Graphic Novel Reviews

The Only Good Dalek

(2010) Justin Richards & Mike Collins, BBC Books (Ebury – Random Ho), £12.99 / US$20.99, hrdbk, 128pp, ISBN 978-1-846-07984-9


This is a light and colourful graphic novel ideal for youngsters aged 11 – 14 years (and for older SF fans giving a present to youngsters and who want to sneak a read: which is how I come to be reviewing this title).

Our story begins – as oft is the way with Doctor Who stories – with the TARDIS materialising in a petrified forest. It transpires that it is an artificial biome of the Skaro petrified forest. And, of course as Skaro is the home planet of the Thals and Daleks (Kaleds), so there have to be Daleks around. It soon transpires that the Doctor (the Matt Smith incarnation) and Amy Pond have arrived in the future on an Earth space station being used to research into Daleks in a bid to get an edge over them in an on-going human-Dalek war…

This is a light tale that scores having a few references to classic Who characters including the Ogrons, Robomen and even (though only visually) Mechanoids. It simple, but colourful, artwork is ideal for the target age range and largely well done (with the exception of the full and double page spread battle scenes that are a tad lacking).  Where this graphic novel is a let down is the science. For example, Justin Richards is unclear as to power sources and their detection: apparently nuclear powered steam generators of electricity (which is how nuclear stations do actually work) can be detected a number of ways. Now, this may seem a trivial point but speaking on behalf of young geeks (who are typically a few school years ahead of their peers when it comes to science, and who form a significant constituent juvenile SF consumers) they deserve better! Sadly Richards has previous form when it comes to science and technicality flaws (cf. Dr Who: The Dalek Project) and he really needs to deal with it (as do BBC Books' commissioning editors).

Science flaws aside (and science is an important part of SF – it is in the title for goodness' sake), this is a delightful little graphic novel that young Who fans will enjoy.

Jonathan Cowie

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