The story illustrated an early-TV Comic style adventure with the Eighth Doctor instead of the First and featuring John and Gillian. The end revealed that the entire strip had been a dream, the Doctor wishing for a more simple life. Many have used this to interpret that all of the TV Comic run (or at least the first 46 non-annual stories) were all dreams within the Doctor's mind.
While it's easy to claim, the intention of the authors was merely to play homage to the early comics, and not necessarily to decanonise them. The original pitch for the anniversary was simply to bring back John and Gillian (similar to how Ian and Barbara were brought back for the 50th anniversary in Hunters of the Burning Stone), who had left the TARDIS for Space University during the Second Doctor's run of comics.
The story certainly doesn't match within the timeline of the original TV Comic, being mostly a tribute to the work of Neville Main. Because of this, it's equally valid to say that the Doctor is merely dreaming in remembrance of his earlier adventures, rather than that they never happened. Grey later stated that many fans became emotional over the reveal, saying, "I think the desire for a simpler, cleaner childhood world is something shared by everyone." The comic was voted the best of the year by Doctor Who Magazine readers.
The Doctor, John and Gillian visit Darbodia where they discover that the inhabitants have been purged of all imagination. Upon discovering that villainous scientist Wargonn has imprisoned the native species, the Doctor and his grandchildren work to foil his schemes.
Landing on Darbodia, the Doctor, John and Gillian are curious as to why the inhabitants are so withdrawn. The Doctor attempts to encourage a reaction by setting off fireworks produced from his amazing Gladstone bag, but draws attention from the ruler Wargonn, who sends his robots to deal with them.
The Doctor is able to fend off the robots by shining a blinding spotlight from his bag onto them to disable their visualisers, but Gillian is captured and taken away. A local artist, Pobla, volunteers to help the Doctor retrieve Gillian and takes him to Darbodia's Parliament House. Inside, the trio fall through a trapdoor and into a prison cell where they find the native Figments — creatures made out of thought that are said to give Darbodians all their dreams — imprisoned. The Doctor uses an acetylene torch from his bag to burn his way out of the prison, and they eventually confront Wargonn in his chamber. Wargonn claims that he imprisoned the Figments because ideas are dangerous and should be controlled by the most intelligent.
The Doctor proves his own intelligence by tricking Wargonn into looking through his bag, which is bigger on the inside due to Time Lord technology. John pushes Wargonn inside in the bag and the Doctor refuses to help him escape until he agrees to surrender; if not, the Doctor will leave Wargonn trapped in the bag forever. With the Figments returned to the city, the Doctor tells the people of Darbodia to take better care of them in future before leaving.
Aboard the TARDIS, the Doctor falls asleep and upon awakening he is saddened to find himself alone. Noting that John and Gillian are figments of his imagination, the Doctor recalls how much he enjoys travelling with the pair in his dreams — where villains are naughty, not evil; people never die, and promises are never broken. The Doctor thinks that, while their worlds may never meet for good, he will never stop trying to make it happen.
to be added
- This comic story was reprinted in The Flood graphic novel.
- John and Gillian are the grandchildren of the First and Second Doctor from the TV Comic strips.
- This is the first appearance of John and Gillian in a comic story since their departure in the comic story Invasion of the Quarks in 1968. In the interim, John had appeared as Professor John Who, head of Space Science, in Beware the Trods! in DWCC 8 in 1993. Furthermore, they had appeared as fictional characters created by Jason, the Master of the Land of Fiction, in the novel Conundrum in 1994.
- This story is dedicated to the work of Neville Main, who illustrated numerous First Doctor comic stories in TV Comic from 1964 to 1966.
- In the story the Doctor states that "people never die" during his travels with John and Gillian. As the comic is primarily a tribute to Neville Main, it does not take into account later comics which were much less lighthearted — such as The Monsters from the Past.
- An alternate version of the story considered by Scott Gray featured John being the one who was trying to relive his adventures. The story would have revealed the "world" to be a game being played by a 50-year-old John after the death of Gillian. John would have been saved and confronted by the real Eighth Doctor. When mentioning this idea to Clayton Hickman, Gray said that Hickman "made a face like he'd eaten a giant lemon soaked in vinegar. With onions." They eventually went with the more positive outlook of the Doctor dreaming about their adventures.
- In the graphic novel The Flood, Gray briefly jokes that his only regret with the comic is not having the Doctor wear his second incarnation's stovepipe hat, which was seen in spin-off media but rarely on TV.
- Donna Noble once dreamt of an idyllic family life with two twin children, and was shocked to discover that it wasn't real. (TV: Forest of the Dead)
- The Moderator General once also deemed ideas as dangerous and outlawed them, along with all emotions, until being stopped by the Fourth Doctor. (PROSE: City of the Damned)