Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Life Bringer! by: Steve Moore with art by: Dave Gibbons

The Life Bringer! is written by Steve Moore with art by Dave Gibbons.  It was released in Doctor Who Monthly issues 49-50 (February-March 1981) and is reprinted in its original form in Doctor Who: Dragon’s Claw by Panini Books.

As I near the end of Steve Moore’s run on the Doctor Who Monthly comics, I can’t help but wonder just where this idea came from.  The Life Bringer! is a two issue comic that has the Doctor arrive on Earth and find the literal Titan Prometheus chained up in punishment for giving humanity fire.  This comic decides to make bits of Greek mythology canon to the Doctor Who universe with the Greek gods as immortal aliens on Olympus responsible for life on several planets.  There are several questions raised by this comic that don’t get the answers, but lead to some interesting theories.  These gods could easily be Eternals, or the race in Ghost Light, or just a weird fever dream of the Doctor’s.  The plot itself has the Doctor bring Prometheus home to Olympus and wander around for a bit, convincing Zeus that maybe he should create more life in the universe, angering the head god, and then leaving.  In the Stripped for Action documentary for the Fourth Doctor it was mentioned that at one point the panels were drawn before a plot was thought up, and I can’t help but speculate if this was one of those stories.  The plot itself is almost non-existent and incredibly basic.  It’s a real step down from stories like Doctor Who and the Time Witch and Dreamers of Death, which worked well with a shorter format.  Here very little actually happens outside of the implication that the gods are responsible for evolution and some generic action sequences.

Moore does take a chance to subtly reference several Greek myths throughout, including their contradictory nature.  Both Apollo and Helios are mentioned as characters, with the latter appearing with Selene, noting the two as separate deities for the sun.  There’s also some interesting reactions to K9, who features as companion, as these gods don’t have this type of technology, yet still have spaceships.  It is an odd contradiction between having an ancient society with advanced technology shown to be of the same ‘modern’ type as the design of K9, but being unable to recognize it when they see it.  While this isn’t a large detail in the story, it jumps right out at the reader due to the incredibly short and basic nature of this installment.  The big problem is that there just isn’t enough time to properly explore this type of premise in the allotted page count, and the story suffers greatly because of that.  As always Dave Gibbons provides his excellent artwork to the strip, with an interesting interpretation of the Fourth Doctor’s Season 18 costume and some interesting melding of designs for Olympus.

Overall, however, The Life Bringer! just falls apart as a story due to being restrained while doing a potentially interesting premise.  It’s not among the worst of Doctor Who, but is just kind of dull overall making for a bland experience.  4/10.

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