Writing out Sharon Davies as a character was a necessity for Steve Moore once switching over to the monthly release schedule as he couldn’t have too many characters in a story which only lasted between 8 and 16 pages. Dreamers of Death is the comic strip which has been used to accomplish this. It is one of those departures that Doctor Who is famous for doing when it must be done quickly as the story doesn’t build up to a departure, but springs it upon the reader in the last few panels of the story. The setting of this story is Uniceptor IV, a utopia planet which the Doctor has visited before and due to Sharon being aged in Doctor Who and the Time Witch, she decides once the events are over that this would be a good place to settle down in. While not the best exit for a companion, it at least has Sharon settling into a new society instead of the weird standard companion falls in love like Susan in The Dalek Invasion of Earth and Leela in The Invasion of Time. The Doctor’s reaction to Sharon’s exit is also interesting, as Moore does a good thing in not attempting to make it some sad event. The Doctor just says goodbye, they leave each other on good terms and suggest maybe they’ll see each other again in the future.
The story of Dreamers of Death plays quite a bit with a really nice and potentially ahead of its time science fiction ideas. The planet Uniceptor IV, as stated above, is a utopia and for entertainment has turned away from television and turned towards shared dreaming. Through virtual reality helmets, friends and family can share dreams together and tell different types of stories where they take part in the action. This is an interesting projection as to where the future of video games were to go. Remember that this was published in late 1980, three years before the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan, and five years before its release in the United States bringing home video games to the western world. Having them a group experience with deep stories with completely different story potential to other forms of media is quite accurate. It is also excellent to see a story about video games going wrong which is still optimistic. The threat come from the psychic creatures used to link dreams together going haywire and eventually growing to kaiju levels in size. The solution in this story does come out of nowhere but considering how short this comic actually is that isn’t really a problem.
Dave Gibbons continues as artist for the comic strip and as always his artwork is excellent, and his design for the forms of the creatures in this story shift from cute and cuddly to harsh and threatening while still recognizably being the same creature. The style of thick linework is well suited for these types of adventures and he manages to elevate every strip read. Overall, Dreamers of Death shows that the shorter format can still tell great slices of Doctor Who despite its limitations and if the rest of Moore’s run continues in this vain the magazine will reach great heights of quality. 9/10.