of 8162 AD

Real Name: Unrevealed. See comments.

Identity/Class: Extratemporal (Earth-5555's 8162 A.D.) animal

Occupation: Scavenger. See comments.

Group Membership: None

AffiliationsDeath's Head, Spratt;
    formerly Bahlia, Keepsake, Thea

EnemiesBig Shot

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None. See comments.

Base of Operations: Death's Head's Office, Earth-8410 @ 2020 A.D.;
    formerly Death's Head's Office, Earth-5555 @ 8162 A.D.;
    formerly Keepsake's space craft, mobile throughout Reality-5555

First Appearance: Doctor Who Magazine#140 (September 1988)

Powers/Abilities: The vulture has a beak and claws with which it can inflict damage. It has some skill in this area. It has wings enabling it to fly at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour, top speed. See comments. 

Length: Approximately 2'1" in comparison to the Doctor in his seventh incarnation (approximately 8.2' to 9.8' wingspan)
Weight: Approximately 18-20 lbs.
Eyes: White (no visible iris); formerly solid red with pupil (normally a bird will -- like a mammal -- have a white sclera, a large colored iris, and the dark/black pupil, which is just a whole in the iris...but we'll go with what was shown on panel)
Feathers/Plumage: Black (sometimes brown or grey) with a white (sometimes grey) frill around the neck.

(Doctor Who Magazine#140/Incomplete Death's Head#4/2 (fb) - BTS) - The vulture was taken by Keepsake on his journeys through space collecting salvage.
Keepsake's wife thought the vulture would make an apt traveling companion for him. However, as he told his friends at Huggy's, Keepsake considered it a keepsake, a reminder what real misery was about. In other words, the creature reminded him of his wife.

(Doctor Who Magazine#140/Incomplete Death's Head#5/3 (fb) - BTS) - Keepsake didn't consider the bird as a pet; he had been known to describe the bird as being both untamed and stupid.

(Doctor Who Magazine#140/Incomplete Death's Head#4/2/Incomplete Death's Head#5/3) - The vulture was present as Keepsake's craft landed on the planet Ryos. Keepsake idly commented he must be mad to land there, and the bird squawked as if in agreement. Keepsake retorted, calling the bird a mangy, good-for-nothing freeloader. Shortly afterwards, Keepsake tried to fly away having seen a figure being chased by a large group of the planets natives. That figure, a Gallifreyan renegade known as the Doctor, clung onto the bottom of Keepsake's craft. They landed shortly afterwards, the Doctor's unexpected added weight hindering their flight. The Doctor then talked Keepsake into helping him rescue a medic kidnapped by the natives. Keepsake agreed, but only to avoid the Doctor discovering he was there to hunt for salvage. When the medic turned out to be an attractive lady, Keepsake's attitude softened. The vulture, however, seemed less than impressed.

(Death's Head#5) - Keepsake returned to the Los Angeles Resettlement with the medic, whose name was Bahlia. When his craft's autopilot overshot the city and crashed, nobody was seriously hurt. Indeed, the vulture was completely unharmed and seemed amused at his fellow passengers' misfortune. Keepsake and Bahlia headed through the desert toward civilization, the vulture circling overhead. When they reached the city, they entered Huggy's bar.

(Death's Head#5 - BTS) - They found Colt, an old acquaintance of Keepsake's. Keepsake and Colt had two halves of a map showing the whereabouts of some bullion.

(Death's Head#5) - The vulture took a sip of Colt's drink and rapidly felt the effects of the alcohol, collapsing over the back of Colt's chair.

(Death's Head#5 - BTS) - Meanwhile, Colt took Keepsake's half of the map and held Bahlia prisoner as insurance while searching for the bullion. Death's Head, hired by Keepsake's wife Thea, found Keepsake and interrogated him as to the location of the map. Thea interrupted, having just seen Colt.

(Death's Head#5) - The vulture reappeared from behind the chair where it had fallen. Keepsake berated the bird, who was still tipsy, for not being there when needed.

(Death's Head#5 - BTS) - Death's Head rescued Bahlia and recovered the bullion. As both Keepsake and Thea had promised him half of the bullion, Death's Head left with the lot.

(Death's Head#5) - The vulture chose to abandon Keepsake and followed Death's Head.

(Death's Head#6) - While Death's Head was out the phone rang at the office. The vulture stopped Spratt from answering and picked up the receiver himself.

(Death's Head#7 - BTS) - The vulture stayed at the office while Death's Head and Spratt looked for Photofit.

(Death's Head#9) - The phone rang again, but this time Spratt was ready. He struck the vulture, who landed unceremoniously in a bin. Spratt arranged to meet the mysterious caller at the waterfront by the pier at midnight.

(Strip#15/Body In Question) - The vulture followed Spratt to the pier, as did Big Shot. Both the mysterious caller, Pyra, and Big Shot were hunting Death's Head. Spratt and the vulture tried to escape in Death's Head's ship, but Pyra sent both them and Big Shot through time.

(Death's Head#9 /Strip#16/Body In Question) - Death's Head's ship crashed in New York in Reality-8410's 2020 AD, near where Death's Head himself. The vulture and Spratt left the craft, followed shortly by Big Shot.

(Strip#17/Body In Question) - The vulture watched Big Shot's fight with Death's Head, which was then interrupted by Pyra. Death's Head then disappeared before their eyes.

(Strip#20/Body In Question (fb) - BTS) - Pyra enthralled the vulture and Spratt.

(Strip#20/Body In Question) - Death's Head was transported back by Pyra once he had killed Lupex, as she had planned long ago. The vulture and Spratt stood there motionless as Pyra spoke to Death's Head. Once she was done, she released them before walking away. Death's Head walked away himself, and the vulture followed.

