When the Cybermen arrive on Goth, desolate homeworld of the once mighty Deathsmiths of Goth, they want only to find weapons to make them the mightiest force in the galaxy. But Goth is not quite the dead world they expected, and something evil and unstoppable lurks nearby, something with the power to drive the Cybermen mad with nightmares and visions, and reduce their metal skins to rust. As Commander Maxel’s forces dwindle, he must face the unknown horror and stop it once and for all.
Our adaptation of the classic Doctor Who Weekly backup comic strip Black Legacy was released in 2006.
Alan Moore (writer of Black Legacy, amongst many other things) writes:
First, let me say how much I enjoyed Black Legacy. It is not only the first screen adaptation of my work that I've actually watched more that the first five minutes of before being overcome with rage and disgust, it is the only screen adaptation of my work that I've enjoyed from start to finish and can say I thoroughly approve of. This is clearly a work that is born out of nothing save for a simple love of the material. It has not opted to change elements of the story, give it a less bleak ending or introduce a love interest and cute pet dog for the chief Cyberman protagonist. You have simply adapted the story as faithfully as you were able, without feeling the need to 'improve' it, and the very fact that this approach is almost unique in my experience speaks volumes for the state of contemporary culture.
I can't actually remember whether Black Legacy was my first written or first published story as a comic writer, but it was certainly one of the first two stories that I did. It was the first time I'd worked with David Lloyd and the first time I'd tried to add specific atmospherics to a story that weren't an essential part of the plot... the inclusion of artist Franz Kupka's Black Colossus, for example, which I should point out was a good ten years before Francis Ford Coppola made it the centrepiece of his adaptation of Stoker's Dracula. I should probably also point out that when I named the planet of the Deathsmiths 'Goth', this was some few years before an eponymous youth cult would arise that chose to dress and deport themselves pretty much like the Deathsmiths' ultimate weapon does in this clearly influential story. Coincidence? I think not.
So, bravo for a splendid job, and my congratulations to everyone involved with the project. The music, animation and voice acting were all perfectly in service to the narrative and conveyed the atmosphere of doom and corruption every bit as well as (if not much, much better than) my original fledgling story, written before I had much of a grasp on my craft and was simply trying to learn the ropes and live up to all the excellent Abslom Daak and Star Tigers material than Steve had already made his mark with in the Dr. Who Weekly back-up slot. It does my heart good to know that there are film makers and enthusiasts out there who clearly have a passion for these fondly remembered old yarns and are trying to do their best by them without regard for profit or personal glory. You are an example to your times and to your chosen field of interest, and I salute you.
Yours, a very impressed and grateful Alan Moore.
Ross Porter writes:
I received my copy of Black Legacy a few hours ago and I cannot keep my eyes off of it!
The disturbing scene of Loktar’s death sent chills into every part of my body.
I found it a little difficult to understand what the Apocalypse Device said during its confrontation with Maxel, but I understood the few little bits.
It was worth the week’s wait.
I hope there will be more Cyberman productions to come during the course of 2007.
I also hope they will be as creepy as Black Legacy.
John and David Anderson write:
Just a short note to say that we received a copy of the latest production.
Once again you have excelled yourself in high standards in production and content.
Roger Smith (AKA Black Dalek) writes:
What can you say? Stuart has excelled himself again, this time with the Cybermen. Black Legacy is a nice twist on Tomb of the Cybermen.
We get three things this time:
1. The main feature Black Legacy
2. Cyber-Image (A Cyber history in comics)
3. Video footage of a Doctor Who event at Wookey Hole 2005.
Right, main feature Black Legacy:
From the opening bars of the title music I was drawn in; an excellent choice as it is one of my all time favourite pieces of music. It is as good here as it is in Excalibur.
The pace of the story is very good. The Cybermen look great, a little bit like from Revenge of the Cybermen. The atmosphere is dark and foreboding and when I first saw the Ultimate weapon I could not help thinking of the decaying Master crossed with a vampire. It was very good.
Last of all, it was topped off with the entrance of the Sontarans. I had forgotten how it ended. I knew someone else came but not who, and they looked fantastic. Please say there is a comic strip out there that is worth you doing, it would be such a waste if we do not see them again.
I give it a 9.99999999/10 (No Daleks!)
Cyber-image is well worth a look. Very interesting in that I did not know just how many comic strips the Mk1 Cybermen were in and some of the stories are well worth digging out if you get the chance. If you ever get someone to do a Pat Troughton voice please think about one of these... after a Troughton Dalek strip of course.
