Funhouse is a whole lot of fun, with prizes to be won. It's a real crazy show where anything'll go.
The same is true of the Doctor Who story of the same name. The Doctor will have to use his body and his brain if he wants to play the game and escape from the monster that takes the shape of a mysterious house and wants to nom the TARDIS's energy.
The TARDIS is pulled off course, which the Doctor describes as
"Curious. Very curious."even though it happens to him a lot. When he and Frobisher leave the TARDIS to investigate the house, they look out the window and see different things outside - Frobisher a tropical paradise, the Doctor a "horrible" wasteland - so the Doctor concludes it is "an illusion of some kind."
As they continue to investigate, one panel per page is given over to the thoughts of the housemonster as it sends its tentacles out to the TARDIS, and it needs to keep them inside itself long enough to have its noms, so it fills the house full of weird goings-on to keep the Doctor intrigued.
One of these takes the shape of Peri, making this her first appearance in the comics... sort of. When the Doctor rescues her she turns into a dragon for no reason and then disappears, all of which is enough to persuade the Doctor and Frobisher that they should leave, having had enough of the house's shit.
But the housemonster confuses them with illogical geography and illusionary mannys, including a sideways room and then a room with only one door.
This is all good fun stuff - it's a quiz, it's a race, it's a real wacky place, even if it does somewhat resemble the scenes set in the Matrix in The Deadly Assassin or Trial of a Time Lord (the latter of which hadn't yet been made when this story was written).
The Doctor can feel the TARDIS is under attack, and then Frobisher drops the title when he says
"Y'know, I've been thinking. This place is like some kind of crazy fairground funhouse, leadin' us by the nose since we arrived."Clang!
Neither of them find a way to overcome the housemonster's illusions, which only cease to bother them when it gains control over the TARDIS and so doesn't need to distract our heroes any longer. They run back to the TARDIS only to hear the "Vworp! Vworp!" of it taking off, but instead of leaving them behind, the Doctor exclaims,
"It's not the TARDIS that's taken off, it's the whole house. And us along with it!
This is the halfway point in the story. Part 2 picks up with the Doctor and Frobisher getting inside the TARDIS and trying to begin their fight back. The Doctor's first plan is to attack it with an axe. This fails when the monster simply takes the axe off of him with its tentacles.
The Doctor thinks about what the house really is and what it wants, and he concludes:
"My guess is that it's a living entity, feeding on fear, emotion as raw energy. The more we feed it, the stronger it becomes."They try to take a look at it using the scanner.
The mention of tentacles had already piqued his interest, but now Cthulhu is convinced that the housemonster is one of his Great Old Friends.
The Doctor comes up with another plan - one a bit more cerebral than his "hit it with an axe" plan from earlier: he rigs up a bit of string to the console - and he and Frobisher spend a couple of pages on setting it up before he tells Frobisher (and us by proxy, of course) what the plan is.
"We'll be protected from the worst of the temporal regression in here. When I pull this string, it'll disengage the circuit that protects the TARDIS passengers from the changing time field outside. You follow?"I'm sure Frobisher speaks for us all there, mew.
"Er, well... no!"
"It's simple. Everything outside this room will regress in time at the same speed as the TARDIS -- including the house. It should "forget" what it's doing because it will have moved back to before it encountered us."
I don't know, that sounds a bit made up to me. But then the whole premise of Funhouse is that it's wacky, crazy and outrageous, so I suppose we have to let them off with that.
It turns out this plan is an excuse for some gratuitous past-Doctor cameos, as, when he runs back to the control room to dematerialise the TARDIS and free them from the house, the Doctor is regressed back through his previous five incarnations (and their costumes), and Frobisher is regressed to being a tiny baby Whifferdill - d'aww, so cute!
The plan works, and the house is
"Trapped in the time vortex. And since it has no materialisation circuits of its own, it'll stay there. Forever."This appears to be confirmed by a four-panel "Epilogue" that shows the house patiently waiting for more noms to come to it.
Funhouse is not a bad little story, although a lot of its ideas have been done better elsewhere. It is saved from mediocrity by the unusual (although not unprecedented) decision to repeatedly show us the thoughts and point of view of the housemonster.
It reminded me of two other Doctor Who monsters - the first being Voorvolika from The Armageddon Chrysalis, a more malevolent monster than the house, but also one whose point of view part of the story was told from. The other was the monster called "House" from the TV episode The Doctor's Wife, who also wanted to nom the TARDIS. Given that, and its name, plus the illusions it could create, it could possibly even be the housemonster itself, come back for a sequel.