is captured at least as well as the Tenth Doctor’s. It’s a nice little cameo, although in part feels like an easy way of helping the Tenth Doctor escape from the Daleks; a Deus Ex Doctor, if you will.
Regarding its relevance to TLV, it is more significant in terms of the Daleks’ story, as the ending leads directly into their next appearance: The Enemy of My Enemy. The Daleks realise they are going to need another Doctor to help, and identify the Eighth Doctor as a target. This is a nice tie-in to the Big Finish range, but I can’t help thinking it’s odd that — in the middle of a tightly orchestrated multimedia event — this comic should feature the Eighth Doctor with his TV Movie hair and costume, rather than as he appears on the relevant Big Finish covers (with the The Night of the Doctor hair and costume).
I think it’s clear from the above review that I’m not the most enthusiastic about this part of the TLV range. It’s certainly not the most relevant to the overall TLV range, and is a fairly generic and relatively thin-on-the-ground story. But, that being said, this is by far the cheapest element of TLV, and it can’t be understated how genuinely stunning the artwork is, particularly in the first part. I suspect that comics of this kind just aren’t for me, but if they are for you — that’s great! — and I am sure you will enjoy these two issues, or indeed the soon to be released collected edition.
Well, it’s nice to have concluded one strand of TLV, and since the last reviews many more have opened up, which you can expect reviews of soon (I already have my drafted notes on four further stories!). I have also taken the decision to review Daleks! as one thing once all five episodes are released, to give me more time to catch up on the other stories. And, in very exciting news, you can hear me discuss The Knight, the Fool and the Dead in greater detail on Trap One Podcast. This discussion was very fun to record and I hope to appear on the show again at some point in the future!