The three hundred and forty-ninth best-selling comic in July 2018, at least according to “Diamond Comic Distributors”, Issue Two of “Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor” would certainly seem to contain the pieces necessary to make a successful publication which captures the very spirit of the BBC Television series during Sylvester McCoy’s tenure as the titular character. But despite it concerning giant extra-terrestrial spaceships, “a mysterious snake-like alien entity” and plenty of spy-fi thrills as Professor Rachel Jensen and Doctor Allison Williams are abducted away to “a volcanic archipelago off the Pacific Coast of Mexico” at gun-point, this twenty-two page periodical also arguably includes the self-same flaws which led to the increasing unpopular programme being cancelled at the end of 1989.
For starters, there never seems to be any sense of actual jeopardy throughout this publication, even when Group Captain Gilmore’s military unit are about to swallowed up in “a lethal cloud of radioactive dust” having been stranded in the Australian desert “with no communications and no transport.” Previously described as both “secretive and manipulative”, arguably one of the biggest criticisms levelled against the Scottish actor’s incarnation of the Doctor was his seeming “well devious” omnipotence and Andrew Cartmel’s script for this second instalment to “Operation Volcano” disappointingly provides it ‘in spades’ by depicting the troublesome Time Lord somehow conveniently conjuring up futuristic sand-gliders from a handful of tent pieces, so as to speed the party ahead of the oncoming storm; “Luckily, we still have the tents I brought. Rather useful, flexible items… Now, let’s help Ace dismantle them and reassemble them in a new configuration.”
Such contrivances permeate this book’s proceedings and resultantly probably repeatedly jarred its 2,842 readers from out of any reverie which they had acquired from its story-telling. Just how, for example, did the aggressive aliens manage to get one of their kind, namely Gilmore’s immediate subordinate Delafield, ensconced at the Intrusion Countermeasures Group Command Headquarters at Blythburgh House in Oxford at precisely the same time as Jensen suddenly sends the Group Captain a telegram urgently requiring the “physician”..? Or how does the Gallifreyan inexplicably deduce that by burying the corpse of a previously killed serpent at an Aboriginal scared site, its apparently inert dead body will still transmit a signal to its brethren and encourage them to manifest themselves in front of an armed military unit..?
Perhaps the former magazine editor’s biggest disappointment however is his script’s inclusion of yet another in a long line of amiable aliens who have the incredible good fortune to be able to mentally mind meld with one of the leading cast and subsequently provide both the humans, as well as this book’s audience, with plenty of exposition as to what is going on and why the anaconda-long multi-tentacled reptiles have been able to live unnoticed on the Earth since they first arrived thousands of years earlier. Sadly what Cartmel can’t explain though, is just how a serpent with no limbs whatsoever is capable of building the technologically advanced space-ships which “the Feds” apparently used to trace the “dangerous crooks” to our world in the first place..?