Official Plot Synopsis:
Exiled to the Earth by the Time Lords, Dr. Who is living in a West End hotel. A learned Professor implores the Doctor to speak to the students at London University on the subject of advanced engineering techniques and the time traveller agrees. But when Dr. Who takes a well-earned holiday, he becomes the victim of a sinister plot. The Brotherhood, an international crime syndicate, kidnap him since he is the one man with the know-how to retrieve the Aztec gold buried in the iron-hard med-bed of a dried up Mexican lake has so far defied all efforts to extract it. The Doctor's special explosives expose the gold and also some giant earthworms...
That’s Kind of Cool:
The Doctor being conscripted into the Mafia is a great idea, especially as to all intents and purposes he might as well be working for UNIT – he gets the all the top technology and resources, and helps an organization as payment. In this case, payment for them not killing him, and since he doesn’t have the TARDIS, he can’t even hide from the worldwide mob, let alone escape. There’s also a surprising amount of emotional maturity from the Doctor, as he realizes that helping out the Brotherhood doesn’t balance out saving his own skin, and the idea that the Doctor helping them steal Aztec treasure will save the lives of the Brotherhood and cops who would have certainly perished if they kept their bank raids. The Doctor’s xeno-tech explosive causing the giant worms is an interesting side effect, as is the two-day wait for the mud to cool – an incredibly rare acknowledgement of the law of physics. All this an interesting back story in eight pages!
You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me:
Once again, the very first page smashes my skull open. I might have bought the Doctor’s fame getting him a job as a uni lecturer. I might have bought him being asked to discuss lots of alien ideas as a kind of laid-back 1960s Torchwood. But this?!?
It doesn’t help that when Countdown takes over the duty of printing Doctor Who comic strips in the 70s – the period where they became canon-worthy, brilliant drawn works of art – the very first story has a madman intending to use nuclear bombs to knock Venus into orbit around Earth, and the Doctor is the only person to fix it. In ANY other format, I would have called it foreshadowing, the Doctor’s hubris payback... but no.
The Doctor decides to not ONLY reveal all sorts of abominable future and alien secrets, he does it to a bunch of uni students. And then writes the formula for incredibly powerful planet-moving explosives on the blackboard. Where ANYONE could see it and use it. Even if the Doctor is making all this crap up for a laugh at the students’ expense and the formula is for a high protein cheese, it’s still stupid – why didn’t they get the Doctor to do a history class?! Once again the Doctor considers living in the Carlton Grange hotel better than "dashing round the universe" – if his next incarnation was there, he’d probably blow a blood vessel at his naivete...
Surely the Illuminati have more imaginative ways to get the Doctor to work for him than "do it or die!"? And wouldn’t employing an alien be some kind of issue – at the very least, they can point out the Doctor has no official existence or something and help out, like UNIT did. Why hasn’t UNIT noticed the Doctor by now when he’s literally front-page news?! When they’re looking for him!
The Brotherhood is apparently a syndicate even bigger than Mafia. It must have branches all over the world. Yet it finances itself solely on robbing banks – which often leaves them out of pocket? How did the Brotherhood gain such notoriety that even the Doctor knows of them, when they still haven’t gained control of ‘protection rackets’? And isn’t it a bit risky waiting until the afternoon the Elder reveals the Aztec Gold plan before checking out one of the Doctor’s lectures to see if he’s clever enough for the job? If the Doctor is so famous, why do they need to check out his lecture – they clearly don’t understand whether or not his formulae makes any sense!
Although a sinister black Brotherhood helicopter is not an unusual sight in London (according to the narrator), ANY helicopter making a completely unannounced landing on a hotel roof should get some kind of reaction – not least by the patrons sunbathing there!
The Doctor is taking a ‘well-earned holiday’ after doing one lecture at London Uni? How slack is this bastard? Is he now using ‘holiday’ as a euphemism for ‘exile’?
Two MIBs walk up to a celebrity like the Doctor, who notes he’s no idea who they are, then ‘collapses’ and the MIBs ‘take him to hospital’. In a helicopter. Not the safest of transports, especially when the newspapers will no doubt be full of the fact the Doctor isn’t human and would react badly (let’s overlook the idea the anaesthetic doesn’t kill the Doctor right away). Basically, they all but shout "We’re kidnapping him!" and no one does a bloody thing! Is this supposed to show that the public KNOW the MIBs are from the Brotherhood and are too terrified of reprisals to interfere with the charade? And what happens to the Doctor’s stuff at the hotel? Do the Brotherhood pay off the staff to keep his room ready? With what – they’re out of cash? Mind you, why keep a London hotel in pocket when the Doctor is press-ganged into working in Mexico for months on end? Come to think of it, how does the Doctor pay for it anyway? Does he have money sent over from Jamie? Or does he whore himself out to journalists and mad scientists to pay the bills?
Why do they send the Doctor to help collect the gold? They wanted him there for his chemist skills at making explosive, not for archaeology. Did he volunteer for it out of curiosity?
Why the hell does the Elder insist they keep heading for the gold when he knows for a fact giant carnivorous earthworms are on the loose? Is he insane?
