Friday, October 14, 2011

"Earthshock" Cyberleader

Here's a vector drawing of the Cyberleader from the 1982 Doctor Who episode Earthshock (A.K.A. the one where Adric dies). You can tell he's the leader by the black "handlebars" on his head. Normal Cybermen had plain silver handlebars.

This was the first time this particular version of the Cybermen appeared. It was a lot busier and more complicated than previous versions, and lacked the trademark "tear drops" at the corner of the eyes that most other models had. Unlike the older versions that had somewhat bemused expressions, this model seemed to be frowning. It also featured a clear plastic "jaw" section, so that you could dimly glimpse the moving mouth of the being within.

The Cybermen from the classic series were originally a race of humanoids from the planet Mondas, a twin planet of the Earth (I guess that means Mondas occupied Earth's orbit, but on the opposite side?). At some point Mondas drifted out of our solar system, out into the icy depths of space. To survive, the Mondasians began replacing their organs with mechanical versions until they were more machine than man. Many of these Cybermen left Mondas and ventured into space, forming various factions.

The Mondasian Cybermen had one major weakness: gold. It clogged their respiratory systems and caused them to suffocate.

The new series features a different strain of Cybermen from a parallel world. They were created by billionaire industrialist John Lumic, who planned to use them to replace his failing body. That plan failed as the Lumic Cybermen began assimilating other humans into their ranks, much like Star Trek's Borg.

The look of the Cybermen changed drastically over the years, as they continually upgraded their technology (and the BBC's budget increased!). The original Cybermen, first seen in the episode The Tenth Planet, were fairly primitive. They were wrapped mummy-like in bandages with various mechanical bits tacked on. When they spoke, their mouths gaped open and an emotionless mechanical voice issued forth, their lips remaining motionless. It was truly a disturbing and nightmarish effect. They appeared to still possess organic, human hands as well.

I've always liked the Cybermen, better even than the Daleks (blasphemous, I know). I feel like they never really got their due in the classic series, always playing Riddler to the Dalek's Joker. That may be because they were basically the same idea. Daleks = organic lifeforms mutated by radiation, who encased themselves in robotic suits. Cybermen = organic lifeforms who replaced their organic parts with robotic duplicates. Pretty much the same deal.

Another possible reason why the Cybermen always played second fiddle to the Daleks: Lack of a clear agenda. The Daleks have a singular goal: to EX-TER-MI-NATE anything that isn't a Dalek. The classic Cybermen? Well, they... that is to say... um... they don't like the Doctor, and want to see him dead, so there's that. What else? Uh... maybe they don't like Earth? See what I mean? They needed a simple, clear cut goal to aim for.

The Cybermen were always described as emotionless, but most of the time they never really appeared so onscreen. The Cyberleader in Earthshock seems exceptionally emotional. He seeks revenge on the Doctor, taunts him, gloats.... if he had a cybernetic mustache he'd be twirling it.

This version of the Cybermen continued to appear (with a few minor variations) through the end of the classic series.

This is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign.

Sorry, no sketch this time. I pretty much just drew him right on the screen.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks! There've been about 5 or 6 different versions of the Cybermen on the show over the years. Eventually I plan to draw them all.

    ReplyDelete

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