Then we have the very interesting Wookey Hole 2005 video. I must admit I was there on the Sunday but I did not take my recorder with me. Pity, but I did enjoy seeing it again and my daughter is looking to see if she is in the background. So many thanks, Steve, it was great to see the Dalek Builder Guild doing their stuff.
Over all a great addition to the growing Altered Vistas range. Nice one, Stuart.
PS. Well, I let me daughter see it last night and she had us in bits: "Cybermen, nice ass!" Well, you’re a hit with her, Stuart!
Robert Marsden writes:
First let me say a big thanks to Steve Swales for a very fast turnaround - I received it on a Saturday so could watch it right away.
I read this story first time around in Doctor Who Weekly but had completely forgotten it - but as soon as the atmospheric music kicked in and we got our first glimpse of the nicely animated Cybermen, it all came flooding back. To me, the whole thing was very true to the comic strip and, having recently watched the professionally done animated re-con of The Invasion, I think the Cybermen in Black Legacy stand up very well!
Some of the sound was a little patchy - the Apocalypse Device's voice was quite muffled - but that did not detract from the story at all. It was perfectly clear that whatever the hellish creature was saying, it was not good news for the Cybermen!
Keep doing it, Stuart, keep doing it!
Thomas Tyrrell writes:
Given the period in which this story is written, and the fact that emotionless robots have to drive an entire comic strip, I was expecting a story full of weepy Cybermen blubbing to each other about their emotional problems. Nor was I disappointed!
Cyberleader Jnr. has a bad dream and goes to talk it over with Cyberleader Maxel, the Cybermedic has an argument over professional ethics and the Hippocratic oath with Maxel, and there’s a whole bunch of loony, paranoid Cybermen running about shouting things like “Death is coming for us!”
Oh, and there’s that wonderful contradiction where Cyberleader Maxel insists that Cybermen do not dream, and five minutes later describes the weapons museum as more than we ever dreamed of. D’oh!
Despite this, the plot’s quite chilling. It is unsettling to have a bunch of supposedly emotionless Cybermen running around in fear and paranoia, though it could have been put to a better use had the Cybermen been emotionless at first, before being infected with feelings as the plot progresses. The open hatch where the Doomsday Weapon was stored was very ominous, as were the torn apart spaceships. And when the Weapon is finally unveiled, it looks genuinely horrible – great animation there, Stuart.
Actually, there’s great animation throughout. I love the moody black and purple skies of Goth, and the Cybermen look very real, the slightly robotic CGI walk finally making sense. And that zoom in on the deactivated Cyberman’s eye that leads onto the dream sequence showed real flair.
I have to disagree with another reviewer though – I thought the Sontarans were a bit too baby faced – they needed bigger mouths. And the complexion wasn’t quite right either, but a good start, and a real crowd pleaser.
Finally, on to the voice acting. Being moderately deaf, I looked towards to this production with a slight sense of dread as well as anticipation, wondering if the Cybermen would be as unintelligible as those in Tomb. Thankfully, they’re entirely coherent – I didn’t miss a word – without sounding too human.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the Doomsday Weapon, where I literally cannot make out a word he says. It’s a shame because I’ve got a feeling he’s giving out some interesting background detail. It’s the same problem with the core in The Amaryll Challenge – a heavily modulated voice that speaks too slowly. Please get a different actor next time?
The Sontarans were also understandable, but didn’t really sound like they did in the original series – I think it’s a matter of voice rather than modulation.
Overall I enjoyed this production. The Cybermen will always be Doctor Who’s number two monsters, but this made very good use of them in an interesting setting. Doesn’t do much for showing them as emotionless monsters, though…
Keith Baldock-Grimes writes:
Just wanted to say another big ‘thank you’ for the time and effort which has obviously gone into these two latest releases. Much as I love the Chronicles I was also keen to see what Stuart had done with old favourite Daak and my all-time second favourite the Cybermen.
As I've said before, I don't feel qualified to comment on the technical aspects of the discs but as a long-time, and in my view, discerning Dalek and Doctor Who fan I think they're superb. I thought that the main features of both discs captured the ‘feel’ of the strips perfectly and, in particular, Black Legacy had a wonderfully sinister air to it. It was a nail-biting moment when Commander Maxell flees to his ship and what he thinks is sanctuary.
Not only do we get the main features but the extras are fascinating too. Not only are they interesting in a factual way but to a nostalgia fiend like me they are manna from heaven with all those glimpses of comic strip illustrations.