Comments: Created by Simon Furman and John Higgins.

    The vulture is never really given a name, so I've not listed one. It's generally referred to as vulture or various insults (such as fleabag or feather brain), which I don't really consider aliases. Keepsake didn't consider it a pet, and it isn't really a pet to Death's Head or Spratt. To the latter it is more a hindrance. I've listed occupation as scavenger, as that is the role a vulture plays in nature and due to its background with Keepsake, who most definitely IS a scavenger. Keepsake says the bird is a freeloader, suggesting it hangs around for scraps. He also describes it as a worthless buzzard, though this is again more of an insult than an indicator of the bird's breed. And on that note...

    The vulture looks different in some of its appearances, but resembles a California Condor. At times it also resembles an Andean Condor. Considering that it seems to be from the Los Angeles Resettlement, it would make sense if it was some kind of descendent of the California Condor. These birds became extinct in the wild in 1987, but were reintroduced into the wild later. If it is a California Condor, its interest to note that in its first appearance it has a gray skinned head but has developed a red head between #5 and #6 of Death's Head (it's head is already shown as red on the cover to #5, to confuse matters even more). Skin color ranges from gray on young birds to yellow and bright orange on adults, so perhaps there is a good gap between the events of those two issues. Also the skin could be capable of flushing noticeably, a factor linked to the birds emotional state, as this is a trait of Californian Condors. However, it doesn't match the exact description of a California Condor, having a white frill (a California Condor would have a black frill) around the neck in many appearances, and an orange/red beak (a California Condor would have an ivory colored beak). It's white ruff isn't visible in Doctor Who Magazine, and not always in some of the Death's Head appearances (and in one of those it appears yellow). Such differences could be down to the fact that I could be totally mistaken about which kind of vulture it is, art mistakes, or perhaps due to the fact that in 8162 vulture breeds would likely have evolved and changed. A California Condor would have brownish red eyes and in its first appearance it has red eyes (with no visible white part), but later (and more consistently) it appears to have no eye color, just solid white and a black pupil. I have listed the top speed of a Californian Condor as this bird's top speed, as there is little evidence in the comics to suggest otherwise, and based its weight on an average Californian Condor. The length of the bird is based on reference to the seventh Doctor, whose height is known - that of the actor Sylvester McCoy. It is only a rough estimate, but fits within the known range of lengths for the Californian Condor (though its small size suggests it is a female of the species). With this in mind, I have assumed for the sake of this profile that it's wingspan also falls within known ranges for such birds. As for the sex of the bird, there is nothing explicit in the appearances to say that it is either male or female. Due to the size consideration already mentioned, and the fact that Keepsake says it reminds him of his wife, I'd plump for it being a female.

    It's interesting that the vulture stays behind during missions, when tagging along with Death's Head would probably be a good opportunity for it to scavenge food. Perhaps perhaps some vultures in 8162 have become more domesticated. Certainly it shows some quite intelligent behavior, despite Keepsake calling it stupid.

    The vulture doesn't appear in Strip#19 (though I guess you could make an argument for a behind the scenes appearance), but when Lupex (falsely) claims that Pyra will "vent blood red rage" upon Spratt and the bird, Death's Head responds with the following:

    "Big deal. Hrm. On second thoughts, it IS a shame. RATHER LIKED THE VULTURE, YES?"

    Both Doctor Who Magazine#140 and the Strip issues containing the Body In Question storyline have seen print elsewhere. Doctor Who Magazine#140 reappeared in the Incomplete Death's Head series (split between #4 and #5) and the Body In Question storyline received its own graphic novel (and was later reprinted in Volume 2 of Panini's Death's Head graphic novels along with many other Death's Head stories).

    Thanks to MarvellousLuke, Snood and Sebastien Andrivet for assistance with the images!

Profile by Changeling.

Vulture 8162 has no known connections to

images: (without ads)
Doctor Who Magazine #140, p8, pan7 (main image)
Strip #15/4, p1, pan3 (Vulture in flight)
Strip #15/4, p1, pan5 (Vulture's face)
Death's Head #5, p7, pan5 (Intoxicated)
Death's Head #6, p10, pan5 (Vulture and phone)

Other Appearances:
Death's Head#5 (April, 1989) - Simon Furman (Writer), John Higgins (Artist), Nick Abadzis (Colourist), Richard Starkings (Editor)
Death's Head#6 (May, 1989) - Simon Furman (Writer), Liam Sharp (Penciller), Lousie Cassell (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Editor)
Death's Head#7 (June, 1989) - Simon Furman (Writer), Steve White (Editor)
Death's Head#9 (August, 1989) - Simon Furman (Writer), Geoff Senior (Artist), Louise Cassell (Colorist), Steve White (Editor)
Strip#15 (September 1, 1990) - Simon Furman (Writer), Geoff Senior (Artist), Steve White (Editor)
Strip#16 (September 15, 1990) - Simon Furman (Writer), Geoff Senior (Artist), Steve White (Editor)
Strip#17 (September 29, 1990) - Simon Furman (Writer), Geoff Senior (Artist), Steve White (Editor)
Strip#20 (November 10, 1990) - Simon Furman (Writer), Geoff Senior (Artist), Steve White (Editor)
Incomplete Death's Head#4/2 (April, 1993) - Simon Furman (Writer, John Higgins (Artist), Richard Starkings (Editor)
Incomplete Death's Head#5/ (May, 1993) - Simon Furman (Writer, John Higgins (Artist), Richard Starkings (Editor)

Last updated: 07/05/14

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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