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Doctor Who and the Iron Legion — or The Iron Legion — was a Fourth Doctor comic strip published in Doctor Who Weekly. 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.
A robot legionnaire attacks a small English town of 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 Fourth Doctor lands in Stockbridge. He enters a shop where a scared old man, the shopkeeper, is despairing. He says that something's coming. A robotic Roman enters the shop and kills the old man. Turning to the Doctor, the robot malfunctions due to an impossible calculation of two hearts that the Doctor possesses. It automatically turns off and the Doctor examines its head. He claims that it is fascinating.
Inside a ballista, General Ironicus is in commune with the gods. The Gods find his actions evil. A guard enters and claims that one of the legionnaires has had a brain seizure.
The Doctor now leaves the shop, slightly confused. Outside, Romans open fire as he races towards the TARDIS. He is engulfed in an enormous explosion.
The Doctor is able to escape, but falls into the dimension duct.
At the Hyp-Arena, Maximus Bilious is commentating on the Roman sports channel. He explains that they are waiting for the emperor's decision to begin the games. He interviews Barbarius, keeper of the monsters. The monsters are evidently ready for a fight, especially the Ectoslime.
General Ironicus arrives, but his arrival is interrupted when the TARDIS appears in the middle of the procession. He is apprehended as he exits his ship. The young emperor arrives and declares the games to begin. The Doctor soon realises that this is an alternative Earth where the Roman Empire never fell. He watches from his position at the carnage of the fighting below.
General Ironicus is keen to use the Doctor's ship, but he refuses and so the Time Lord is thrown to the Ectoslime.
After being thrown into the arena, with the Ectoslime, the Doctor attempts to think his way out of his predicament. General Ironicus orders him to be killed. However, the Doctor suddenly has an idea and speaks a foreign language to the creature. Now harmless, the Doctor explains that the creatures have quite a good sense of humour and he had just told a joke.
General Ironicus is displeased with the Doctor's mocking attitude and forces him to work on the Air Galley carrying the Royal Family, including Adolphus Caesar. There, the Doctor meets Morris. When Caesar and his mother passes, the Doctor notices something sinister about her and informs Morris. He claims to have discovered the secret of the Galactic Roman Empire.
As the air galley arrives at the Temple of the Gods, the Doctor plans to escape with Morris. They flee from guards attempting to protect the temple. As they attempt to infiltrate the temple, the Doctor spots a strange robot, talking rapidly, walk by. He helps the robot release his pressure, and the robot thanks him, introducing himself as Vesuvius, the oldest robot in Rome.
Vesuvius shows the Doctor and Morris the way into the temple, where they discover General Ironicus praying to statues of his Gods. The Doctor realises too late that his suspicions are true. The Malevilus statues come to life, revealing themselves as the gods of the Galactic Roman Empire.
With the Doctor, Morris and Vesuvius' arrival, General Ironicus offers them up as tributes to the Gods. Morris attempts to defend his friends. Ironicus holds up a bacta-gun, which will rust Vesuvius if they do not cooperate. He is overpowered, however, by Morris and the Doctor now threatens the General with the weapon. They flee the temple and out to find a vehicle that will take them away from danger.
The Gods follow in pursuit as they believe Ironicus to be useful to their plans. While escaping in the craft, the Doctor questions Vesuvius about his knowledge of the Roman Empire and what plans the Gods may have in the near future. The robot is unable to answer though as he's too distracted by the attack. They break free of the city, only to be surrounded by a patrol of ships outside.
- Fourth Doctor
- Adolphus Caesar
- Maximus Bilious
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.
- The Doctor suggest that Vesuvius sends Adolphus to a boarding school on the Ice Planet Cryos Four, run by an order of Lukronianvorks.
- 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.
Original print details
- (Publication with page count and closing captions)
- DWM 1 (5 pages) Next week: Into the Dimension Duct!
- DWM 2 (4 pages) Next Week: Enter the Ecto-Slime!
- DWM 3 (4 pages) Next Week: Temple of the Gods!
- DWM 4 (4 pages) Next Issue: Against the Gods!
- DWM 5 (5 pages) Next Week: Death in the Air!
- DWM 6 (4 pages) Next Week: The Beast-Men Awake!
- DWM 7 (4 pages) Next: The Final Battle!
- DWM 8 (4 pages) Next Issue: Join the Doctor in City of the Damned!
- 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)
- 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.
- 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)