Finally (almost), I also feel I have to comment on the DVD covers and now labels which are so kindly produced for us. They are the icing on the cake for those of us who love to admire our collection on the shelf. Finally, thank you for such a quick and efficient dubbing service. This was the first time I had sent anything to Steve who returned my discs in the lightning fashion we have become used to and even replaced one of mine which was faulty and which I had inadvertently sent. There are quite a few major suppliers who could learn a thing about service from Altered Vistas who aren't even paid for the service they provide!
Please keep up the good work - it is much appreciated. I look forward to further Chronicles and any other projects which you have planned. On a serious note it is work like that done by Altered Vistas that has helped keep the Daleks and Doctor Who alive in the minds of both fans and the public in the years when the good Doctor was not perhaps as ‘cool’ as he is at the moment.
Thanks again - good job well done!
Jerry Pappin writes:
Hello one and all. I’ve just watched a cracking good VCD and that is the Cyberman epic Black Legacy, and is it any good??? Well, do bears poo in woods? Apparently yes. My god, it’s so good, an epic masterpiece with Cybermen, and I say more Cybermen please as they kicked ass big time, and as wicked as the Daleks are (well that’s my opinion. Ha! Well, you get the point...) Anyway, I’m waffling again. Sorry.
Stuart Palmer has created a wicked and fantastic classic here, people. This is brilliant. You need to see this even if there’s anyone who doesn’t like Cybermen (as if). Please order this - you wont be disappointed, I promise. It even has a cracking twist ending with some potato-headed freaks. Great stuff... The music is wicked. Thank you Empire 639 - you’re tiptop in my book, and a big thank you to Steve Swales for being so fast and on the ball. Very good. Thank you very much. So, in a nutshell, thank you very much, Stuart, for giving the Who universe so much pleasure. Cool of you.
PS. After seeing this awesome Cyberman story... will there be any more? (The Flood? That'd be epic and brilliant). Take care and thank you to everyone who had anything to do with this one...
Alan Mackenzie writes:
Many thanks for the disc of Black Legacy, safely received.
Black Legacy itself is just excellent. The animation of the Cybermen is superb; similar techniques presumably, will be applied to humanoid movement in future Chronicles and other productions. The story itself was also quite interesting. I had never read the comic-strip original, so was all new to me. I must say, for all Maxel's comments about the Cybermen having left their emotions behind them, in this story at least, they often seemed almost human. This is especially apparent when the CyberMedic is remonstrating with Maxel about the folly of remaining on Goth. Maxel also comes over as a pretty poor leader - so obsessed with one blinkered vision it blinds him to all other considerations... very human, that!
If there is any criticism at all, I would say it is that the speech of the Apocalypse creature is very hard to understand. If it were less echoing, I feel it might be better. However, a small problem in an otherwise brilliant effort.
Richard Dadd writes:
Black Legacy is a really odd comic strip. Before I give the deserved praise to Stuart’s work, I have to stress that the original source material is the cause for my criticism. While the Daleks of The Dalek Chronicles very often spout uncharacteristic (for TV Daleks) dialogue, somehow they still feel like Daleks. But there is not a single Cyberman to be found in this story. This is instead the story of a troop of camp silver explorers (with names, and jobs like being a Translator, as well as using expressions like “blood of my ancestors!”) You would think the writer had never seen a Cyberman story, were it not for the fact that the Cybermen state at one point that they have no emotions - but then go on to contradict this idea in line after line of dialogue.
However, after my initial disappointment, I have to admit that this story does have in its favour a formidable villain (rendered into spooky zombie-tastic CGI glory by Stuart), and a distinctively haunting atmosphere. I just wish that the ‘heroes’ of the piece didn’t look like (and call themselves) Cybermen. I think this release’s strongest point is its sound design. Use of music is great, and the howling wind and sound effects really add to the atmosphere. There are some great visual moments as well though. The most attractive visual scene is definitely the 3 Cybermen silhouetted in the door of the museum, which I think looks top. Stuart’s Cybs look best in darkness (often true of baddies in horror stories like this), so I’m afraid in the brighter scenes they suffer from having too humanoid bodies (which makes them seem even camper still, especially when you can see their pert silver bottoms!)
A few other visual elements I enjoyed included the cracked head of the Cyberman, revealing his brain inside, and the mushroom cloud explosion at the end, which was by far the best explosion effect I’ve seen in an AV production.
An unexpected appearance from some other old foes at the story’s conclusion took me by surprise, but I was disappointed that they looked nothing like any of their TV counterparts. This is a shame, but an understandable one, given how difficult modelling such a creature must be.
