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Comic Book Review
The secret is out, and there’s nowhere to hide from Ravenscaur’s monstrous residents! Clara and the Doctor have discovered that the pupils and teachers of Ravenscaur are actually a murderous band of Sea Devils, disguised as humans, intent upon claiming back ‘their’ planet… and their conspiracy stretches all the way up to the office of the Prime Minister! It’s not an invasion, it’s a victory march! Have the Doctor and Clara finally found themselves in too deep…?
Well, of course the monstrous residents of Ravenscaur are Sea Devils! Surely you had guessed as much before the full reveal at the end of last issue. The underwater habitat, the reptilian biology, and the ‘story so far’ panel’s repeated warnings about “an old menace… about to rise” all pointed towards the return of the Silurians’ aquatic cousins. A couple of factors have obfuscated the matter, though, distracting the reader from the truth.
Firstly, these specimens of Homo reptilia don’t look much like the Sea Devils of old. But then, neither did the Silurians when they appeared in the new series. At least we get an explanation for their different appearance this time – the Doctor muses that they are “a warrior-class of some sort, perhaps.” During this sequence, we are treated to a flashback featuring the likenesses of Roger Delgado as the Master, Katy Manning as Jo Grant and Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor in 1972’s The Sea Devils.
Secondly, these Sea Devils seem rather out of character. Sure, they want to reclaim the Earth, as usual, but their method for doing so does not strike me as typical Sea Devil behaviour: masquerading as humans, really getting into character while doing so; possessing people, via their young, which hatch from eggs and leap onto victims like the Facehuggers in the Alien franchise. The Doctor explains that when the victims are of more evolved species, the hatchlings’ attack results in a merging of minds – so perhaps the Sea Devils have acquired some human characteristics along the way.
While I’m splitting hairs, this issue opens with a flashback to the Ravenscaur disaster of 1909 (when the Raven Peninsula became an island), but two episodes ago this event was said to have taken place in 1907. The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to ward off the Sea Devils, as his third incarnation once did, but he shouldn’t really be using this instrument at this point, as he swore off it for most of Series 9. Perhaps Clara dropped hers (which she got from the Doctor in The Fractures) when she was dragged underwater last issue, and then the Doctor picked it up.
Talking of the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee maintained that the most effective Doctor Who stories were those set close to home, like this one: “I had a great belief that it was much more frightening to stay on Earth – that all the threats should come to Earth, rather than us going off to other planets. There’s nothing more alarming than coming home and finding a Yeti sitting on your loo in Tooting Bec.” Writer Robbie Morrison echoes this sentiment by having a Sea Devil rear up out of Clara’s bath.
Also in common with the Pertwee era, there’s a brief appearance by UNIT, with the presence of two Osgoods suggesting a placement after The Zygon Inversion. I expect we’ll see more of them next issue, when this entertaining story reaches its conclusion…