Mancopolis (comic story)

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Mancopolis Gallery Talk
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You may be looking for the titular city.

Mancopolis was the two hundredth and eighth comic strip published in Doctor Who Magazine, beginning on 4 January 2024[1] by Panini Magazines and written by Alan Barnes.

It marked the comic strip debuts of the Fifteenth Doctor and Ruby Sunday, depicting an unspecified point in their travels.

It was notably the first story in any medium to depict Ruby taking a trip in the TARDIS, predating any such trip in televised media.

Plot[[edit]]

Part One: Mancopolis[[edit]]

08:30 am in the city of the north, and in a futuristic high-rise building, a bespectacled man named Gerry pleads with his boss, Mayor Mary Mulberry, to be honest with the public about the collapsing economy. She deflects him, claiming that the early meeting has made him difficult, despite her claiming it to be a breakfast meeting. Upon his admission that he has been in contact with Galactic Central Exchange to send the auditors in on her, Mulberry admits that her Internal Affairs team has intercepted his call and informed her. No longer wanting to work with a "snitch", she has him teleported to a dark chamber where he is attacked by wet, fanged creatures, informing Gerry over their watches that he is the breakfast.

An hour and fifteen minutes later, the Fifteenth Doctor and Ruby Sunday arrive in the TARDIS above Jason Orange Plaza. The Doctor proudly shows her their location: her childhood home city of Manchester in 2424, shocking her. He points to all the skyscrapers named after legendary figures from the city's history and a strange cloud, but Ruby instead notices that they have landed upon a tram track. Realising the danger they are in as a futuristic tram hurtles towards them, they dodge it and it stops just in time, but they are immediately surrounded by the Care Fleet vehicle's masked occupants — the Care Force, who accuse them of being tram raiders and order them to surrender. As they do, a baby-faced cloud appears, claiming to be a witness to the Doctor and Ruby having unhappy faces and dares them to try and make the Care Force go away. When they fail to do so, it begins raining on the duo impetuously. Ruby, annoyed, sarcastically states that they are definitely in Manchester.

Part Two: Smile![[edit]]

Across the 500 square miles of gleaming towers, the twenty million residents of what is now known as Mancopolis all head to work at the Salford Textile Zone to the "hymn[s] of Gracie".

Meanwhile, the Doctor tells Ruby to smile, pleasing the cloud, and it stops raining on them. The Doctor explains how the cloud — a weather orb — works to Ruby and she asks Care Force member #07371 if she wears her helmet because she is unable to smile. However, the mayor interrupts her before she can respond by telling her to remove her helmet, communicating via the windows of a nearby tower that doubles as a screen. #07371 reveals her face and name — Zhi — while the mayor continues talking, incorrectly believing the Doctor and Ruby were the auditors from the Galactic Central Exchange, let in by Gerry before his disposal, which the duo goes along with.

The mayor orders Zhi to bring the Doctor and Ruby to Mancopolis City Hall; she transports them in the antigravity Care Fleet vehicle whilst explaining how the mayor had saved the city after the 2399 Event, giving the residents jobs in cotton mills, even though since then vacancies had opened. Ruby is concerned that even though the residents are all smiling on their commute, none are laughing. The shuttle stops outside the window of the mayor's office, through which the duo enter — it is constructed from porous glass.

Mayor Mulberry condemns how the Doctor and Ruby distracted her from the arrival of an assault ship that sneaked into the city, perceiving their actions as a deliberate diversion. She has the ship destroyed, an action that she understands likely caused the deaths of people below in LS Lowry Square but shirks responsibility before offering a negotiation for the city's economy; the duo asks for chairs to sit on before they continue, but the mayor tells them to transform into their natural form, believing them to be shape-shifting non-humans. Ruby asks the Doctor if the mayor thinks they are aliens, which offends her and she transforms into her huge white silkmoth-like true appearance as a Lepidopteran. The mayor deduces that the Doctor and Ruby are imposters, threatening to dismember one of them whilst the other confesses, so the duo flees into the lift... which is actually the mayor's teleporter. They find themselves in a dark space, about to be attacked by seemingly giant silkworms!

Part Three: Sub-Culture[[edit]]

The Doctor acts quickly and stuns the giant silkworms with a sonic pulse from his sonic screwdriver and Ruby uses her phone's torch to get them to safety, climbing out of the knee-high water and realising they are in a canal. However, she soon realises the truth of their surroundings that the Doctor had tried to keep from her: it is the real Manchester, long since left dilapidated and lifeless with a giant concrete roof built as the foundation of Mancopolis overhead.

She admires some of the old buildings but is interrupted as two Lepidopterans arrive, communicating with Mayor Mulberry as they hunt her and the Doctor. Ruby uses her local knowledge to lose them. From her office, the mayor, back in her human form, tells the silkmoths to lure their targets out with the Care Force as she makes a pitch to the real auditors.

Ruby leads the Doctor through the Night-Town to the one place that she knows must still have life — Canal Street — and she is rewarded with discovering a bustling party atmosphere, to the Doctor's joy. He decides to look for some friendly faces and a way back to the surface, so starts mingling with the crowds. However, he is shortly interrupted by some Care Fleet vehicles undertaking a raid, and as the others run away, he tries to get Zhi's attention. Meanwhile, Ruby is accosted by an older woman offering her wristbands to teleport her and the Doctor to safety at a club called the Facility, but when she turns her down, the woman transforms into another silkmoth and forces them on her wrist, snatching Ruby away. The Doctor hears her screams but is too late, only finding her dropped phone left behind.

