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The Curious Tale of Spring-Heeled Jack (comic story)

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The Curious Tale of Spring-Heeled Jack
Doctor: Eighth Doctor
Main enemy: Morjanus, Pyrodines
Main setting: London, 1840; Covent Garden; Lambeth
Key crew
Publisher: Panini Comics
Editor: Clayton Hickman
Writer: Scott Gray
Artist: Anthony Williams
Colourist: Adrian Salmon
Letterer: Roger Langridge
Release details
Printed in: Doctor Who Magazine 334 - 336
Release date: 17th September - 12th November 2003
Format: Comic - 3 parts
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The Curious Tale of Spring-Heeled Jack was a Doctor Who Magazine comic strip. It was the last to feature the Doctor travelling alone until Hotel Historia in 2008. This story saw the Doctor Who universe address the myth of Spring-heeled Jack, making him an alien figure.

The tale originally involved penny dreadfuls, a type of fiction commonly seen as the precursor to comics. After watching a DVD commentary of the show Angel, Scott Gray took note of a commentator who suggested removing the thing you like the most from a story to make it work. After discarding the penny dreadfuls, Gray found the story worked better. He also set it in the 1840s as gaslights were being introduced in London at that time and offered a back story.

Some character changes were also made. A character named Molly became Penny Chapman and the ending was rewritten so that Jack did not die. In an overview of this comic published in The Flood graphic novel, Gray noted Penny had all the appropriate companion attributes: pretty, brave, had been in the TARDIS, but decided that Destrii was a better fit.

Summary Edit

In London, a demonic figure is searching young ladies on his quest for Morjanus. The Eighth Doctor is also there, trying to enjoy London's new night life, thriving with the invention of the gaslight. Something is hidden in London and the Doctor must find it before the city is consumed in fire...

Plot Edit

Part one Edit

London, 1840: the Eighth Doctor is unable to see Les Huguenots and decides to wander instead. He bumps into Penny Chapman and finds her in a trance-like state muttering about "the essence". Worried, he tries to care for her. She cries out in her trance. Suspecting him of harassment, those near close in on him but, at that moment, Spring-heeled Jack appears.

The police rush in and Bates fires upon him. He moves to attack Penny but is knocked aside by the Doctor. This stranger's courageous behaviour raises Jack's suspicions and he leaves.

The Doctor and Penny

The Doctor walks Penny home after their encounter with Jack.

Inspector Arnold Porter questions the Doctor who asks him about Jack. It turns out the Jack has been attacking women in London for three years and the police have yet to catch him. Porter asks the Doctor to explain the disturbance before Jack's arrival but Penny vouches for him and they leave.

The Doctor walks her home and promises to call on her tomorrow. As he leaves he considers how he will find Jack, but he does so straight away as he jumps into a nearby carriage. Jack tells the Doctor he can smell that he has come a long way, before unleashing a fiery burst upon the Doctor.

Part two Edit

Jack can see inside the Doctor's mind. He sees the Time Lords and Gallifrey, "a dull grey world he couldn't wait to break"; he see the TARDIS, "a box of delights, it's heart so warm and pure"; and finally, Susan, "a precious little flower, so dear yet so far away". The Doctor forces Jack out of his mind.

The Doctor turns the tables, seeing into Jack's mind. He sees a world aflame with his people dying. Out of her window, Penny sees the fight and grabs a gun, she fires upon Jack scaring him away. The Doctor tells Penny that it wasn't fire, just a psychic conduit. He examines the carriage;s driver, finding him unconscious but still alive. Penny tells the Doctor that she coming with him and they both leave in the carriage.


Penny starts to remember.

Returning to his TARDIS, the Doctor opens a map on the wall and finds anachronistic technology present in the Blackthorne Gasworks, where Penny happens to work. They go there and Penny again falls into a trance. She touches a padlocked door and it opens. Within is a large mechanical-looking object that the Doctor identifies as a proto-morphic lifeform. Suddenly, Penny grips her head and says "I remember, the Pyrodines, they're coming".

On the street, Bates asks the inspector if he can smell something funny. The gaslights rupture and the Pyrodines are released from them.

Part three Edit

The civilians run, as does the inspector, warning Bates to do the same. However, the latter turns to attacks and is killed. In the Blackthorne Gasworks, Penny is still clutching her head. The Doctor tries to care for her, but she tells him she remembers everything, hitting him as she does so. Threatening him with a gun, she forces him onto the roof.

"Penny" tells the Doctor that her real name is Morjanus. He works out that she used self-hypnosis to pretend to be Penny to escape Jack's telepathy. Her people are at war with the Hunters, Jack's species. The Doctor finally realises that she started to wake up as the Pyrodines had fully attached themselves to the gasworks. Morjanus tells him that the Pyrodines will help her people win, being immune to psychic attack.

Jack attacks

Jack attacks Morjanus.

Morjanus moves to shoot him but finds the gun empty, the Doctor removed the ammunition in the TARDIS as he didn't want to walk into the gasworks with the threat of a mind-controlled girl. She sends a Pyrodine to attack him instead but Jack appears and fights it off with his bare hands. Morjanus attacks the Doctor and he throws her from the roof. She manages a foothold and climbs back up, giving chase as she does so.

The Doctor uses a crowbar with the gun ammunition attached to break the casing of the lifeform. As it explodes, the Pyrodines disappear. In a last ditch attack, Morjanus lunges at the Doctor but Jack hits her from behind with his psychic attack and she falls down.

Morjanus awakes and wonders where she is. The Doctor realises it is in fact Penny, with Morjanus' mind wiped by Jack. The Doctor thanks Jack and offers him a lift home but he declines. With no home left, he wants to stay where he is needed. The Doctor advises Penny to move to the country, telling her London is a very dangerous place, even with its own guardian demon.

Characters Edit

References Edit

Foods and beverages from the real world Edit

Entertainment Edit

London locations Edit

Notes Edit

  • This comic story was re-released in The Flood graphic novel.
  • This is the last DWM comic story in which the Doctor is shown having an adventure without a companion until the Tenth Doctor story Hotel Historia in 2008.

Continuity Edit

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