How come the worms die from gunshot wounds? They’re worms! Giant prehistoric worms! Mutated giant prehistoric worms! At worst, they’d split into two worms and be twice as mad! And they’re pretty quick to adapt to sunlight and lower pressure, even given strange mutating side-effects...
How far is the lake from civilization, since the Doctor can summon the police (who recognize him) to arrive and round up the ‘top men’ of an infamous criminal syndicate ‘soon’? And no one asks about the fact he was working with them? Or proof of them being part of the Brotherhood? And the lifelong gangsters never once try to overpower the Doctor and escape?
Shouldn’t any benefits from the Aztec Gold go to the Mexican People? Does the Doctor mean that when he says "charity"? And does anyone expect the authorities to agree just so the Doctor can help them with a bit of archaeology, since the last time he created a plague of giant mutant prehistoric worms?
Words of Wisdom:
"The Elder was right, Dr. Who is our man!" "Most definitely! The Brotherhood will be pleased!" "To the meeting place. And fast!" – It sounds impressive, but it turns out to be a rather dingy apartment block basement where old gits smoke and play cards. Not quite the Illuminati, is it?
"To the headquarters. And fast!" "The Brotherhood Leaders are awaiting our return with Dr. Who!" – This over-expositional, unrealistic and repetitive dialogue is bad enough, but apparently is it being spoken in a flying helicopter. Not the environment for needless chatter. Why the pilot doesn’t tell them to shut up, I dunno...
"The Spaniards, they come...! Our treasure must be hidden! If we survive the attack our divers will be able to recover the tribe’s wealth!" – John Lucarroti just wasn’t trying.
"The story begins centuries ago in Mexico when the Spanish Conquistadors pillaged and slaughtered their way through the Aztec Nation. Detachments of soldiers were sent into the hills to strike at one of the most isolated Aztec settlements. But look-outs warned the tribe. Rather than let their valuables fall into Spanish hands the Aztecs hurled them into a mountain lake. Needless to say, the Aztecs did not survive and their treasure laid on the lake bottom undisturbed for five centuries – UNTIL 1965!! That year, American millionaires financed an attempt to drain the lake, but when they did so, they found the treasure had sunk deep into the oozing mud-bed. Before any attempt could be organized to extract the treasure from the lake bottom the blazing Mexican sun baked the mud harder than concrete. No drilling gear could penetrate the mud effectively enough to make the operation economical. Historians estimate this Aztec treasure to worth around ten million pounds!" – Brother Carlos gives a surprisingly detailed and well-thought out plot synopsis. Of course, that monologue probably took days of researching at university, and nowadays they could have looked up a wikipedia entry...
"By the powers! See what looms up at us! A giant earthworm! Such things just don’t exist on Earth! Wait, though! My explosives, they could have had strange side effects. The worm might be prehistoric. That means the whole lake bed is probably riddled with them!" – The Doctor notes what’s important as a giant monster hurtles straight for his unprotected face.
"Off the lake bed and make it quick! Anyone tries to give me the slip and I shan’t hesitate to shoot!" – A week with mobsters and even the Doctor can be corrupted into a gun-totting psychopath. Assuming he isn’t one already.
"Rogues like zem are a threat to peace everywhere!" – A Mexican Policeman tries to find something to say when a tabloid celebrity captures the brains of an international crime organization beside a melted lake bed teaming with giant mutated carnivorous earthworms. And fails.
- Carlos tells the Brotherhood that the man who can help them is Dr. Who. Next week Dr. Who is kidnapped by the Brotherhood!
- The Doctor broods that he’s giving the Brotherhood more power than they’ve ever had. Can the Doctor unearth the greatest treasure in the world?
- The Doctor and the other team members flee the crevice. “Climb for your lives,” the Doctor shouts. “There are other creatures like that all around us!” Can the Doctor and his party escape the giant worms?
- The Doctor agrees to help the proper authorities with excavating the Aztec treasure on the condition the proceeds go to charity. Look out for a new space-time adventure next week! (and that's completely accurate, BTW, even with the whole "exiled to Earth" meme...)
At the End of the Day:
Not a bad story, especially considering they can’t do a proper Doctor/Mafiosi story in a children’s comic, and it’s interesting to see the lengths the story goes through to have the Doctor fight giant monsters in Mexico without a TARDIS to dump him there. Unfortunately, like The Mark of Terror!, it involves the Doctor taking part in ridiculous social events to get him involved in a story, since the story could have started with part two and the Doctor’s kidnap with no problems at all. The Aztec Gold plot is quite up-to-date with the contemporary attempts to drain El Dorado, the lake where legend has it an ancient gold-rich civilization left a fortune be washed to the bottom every day, while tackling the Mafia at ALL is a big step forward to the comic and helps balance out the giant monsters with some realism. The downer is how easily the story is resolved and the Doctor saying that the scientists will have fun studying the worms and then the worms deserve to be rendered extinct, which is rich, considering he created them in the first place. Not bad, but it seems they already seem sick of the ‘stuck in England’ restriction and found excuses to do old fashioned stories...