May 2019 and the main range release is a Seventh Doctor story, The Moons of Vulpana, the second with punk-werewolf Mags (Jessica Martin) on-board the TARDIS. Written by Emma Reeves, it explores the backstory of Mags’s people by taking a trip to her homeworld of Vulpana. Like last month’s Monsters of Gokroth, it’s a very strong story and again I add must watch Greatest Show in the Galaxy to my to-do list.
Moons of Vulpana
For the most part this is about racial purity, resistance to new values, social change and tradition. Let’s just remind ourselves of the synopsis:
The Doctor has returned Mags, formerly of the Psychic Circus, to her native world: Vulpana.
Not the savage Vulpana that Mags was taken from, but Vulpana in an earlier era. The Golden Millennium – when the Four Great Wolf Packs, each devoted to one of the planet’s four moons, oversaw the height of Vulpanan civilisation. A time when the noblest families of the Vulpanan aristocracy found themselves in need of new blood…
A golden age that’s about to come to a violent end!
For once Mags is at home, is important and the centre of attention from many would-be suitors. As before the character has maturity and depth (more excellent work from Jessica Martin) and wrestles with the idea of staying on Vulpana despite its many problems and the sacrifices she may have to make.
Emma Reeves paints a world with what we might regard as a somewhat feudal society, yet one with access to technology and knowledge of the wider galaxy. She populates the story with clear-cut characters, some twists and get the Seventh Doctor at his most infuriating. Like Ace before her, Mags only gets to know the Doctor’s plans after the event, leaving her both frustrated and angry.
It’s a great study of Mags, her drives, her ambition to control her lycanthropy and a well-rounded, convincing character. The story also packs a few surprises in the midst of a set of desperately unlikeable nobles. Whenever we start to find a middle-ground and point of contact with the Vulpanans, Emma finds a new angle to make the listener consider the reverse angle – to what extent can Mags really shake-off her nature, and could she ever be just as (in our terms) morally and ethically wrong as her kin?
As I said up-top this trilogy has caught me by surprise and I must reappraise a story I dismissed back in the 1980s. Until then, I’ll wait for next month’s main range release.