It was notable not only for being the first comic strip published in the magazine, but also for having the first appearance of the village of Stockbridge, a recurring location within the strip. However, the name "Stockbridge" is never used in this story and would not appear until the village's third appearance in Stars Fell on Stockbridge. It would not be explicitly confirmed that the unnamed village in this story was Stockbridge until 2008's The Stockbridge Child, which paid tribute to Doctor Who and the Iron Legion by having the Tenth Doctor land his TARDIS in the exact same place the Fourth Doctor parked his.
The story would later be adapted into a Big Finish Productions audio story, released on 13th March 2019 as part of the comic strip adaptations, and the name was reused as the title for the graphic novel containing the first five stories originally published in Doctor Who Weekly..
- 1 Summary
- 2 Plot
- 3 Characters
- 4 References
- 5 Notes
- 6 Continuity
A robot legionnaire attacks a small English town in the 1970s. Tracing them to their origin, the Fourth Doctor arrives on another Earth in which the Roman Empire conquered the galaxy with their Iron Legion of robots commanded by General Ironicus, a servant of what he calls the gods.
Escaping from the General and from the Ectoslime in the arena where the boy emperor, Adolphus Caesar, and his mother Juno watch, the Doctor is enslaved onboard a ship travelling home. Joining forces with escapee Morris and Vesuvius (one of the oldest robots left), the Doctor discovers the Gods of Rome are the evil Malevilus, five winged demonic creatures who feed off death. The Doctor awakens the Bestiarus, unsuccessful genetically engineered soldiers kept in storage to create maximum disruption in the city.
Magog, Adolphus's "mother", is unhappy to see the Doctor. She ultimately kills the General. As Magog changes shape to kill the Doctor, the whole of Rome watches on vidscreens and they revolt. Returning the Doctor to the TARDIS, Magog is tricked into being expelled from the craft into an empty dimension. She vows to return. The other Malevilus are attacked by the Bestiarus in their temple, a spaceship which explodes and kills them all.
The citizens make Vesuvius the new emperor and the Doctor suggests a boarding school for Adolphus.
The Iron Legion
While a legionnaire of robot veterans fresh from the Eternal War being pillaging the countryside of Stockbridge, the Fourth Doctor visits a shop where he meets the terrified shopkeeper. Not long after the elderly shopkeeper warned of something coming did a robotic Roman appear and shoot him dead. Turning to the Doctor, the robot suffered an apparent malfunction - unable to cope with the impossible calculation of there being two hearts in one human body. The Doctor wasted no time in removing the Roman's head with his sonic screwdriver, and declared the robot to be the First Cohort of the Ninth Legion.
Inside a ballista, General Ironicus communes with the Gods - requesting that the Eternal War continue until the End of time. The Gods praise Ironicus' actions as evil. However, the meeting is cut short when a guard enters and claims that the First Cohort has suffered from a brain seizure. Having finished examining the First Cohort's head, the Doctor leaves the shop - only to be confronted by several robots outside. The Romans open fire as he races towards the TARDIS. He is engulfed in an enormous explosion.
Into the Dimension Duct
Elsewhere at the Rome Hyp-Arena, sports Commentator Maximus Bilious hosts the gladiatorial games. While waiting for the Emperor's signal for the games to begin, Maximus interviews Barbarius - Keeper of the Monsters - about the monstrous combatants. Barb confirms that all the monsters are ready for the fight, especially the Ectoslime. General Ironicus arrives through the Dimension Duct, but his arrival is interrupted when the TARDIS follows suit and the Doctor is mistaken for the Emperor. Ironcius has the Doctor apprehended just as the real Emperor, young Adolphus, appears and orders the games to begin.
The Doctor soon realises that this is an alternate Earth in which the Roman Empire never fell and eventually conquered the galaxy. Watching the carnage of the fight below, Ironicus demands to know the secrets of the TARDIS. When the Doctor refuses to tell him anything, the Time Lord is thrown to the Ectoslime.