Ruby finds herself, semi-conscious with her eyes closed and smiling, in a state of bliss inside the Facility. A mysterious noise has caused her to lose control of herself entirely. Meanwhile, Mayor Mulberry begins her auditors' meeting, offering them a business proposition: a new type of Lepidopteran-inspired miracle fabric named Mancopolyester. As she extols its virtues, she explains that it is a form of second skin processed from her new facility, where the "animals" they take it from do not feel a thing as they are boiled alive... and Ruby is the latest to be caught in their cocoons.

Part Four: Power, Corruption & Lies![[edit]]

The Doctor tastes the leftovers of a short-range teleport that took Ruby as Zhi approaches him, offering her help. She explains that she has heard rumours of the Facility from her sisters, so the Doctor gives her a chance to be a rebel and take them down. She dons her Care Force mask and contacts Control, claiming to have arrested the Doctor, and requests to have him brought to where Ruby has been taken.

With the Doctor handcuffed as part of their plan, Zhi drops herself and the Doctor off on a rooftop, but they are quickly set upon by a group of silkmoths who attack Zhi and threaten to cocoon her too. The Doctor quietly slips out of his handcuffs and sonics the Care Fleet vehicle's headlights, proving irresistible to the silkmoths, letting them make their escape into the Facility. Inside, the Doctor discovers a control panel playing trance music that is keeping the trapped people stuck inside their cocoons and switches it off. Realising that "the young and the beautiful" are being stolen from Night-Town for their skin by the mayor due to a space blockade on external materials, he quickly rescues Ruby and begins his plan to stop Mayor Mulberry.

02:45 pm in the city of the north, and Mayor Mulberry receives word that the Salford Textile Zone and the Trafford Zoomthrough are impassible due to tens of thousands of marching workers, striking en masse demanding her resignation. Zhi tells her that the workers have seen her bodycam footage of the skin factories and that she is leading the marchers herself, with help from the Doctor and Ruby who are making impassioned speeches to the crowd. Mulberry, however, refuses to listen, claiming to be the city's saviour, and calls on her weather orbs to disperse the crowd by force. Terrified, Ruby can only watch on as the orbs use lightning bolts to kill dozens of the protestors, begging the Doctor to do something.

Part Five: Supernova in the Sky[[edit]]

To be added

Characters[[edit]]

(In order of appearance)

Referenced only[[edit]]

Worldbuilding[[edit]]

  • Chairs, according to Ruby, are objects of "basic hospitality".
  • The Doctor states to Ruby that the "answer to her question" is that "massive people-eating silkmoths come from massive people-eating silkworms".

Food and drink[[edit]]

  • Gerry was told by Mulberry that they'd have a "breakfast meeting"; she actually intended to feed him to the fanged creatures, having led him to believe that he'd be served something like croissants.
  • Mulberry pours herself a cup of coffee.

Manchester[[edit]]

The Doctor[[edit]]

Individuals[[edit]]

Technology[[edit]]

Notes[[edit]]

  • This was the first Doctor Who Magazine comic story to feature the Fifteenth Doctor, and the first words spoken by him in his tenure as the incumbent incarnation of the DWM range are: "Yeah, this is it. This is what we want!"
  • Similar to Liberation of the Daleks [+]Loading...["Liberation of the Daleks (comic story)"] before it, the story's title is kept entirely secret until the final page of part one, simply being called "Comic strip" on the issue's spine and contents page.
  • Although the story's placement in the Doctor and Ruby's timeline is ambiguous, it is likely shortly after The Church on Ruby Road [+]Loading...["The Church on Ruby Road (TV story)"] as they're still wearing similar clothes to what they wore in that episode.
  • This story — the Fifteenth Doctor's comic debut in DWM — is set four hundred years after its real-world publication in 2424, similarly to how Liberation of the Daleks [+]Loading...["Liberation of the Daleks (comic story)"] — the Fourteenth Doctor's comic debut in DWM — is set three hundred years after its publication in 2323.
  • The Doctor's line in part three, "Never mind the buzz shocks", is a reference to the British comedic music quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
  • Ruby stating to Mayor Mulberry that "Today is gonna be the day that we're gonna throw it back to you!" in part four is a paraphrasing of the opening line to the song "Wonderwall" by the Mancunian band Oasis.
  • The title of part five, Supernova in the Sky, is a reference to the song "Champagne Supernova", also by Oasis.

Production errors[[edit]]

  • In the second frame of Part Two, Zhi's number is given as "#07371" (similar to how all the others in the Care Force have a "0" in their designation), however, for the rest of the time, her number is given as "#7371" (without the "0").

Original print details[[edit]]

(Publication with page count and closing captions)

  • DWM 599: (6 pages): N/A
  • DWM 600: (6 pages): Next Issue: Sub-Culture
  • DWM 601: (6 pages): Next Issue: Power, Corruption & Lies!
  • DWM 602: (6 pages): Next Issue: Supernova in the Sky

Continuity[[edit]]

Footnotes[[edit]]