The Neutron Knight is written by Steve Parkhouse with art by Dave Gibbons. It was released in Doctor Who Monthly issue 60 (December 1981) and is reprinted in its original form in Doctor Who: Dragon’s Claw by Panini Books.
Having Logopolis air between February and March 1981 meant that Doctor Who would be off the air for nine months before Peter Davison could debut as the Doctor properly, so Doctor Who Monthly instead of attempting to do comics with the Fifth Doctor without any sort of idea of what his Doctor would be like. This means that the rest of the comics for 1981 are telling Fourth Doctor’s essentially last stories, but by the time the December issue rolled around, the magazine was given enough information that the Fifth Doctor was coming and what his character would be like, so to coincide with Season 19 airing in January 1982, issue #60 would be the last to feature the Fourth Doctor. Author Steve Parkhouse would stay with the magazine through the beginning of the Sixth Doctor’s run in 1985 and with that there is concerted effort to bring back the style of Mills and Wagner’s longer stories. The Fifth Doctor would debut in a story that lasted for seven issues, his shortest being two two-issue stories. While the comic would eventually go back to single issue stories, many of those stories would be interconnected and part of longer arcs as this is where arcs in the magazine really begin.
As Parkhouse had one issue to fill before the Fifth Doctor started on television he devised The Neutron Knights. This story, like Junk-Yard Demon before it, has an incredibly simple plot with a castle under siege by a group of futuristic knights. The castle is ruled by King Arthur and the Wise Merlin calls upon a Lord of Time for help, dragging the Doctor in to help set a dragon upon the enemies of Arthur, mainly the evil Catavolcus who isn’t actually defeated. Yes the castle explodes while the Doctor is just along for the ride, but the final panels reveal that this story really is just an intent on setting up what is coming next. The final message is the Doctor looking ahead to his own future which will be what happens in The Tides of Time. The inactivity of the Doctor is what really makes this story be held back from what really could have been a great prologue into a brave new era for the comics, but really it’s just a great intriguing prologue without knowing what exactly the point was. It was definitely great, especially with Dave Gibbons’ art style fitting the whole mix of history and future technology here, making the nuclear bomb look like a dragon in a lot of ways and the castle itself having such an interesting little details in the background. It kind of makes the TARDIS look a bit out of place and ends the story end on an odd note, but it creates something different.
Overall, The Neutron Knights makes a great attempt at ending a Doctor’s comic strip era on an important note, looking ahead to what the next Doctor will be doing, something that happens again with the Fifth and Seventh Doctors at the very least creating a trend. It is brought down by being simple but the art and intrigue are enough to make it an ending on a high note. 8/10.