Saturday, 6 October 2012

‘The Only Good Dalek’ - Justin Richards, Mike Collins (BBC Books)

The Daleks are undergoing a little bit of a renaissance in my house these days, not only because of the latest series of ‘Doctor Who’ but also because Hope has developed a real fascination with science fiction robots. If she’s not running around with her C3P0 and R2D2 toys then she’s yelling ‘Exterminate!’ or ‘Delete!’ at people in the street. Oh well, any excuse to get another piece of Dalek/Doctor Who merchandise into the house… :o)

‘The Only Good Dalek’ is another title that I’ve had my eye on for a while but have only just got round to securing a copy. All good things come to those who wait though, or do they…?
I’ve already reviewed ‘The Dalek Project’ here, I had a few issues with it, and was hoping for better things from ‘The Only Good Dalek’. This graphic novel offered more of the same problems though and I was left wondering if this is a format that BBC Books really want to pursue as it is. This is a real shame considering that the strips from ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ have been collected rather nicely by Panini, IDW are doing some good work here as well).

Blurb copied and pasted as I’m having a bit of a lazy Saturday over here…

Station 7 is where the Earth Forces send all the equipment captured in their unceasing war against the Daleks. It's where Dalek technology is analyzed and examined. It's where the Doctor and Amy have just arrived. But somehow the Daleks have found out about Station 7 - and there's something there that they want back! With the Doctor increasingly worried about the direction the Station's research is taking, the commander of Station 7 knows he has only one possible, desperate defense. Because the last terrible secret of Station 7 is that they don't only store captured Dalek technology - it's also a prison. And the only thing that might stop a Dalek is another Dalek!

‘The Only Good Dalek’ has proved to be a very difficult review to write, as I really wanted to avoid repeating what I’d written for ‘The Dalek Project’. That’s more or less impossible though in terms of the artwork (Mike Collins is doing it again here) so I’m just going to jump right in and quote what I said last time,

‘I’m really half and half on Mike Collins’ artwork which can come across as rushed at times (almost scribbled) which works in terms of showing how urgent the situation is but also just ends up looking, well… rushed really.’

As with ‘The Dalek Project’ though, Collins does throw a few gems out there for us to come across as we read. He’s a dab hand at space battles for a start and he certainly doesn’t shy away from showing us the number of grisly ways that a person can die fighting the Daleks.

The plot itself is, again, very straightforward with a couple of little twists that aren’t all that surprising but do pop up at just the right time i.e. just when it looks like things might be running out of steam. For all the action and excitement though, and there is loads, I couldn’t escape from the feeling that there wasn’t actually an awful lot happening. If I had to sum the book up in one sentence it would be ‘Daleks cannot be trusted and space stations are places where it’s very easy to get lost’. An awful lot of running around happens here, something that I think comes across a lot better on the screen as oppose to a comic. The fact that I can sum the book up in one sentence would rather suggest that there isn’t an awful lot here to get your teeth into.

But it’s the Daleks though! :o) Despite my misgivings about the book, as a whole, it’s still all too easy to get into just how relentlessly evil these aliens are. I found that it was very easy, sometimes, to put my misgivings to one side and just watch the Daleks doing what they do best, Richards’ Daleks exterminate all other life with the best of them.

And before I finish here, I’ve got to say that if ‘The Only Good Dalek’ is canon (and as a BBC book I’m pretty sure that it is) then there is such a thing as a ‘good Dalek’ and the Doctor knows it as well. I don’t know what that was all about in the book… I always swore that I’d stay well clear of canon so I won’t do it again :o)

‘The Only Good Dalek’ is another fun read that doesn’t quite stand up to more determined scrutiny. It’s still worth a look (whether you’re a fan or not) but you should bear that in mind before giving it a go.

Seven and a Half out of Ten

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