One of the most startling things about last Saturday's episode of Doctor Who was the brief glimpse of a certain Dalek-fighting badass with a chainsaw sword, in a montage of galactic criminals. But just who is Abslom Daak? And why is his appearance on the television show such a big deal?
Well, first and foremost, Abslom Daak is apparently the first character to be created for the comics and then featured (however briefly) on television. (Which means we're still waiting for our Frobisher the Shapeshifting Penguin cameo.)
But also, he's an incredibly cool character, and now we can start speculating about which actor could play him in live action. So who is he?
Image: Mike Collins
He's very much a Snake Plissken-style rogue, an antihero who is awesome because he fights monsters worse than himself. If you were reading Doctor Who Weekly/Monthly/Magazine back in the day, you probably have an instant fondness for Daak, who ran in the backup comic strips all too occasionally.
In his first appearance, Daak is introduced as a criminal who's committed every crime in the galaxy, including some too terrible to mention. He's offered a choice between immediate vaporization and getting sent out as a Dalek-killer, and he chooses the latter, packing his trusty chainsword.
Daak gets sent to a planet that's basically been conquered by the Daleks, and singlehandedly takes out pretty much all of them. He inspires the daughter of the planet's ruler, Princess Tayan, to join his fight, and she falls in love with the amoral rogue... only to die, because one last Dalek survived.
Daak actually puts Tayan into suspended animation, hoping to find a way to bring her back to life.
And then it's a while before we see him again — and when we do, he's not fighting Daleks. He's getting involved with a group of other rogues, including an Ice Warrior enforcer named Harma and a disgraced Draconian named Prince Salander. Salander is frustrated because of all the court intrigue and corruption in the Draconian empire... he can never get the Emperor's ear. So his new friend Daak gets him the Emperor's ear... wrapped in a handkerchief and still sticky with the Emperor's blood. That's friendship for you!
Daak, Salander, Harma and Mercurius become a crew known as the Star Tigers. They're basically the Guardians of the Galaxy of the Doctor Who universe, only all dudes.
Amazingly, it took years until Daak actually meets the Doctor, in a story called "Nemesis of the Daleks." And the Daleks are building a weapon called the Death Wheel, and they capture the Seventh Doctor and take him to meet their Emperor. The Doctor is totally ready to sacrifice his life, but Daak won't let him — instead, Daak crashes his ship into the middle of the Death Wheel.
Then, in a fourth comics story, "Emperor of the Daleks," the Daleks themselves rescue Daak a second before he blows himself up crashing into the Death Wheel. They try to trick him with the promise of saving Tayan's life, and wind up turning him into a weapon against the Doctor - but the Doctor, of course, turns the tables.
Daak has also made some brief appearances in other comics, and a few mentions in the New Adventures tie-in novels and other prose works. There's a complete bibilography here.
So... who would you want to play Daak on television?