The transition from Doctor Who Weekly to Doctor Who Monthly was an interesting one for the comic strip due to what a change in format does for how the comic was being written. Throughout the Doctor Who Weekly run for the strip were multi-part eight week runs for each of the stories under Mills and Wagner, and slightly shorter, yet still multi issue stories under Steve Moore’s hand. Changing to a monthly release schedule brought a challenge to Moore and Doctor Who Monthly’s publishers as the fear became what would happen if longer stories were told on a monthly format. Only releasing one issue of a magazine per month in 1980 was only really feasible for long form narratives in the eyes of the publishers for an actual comic book, fully devoted to that. Doctor Who Monthly was not marketed to those types of readers, but to younger children who the publishers believed would not necessarily be able to follow a long running monthly story. This perhaps goes to explain why beginning with The Collector and running until the end of the Fourth Doctor’s run the stories would only span at most two issues. The Collector is the first single issue story for Doctor Who Monthly and has an interesting format.
Steve Moore takes full advantage of the fact that there is now an eight page run to each issue so The Collector can tell a simple, yet engaging story over a simple eight pages. The Collector deals with a ship held in stasis over the Earth where a man is essentially in a Stockholm syndrome situation with a robot, and is collecting human specimens just to pass the time. He isn’t a villain, but is doing some villainous things basically so he can keep his sanity in space which makes this small little story have some depth in what is easily just a light bit of fluff. One of the biggest complaints here is that Sharon has very little to do within this story, kind of only being there as a holdover from the previous stories. It is clear that Moore is ready to write the character out of the strip for the only reason of making it easier to write short form stories with only necessary characters. Moore just doesn’t have anything for her to do except ask one or two questions while the Doctor is the one to take quite a bit of time to ask questions. The robotic antagonist is interesting and Moore almost comes upon an artificial intelligence taking over story aimed at children and it is quite admirable to begin to expose kids to these complex views. As always Dave Gibbons’ artwork is excellent and makes these comics incredibly easy to follow and enjoy. Overall, The Collector is a fun enough bit of fluff bringing in a new style for Doctor Who Monthly, but isn’t going to be remembered as one of the greats. 7/10.