Enter the Ectoslime
Having been thrown into the arena with the Ectoslime, the Doctor consults his memory files - hoping that he had encountered the creature before and could therefore remember a weakness. Showing no mercy, General Ironicus orders the Doctor to be killed. Fortunately the Doctor locates his memories of the Ectoslime and, recalling that one of their distinguishing characteristics is a highly developed sense of humour, he tells the Ectoslime a joke in an alien language - incapacitating it.
General Ironicus is displeased with the Doctor's survival, and forces him to become a slave on the Imperial Air Galley. Transporting the Royal family from the Eternal City to the Temple of the Gods, the Doctor is put to work powering the Air Galley along with all the other slaves and befriends Morris. When Adolphus and his mother pass, the Doctor notices something sinister about the woman - and suspects that he has just uncovered the secret of the Galactic Roman Empire.
Temple of the Gods
As the air galley arrives at the Temple of the Gods, the Doctor notes that the temple is in fact a spaceship. With the help of Morris' bionic arm, the Doctor is able to break free from his restraints and the pair escape after Morris incapacitates the Overseer. Fleeing from the guards, the Doctor and Morris soon encounter a strange robot - Vesuvius, the oldest robot in Rome.
Noticing that the robot is in distress, the Doctor helps to relieve his pressure. As thanks for the Doctor's kindness, Vesuvius agrees to take him to the Gods. Deep within the temple they discover General Ironicus praying to the statues of the Gods, but the Doctor realises all too late that his suspicions were true. The statues come to life - revealing themselves as the Malevilus and the Gods of the Roman Empire.
Against the Gods
Hiding in the shadows, the Doctor, Morris and Vesuvius watch in horror as General Ironicus offers the other slaves as sacrifices to the Gods. As the five beasts feast upon the offerings, the Doctor names them - Babiyon, Abiss, Epok, Nekros, and the most powerful of all Magog, demonic creatures who feed upon death. Vesuvius tells the Doctor that he knows the secret of the Gods, but before he is able to divulge - the trio is located an Alien Guard and held at gunpoint with a bacta-gun. Overpowered by Morris, the guard relinquishes his gun and the Doctor uses it to threaten Ironicus.
Unwilling to lose Ironicus, Magog allows the Doctor and his comrades to escape. However, when Ironicus manages to free himself - the Malevilus attack. Making their way to an Air car, the Doctor asks Vesuvius to tell him the secret of the Gods - only to find that the robot is unable to remember. With the Malevilus on their tail, the group break through an Observation window - only to find their path blocked by a Robot Flying Squad.
Death in the Air
The Malevilus refuse to follow the group outside, as they do not want the people of Rome to see their true forms, which leaves only the flying squad to oppose the group. The Doctor orders Morris to use the bacta-gun against them, which easily dispenses of the squad. Remembering the secret of the Gods, Vesuvius informs the Doctor that Magog has taken over Adolphus's mother, Juno, and plans to take over Adolphus himself once the young Emperor ascends to the throne.
At that moment one of the robots is revealed to still be alive and shoots Morris, the trio manage to find shelter within the catacombs - where Morris succumbs to his fatal wound. The Doctor quizzes Vesuvius about the catacombs and comes to learn that they contain the "Beast-men", soldiers genetically engineered by the Malevilus. The soldiers were deemed unsuccessful and deactivated, later replaced with the robots, and have laid in the catacombs for centuries. Despite Vesuvius protests, the Doctor reveals his plans to wake the beasts and use them against the Malevilus.
The Beast-Men Awake
Waking the Beast-men the Doctor reprograms them to function for twenty-four hours and orders the army to use the catacombs in order to strike at strategical points and reclaim Rome. While the army sets off to work, Vesuvius complains about his low oil levels - but the Doctor dismisses his concerns and tells him that he will be fine.