All in all a diverting curiosity of a production. Not one of my favourites, but as I say this is down to reservations I have with the original strip.
I enjoyed the special features on this disc: a history of the Cybermen in comics happily rolls over your screen for a while, before the edited highlights of a 2005 fan event at Wookie Hole. This is enjoyable to watch, even to someone who wasn’t there. The Dalek shenanigans captured on camera will bring a smile to all, and we even get some snippets of Colin Baker, Nick Courtney and others for good measure. A nice inclusion to cap off a fun disc.
Alan Boyd writes:
Featuring not the Daleks but the Cybermen this time, Black Legacy delivered another sterling effort from Altered Vistas. It had moments of genuine brillance and generally I enjoyed it very much.
Unfortunately my own poor choices in the TV programmes that I watch backfired on me (The X Factor) during the opening seconds but I soon got over that one.
Finally, I too couldn't understand a word the creature was saying - as others have said before me.
All in all, keep up the good work, Stuart - well done! ( But I still prefer the Daleks!)
This was an entertaining exercise in producing a Cyberman story with the Cyber race taking centre stage.
I have read some critisism that they do not act and speak as they should, but I could not see how they could carry the story as two-dimensional ranting characters. This also seems to me as though they were only just coming to terms with their fleshless state, so their still almost human reactions still seem legitimate.
The dark forboding surroundings and atmosphere gave the story marvelous tension with the main villain being a wonderfully unforgettable foil
The visual interpretation by Stuart has as much to do with the enjoyment of this production as the source material itself, with a lot of hard work, free time, and imagination, by all involved, not forgetting the enthusiastic and involving cast, and a nice explosive ending.
GOOD WORK ALL.
Looking forward as usual to the next works available.
Tim Balchin writes:
Black Legacy is my first ever animation by Stuart Palmer and I have to say right off the bat it's utterly brilliant.
I fully intended to watch the Dalek chronicles episode 1 as my introduction to Stuart's work but In the Altered Vistas’ theatre there are trailers to some of the productions and Black Legacy's just jumped out at me as something different.
Black Legacy is a horror story and it's up there with the best of them. I was 10 when I first read the comic strip that this feature is based on and I remember it being somewhat disturbing but through his use of sound and palette choice Stuart has added a completely new dimension to this classic story.
The saga of Poor Cyberleader Maxel's doomed expedition is portrayed excellently and you really feel for the guy as his men are slowly picked off yet in typical cybersmugness he's just too overconfident to admit he has a problem that needs to be addressed.
Obviously Stuart is helped by the fact that the story was originally penned by the awesome Alan Moore yet on reading the story again after watching the animation I am amazed to find that the original strip is only 8 pages long yet the production is over 25 minutes long. This is a major credit to Stuart because the filler material he has fleshed the story out with has built on and enhanced the original script rather than just stretch the story out into some kind of yawn fest as I'm sure could have quite easily happened in the hands of someone less capable.
Ok the animation and choice of angles overall was excellent, I must admit I thought at first the Cybermen’s walk looked a bit odd yet later on when they run it looked pretty real to me.
The sound effects with the howling wind and the music was nothing short of amazing, I don't know where you got that sound effect from but it is eerie as hell and I honestly think 60% of the scary factor comes from that one noise alone. If I have nightmares tonight I'm sure that sound will be in there somewhere LOL
Voice acting - superb, the Cybermen sound like Cybermen should sound like, I had a bit of a problem hearing what the Apocalypse weapon was saying but I'm going to watch it again tomorrow and keep replaying it's bits until I understand every word.
Overall I was very impressed with this story, I'm not going to give it a rating because that rating would be so high that if I watch another one tomorrow and it's even better than Black Legacy I'll have nowhere to go :-)
Special features :-
The Cyberman comic strip was a pretty much run-of-the-mill feature and is really just an animated version of the "in the comics" section on the Altered Vistas website (music was cool again though).
The Wookey Hole feature now that was something else and very enjoyable to watch. It showed some footage of interviews with Colin Baker and a few shots of props from the original series but the most enjoyable part was footage of some Daleks running around and interacting with the convention-goers which I thought was fascinating and very funny.
Kudos to Stuart for including this footage on the disk and if there is any more of this material I implore him to put more on a future disk if he hasn't already.
My final word is if you are new to this site (as I was just 1 week ago) and you have not seen any of Stuart’s animations yet then I strongly recommend getting and watching this one first -you can't go wrong with this story.