Marvel's Ultimate Doctor Who Reference

You guys know how much I love Doctor Who. And you also know I love comic books. So to find out now, in the year that never was, that Marvel had a Doctor Who reference I didn't know about...I knew I had to take my 903rd sanity break and read up on everything there is to know about the Weird Happenings Organization.

Who, you ask? Exactly.

Not to be confused with that real-world organization with the selfsame acronym, the Weird Happenings Organization or W.H.O. was a British paramilitary group tasked to investigate and handle the supernatural and superhuman. The leaders of the group are the brother and sister team of Alistaire and Alysande Stuart, with the latter having the official title of "Brigadier".

Where have I heard that before?

A Brigadier Stuart leading a British crack team of soldiers to handle strange shit? Yeah, this is basically U.N.I.T. from Doctor Who!

They even shop in the same military surplus!

Created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis, the Weird Happenings Organization first appeared in Excalibur vol.1 #6 during the Inferno crossover storyline. I don't know if Mr. Claremont is a Whovian, but the homage to U.N.I.T. is just too lovingly done.

Hey they even put the running joke in, but with a twist!

After giving that Inferno business the good ol' five rounds rapid, W.H.O. would go on to become supporting characters in Excalibur, and were often featured in stories in the Marvel U.K. imprint The Knights of Pendragon, possibly because using S.H.I.E.L.D. might incur heavy royalty fees.

Ten just wasn't the same after Rose left.

Speaking of Inferno, W.H.O. also existed in an alternate timeline just like in the Third Doctor serial Inferno! Funnily enough, in this alternate universe W.H.O. is under the command of Brigadier Alistaire Stuart, with his sister Alysande becoming the doctor! I'd ask what BBC thought of this on-the-nose tidbit, but then I remember Marvel published the Doctor Who comic books as well during the 80's.

No eyepatch, though.

The group would appear sporadically in comics from Uncanny X-Men to Sensational She-Hulk, but always when Excalibur is involved. And just like Doctor Who, they had their own "question mark motif" going on for a while too.

Seven would be proud.

Unfortunately, Brigadier Alysande Stuart would meet her end in the pages of Excalibur vol.1 #55, where she crossed paths with Jamie Braddock, the mad brother of Captain Britain and Psylocke, resulting in her extraordinarily grisly demise.

Not nice.

I can only assume that the Weird Happenings Organization has either been disbanded or absorbed into the chain of command since then, as the only remnant of W.H.O. still kicking around is Doctor Alistaire Stuart. He was last seen as recently as 2009's Captain Britain and the MI:13, where he went on crazy adventures that would make a Time Lord blush. Coincidentally, Captain Britain and the MI:13 was written by prolific Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell, who was responsible for the coldest comeuppances of villains I've seen!

You know, I've had dreams just like this.

As W.H.O.'s first appearance is cover dated March 1989, this means that Doctor Who was still airing during that time! However, it would also be the last year of the show's Classic series, to be canceled due to steadily declining ratings. The last Classic Who episode, Survival: Part Three, aired on December of 1989. That same month, Marvel would publish Excalibur: Mojo Rising, a one-shot special with an appearance from the Weird Happenings Organization, as if saying goodbye to an old friend.

U.N.I.T. W.H.O. saves the day again!

Talk about warming my fragile human heart...two of my favorite things in one! The concept was cool, and I don't see why they can't roll with S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D. and Marvel's other assemblages of acronyms. Will W.H.O. return in the pages of Marvel? Who knows?

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