TARDIS Index File

Death's Head (1988)

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The cover to issue #8

Death's Head (1988) was a 1988 American comic book-style series published by Marvel Comics UK. It featured the exploits of a robotic mercenary character named Death's Head. The first of the Marvel titles to bear the name Death's Head, it is sometimes imprecisely called Death's Head I for casual clarity, even though it is technically the only Death's Head title to bear the indicia name of simply Death's Head.

It is of interest to the DWU because it featured a story in which the title character met the Seventh Doctor. It is of interest to the Marvel universe because it — largely by implication —turns at least the Seventh Doctor into a character within the MU.

Title history Edit

Created by Simon Furman, Death's Head had debuted in the Marvel UK Transformers series and then made his way into the Doctor Who Magazine strip, as well as the prefiguring Dragon's Claws, which led immediately to this solo title.

Death's Head (1988) ran for ten issues, then ended on a cliffhanger due to Marvel US' decision to radically curtail Marvel UK's activities. Despite the reduction in UK-based creative staff, the storyline of this series was resolved in a Marvel UK graphic novel called Death's Head: The Body in Question.

Other Death's Head titles Edit

It's important to distinguish this series from other, following series.

  • Death's Head II was the last gasp of the character at Marvel UK. However, it featured a new version of Death's Head. This "second Death's Head" was the combination of a living being named Minion and the mind of the original Death's Head, stabilised by the efforts of Reed Richards of the prime Marvel universe's Fantastic Four. The resulting creature was thus a cyborg, which further distinguished him from the original.
  • The Incomplete Death's Head was a reprint series that featured the original incarnation of Death's Head. Of importance to Doctor Who fans was the fact that the series also contained some new material that "framed" the reprints. The final frames of the twelfth and final issue showed that Seventh Doctor was the reason Death's Head inhabited that part of the Marvel multiverse depicted in the Marvel UK Transformers series. In other words, the closing frames of The Incomplete Death's Head were actually a prequel to Death's Head's first appearance.
  • Death's Head 3.0 was a 2005 mini-series which added yet a third version of the character to the Marvel universe. Though this is the version of the character probably most familiar to modern US comic fans, there is no clear narrative link between 3.0 and the earlier verisions. However, like all versions of Death's Head, 3.0 was created by Simon Furman.

Additionally, there are several other, minor Marvel US characters known as "Death's Head", but none of these lasted long enough to get a solo title or mini-series. Therefore, the term "Death's Head" as it relates to comics is usually interpreted today as meaning one of the Simon Furman creations.

Stories of interest to Doctor Who fans Edit

The short-lived title contained two stories that utilised characters that, unlike Death's Head himself, had originated in the pages of Doctor Who Magazine.

The Doctor and the Marvel universe Edit

For canon hawks, this series has huge implications for the level of interconnection between the Doctor Who and Marvel universes.

Time Bomb! — which is to say Death's Head #8 — is unambiguously a part of the DWU, particularly as understood on this wiki. It features characters previously introduced in the pages of Doctor Who Magazine, including Josiah W. Dogbolter, his robot assistant Hob and Death's Head himself. Thus it's fairly easy to see the issue as consistent with the DWM strips. How, then, should Doctor Who fans deal with the rest of the series? The truth is that Death's Head is a bit of a quagmire.

Here's a series of progressively more difficult questions that Death's Head (1988) poses for Doctor Who fans, starting with the most obvious and innocent:

  1. Are the other issues a part of the DWU, too, even though they don't feature the Doctor?
  2. Since Time Bomb! ends on a cliffhanger, doesn't that naturally mean that at least issue #9 is also in the DWU? If so, that makes the Fantastic Four a part of the DWU. And since issue #9 also ends on a cliffhanger, then that makes #10 a part of the DWU, too. Since the guest of issue #10 is Iron Man, doesn't that make him a part of the DWU, too?
  3. If Iron Man and the Invisible Woman and Johnny Storm are a part of the DWU, then does that mean that their entire back catalogue, going all the way to the first Fantastic Four issue are a part of the DWU?
  4. Since the Death's Head from this series occasionally guest starred in Marvel US comics — which is to say comics set in the prime Marvel universe, doesn't that, by extension, mean that the DWU is generally a part of the Marvel universe?

All of these are questions with no ready answer, because the idea of the Doctor crossing over into the Marvel universe is largely confined to the pages of Death's Head and Death's Head alone. This disused corner of both the DWU and the MU has simply been ignored by comic theorists and Doctor Who "experts" alike — almost certainly because the notion has no possibility of success from a financial and legal standpoint alone. Nevertheless, Death's Head does narratively allow for the possibility that the Doctor could have been S.H.I.E.L.D.'s scientific advisor, or that Captain Jack might have fought alongside Captain America in World War II.

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