Together the Doctor and Vesuvius head to the chariot races at Circus Maximus to confront Magog and General Ironicus. When the Doctor arrives, an infuriated Magog showcases his power and causes Ironcius to spontaneously combust. Transforming, Magog loses the guise of Juno and shows his true form - before lunging at the Doctor.
The Final Battle
As the revolution begins the Beast-men violently clash with the robots.
Back at the races, Magog shows the Doctor the true extent of his power and relentlessly tortures him. However, the Doctor manages to turn the television equipment on him - exposing his true nature and intentions to the people of Rome. The people join the Beast-men in a revolution, but Magog claims that he will gain control of them again once he has dealt with the Doctor. Forcing the Time Lord back to the TARDIS, Magog demands to know how the ship works - and is ultimately tricked by the Doctor into opening a conduit to an Empty dimension. Defiant, Magog declares that he will one day return. While the other Malevilus are killed when their ship is destroyed by the Beast-men.
With things returning to normal, the people name Vesuvius as their new Emperor - and the Doctor suggests that Adolphus be sent to a strict boarding school on Cryos Four. After this the Doctor left, planning a vacation to Benidorm.
- Fourth Doctor
- First Cohort of the Ninth Legion
- General Ironicus
- Maximus Bilious
- Adolphus Caesar
- Alien Guard
Foods and beverages
- The Fourth Doctor steps into a local corner shop to stock up on provisions and jelly babies. He offers to pay for them with Zaggan pound notes.
- The Doctor just arrived from Zaggar-Six.
- Kronks originate from the Crab Nebula.
- The Doctor suggest that Vesuvius sends Adolphus to a boarding school on the Ice planet Cryos Four, run by an order of Lukronian Vorks.
- The Doctor plans to go on vacation to Benidorm.
- Although Pat Mills and John Wagner are jointly credited as taking turns to write the scripts, The Iron Legion was written by Pat Mills. (The Iron Legion's Dave Gibbons Interview)
- The Iron Legion was submitted as a television story, but rejected. (The Iron Legion's Dave Gibbons Interview)
- When reprinted over two issues of Marvel Premiere, the second half of the story was retitled Against the Gods!
- The first words ever spoken by the Doctor in Doctor Who Weekly Issue 1 were; "I must stock up with provisions. I haven't had a thing to eat since I took off from Zaggar-Six!"
- This story was later strongly implied to be related to the events of Lance Parkin's Faction Paradox novel Warlords of Utopia.
- K9's absence in this and the following story is explained in K-9's Finest Hour.
- The Doctor refers to "abominable snowmen", (TV: The Abominable Snowmen) Autons, (TV: Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons) Axos, (TV: The Claws of Axos) Dæmons, (TV: The Dæmons) Daleks (TV: The Daleks, et. al) and dinosaurs (TV: Invasion of the Dinosaurs) when going through a list of creatures that he has encountered when confronted by the Ectoslime.
- Kronkburgers are later seen in TV: The Long Game.
- The Doctor attempted to buy jelly babies. (TV: Robot, The Robots of Death, et al)
- During the War in Heaven, the "Ferrum Legion" were part of the Empire of Empires before it was sealed away from the Great Houses. (PROSE: Warlords of Utopia)
Original print details
- DWM 1 (5 pages) The Iron Legion
- DWM 2 (4 pages) Into the Dimension Duct
- DWM 3 (4 pages) Enter the Ectoslime
- DWM 4 (4 pages) Temple of the Gods
- DWM 5 (5 pages) Against the Gods
- DWM 6 (4 pages) Death in the Air
- DWM 7 (4 pages) The Beast-Men Awake
- DWM 8 (4 pages) The Final Battle
- DWMS Summer 1980
- MP 57-58 (Marvel Premiere colourised reprint)
- DWMS Summer 1985 (Marvel Premiere colourised reprint)
- The Iron Legion
- DWC 1-2 (IDW colourised reprint)
- Doctor Who Classics Volume 1 (IDW colourised reprint)
- Doctor Who Classics Omnibus Volume 1 (IDW colourised reprint)