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The powers of Daleks have been subtly retooled over the 40 years since their first appearance on TV in 1964. Comics sometimes showed them to have different powers than televised special effects were capable of allowing them to display. It is therefore difficult to pin down just exactly what they might be capable of in a given comic story. However, they are consistently shown as being a part of a collective will, usually administered by a head Dalek known as the Emperor. This Emperor has not always been the same individual. In pursuit of the Emperor's goals, the Daleks can apply any of a number of skills: virtual invulnerability to common weapons, flight, the ability to interface with virtually any computer system, extreme intelligence, significant firepower, and a casing that protects the organic symbiont inside from virtually any environment. It has recently been shown in the 2005 series of Doctor Who that they also can generate force fields and "download" genetic material from organic creatures, forcing the further evolution of the creature inside the casing.
Daleks are only virtually impregnable. Cataclysmic explosions as well as concentrated firepower have been known to breech the casing. They generally cannot withstand things like wholesale destruction of their ships. A repeated point, at least on television, is that they are slaves to logic, and can be outwitted by taking improbable actions against them. If they have a philosophy, it is that of "racial purity" and "categorization"; using strategies that draw from several different cultures often confuses them. As has been shown in the 2005 series of Doctor Who, introducing DNA from a different source than the interior creature causes them to develop a kind of mental illness which debilitates them.
There are two competing theories as to how Daleks originated. While both agree that the Daleks came from the planet Skaro on which there were hostilities between a group of people called the Thals and the race that would become the Daleks, the details beyond that are quite different. For the television explanation, please refer to the serial, "Genesis of the Daleks".
The comics, though, suggest that the Daleks began as short, blue humanoids. They were separated from the Thals by the Ocean of Ooze, but nevertheless pursued a war of aggressive expansion against the peace-loving Thaals. Far from being the equal aggressors, as "Genesis" would have it, the peace-loving Thals "went in constant dread of attack from the short, ugly Daleks". Voices were raised in the halls of Dalek government to end the aggression, but Dalek War Minister Zolfian would hear none of it. He assassinated the more peaceful leader of the Daleks, Drenz, and assumed control of the government. A scientist, Yarvelling, had found a way to use some recently-discovered cobalt to create a super-weapon. Zolfian's plan was to bomb the Thals with a nuclear weapon, then send in these pure robots to "mop up". At this point, there was no intent that the Daleks should house some interior creature. These robots (which looked like the Daleks we know today) were produced for two weeks.
In the middle of this initial production run, a massive meteor storm came to Skaro. It wiped out the production facilities, and pounded the weapons depot. The nuclear bombs the Daleks were preparing for the Thals instead went off in the Daleks' back yard. The Dalek civilization was nearly wiped out.
After two years of hiding underground, Yarveling and Zolfian emerged on the surface to see what damage had been wrought. They discovered there that some of their robots had survived, but had somehow been changed. The robots had become accidentally fused with Daleks who had not made it to shelter. Thus the Daleks we know today were born of an accident.
The new, robotic Dalek the pair encountered on the surface pled with the two humanoids to help it construct a new army of Daleks like itself. They agreed, largely because they realized that all humanoid Daleks, including themselves, had now contracted radiation sickness. The humanoid Daleks were close to death.
The remaining humanoids quickly built production facilities and gave the cybernetic Dalek they had met on the surface a way to perpetuate itself. It then asked for a special casing to be made for it. This casing clearly differentiated itself from all other cybernetic Daleks. Yarveling and Zolfian completed this new casing just in time. As they and the few remaining organic Daleks were dying, they heard their cybernetic ally proclaim himself "Emperor of the Daleks".
The Daleks that the universe would come to fear had been born.
This is a "catch-all" character used to note the fact that Daleks in general appear in a particular story. Often, but not always, individual Daleks are un-named, and without such a utilitarian character, there would be no way to indicate that Daleks are in a story.
First Appearance: The Dalek Book (1964) HC
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View a chronological listing of this character's appearances
Abslom Daak - Dalek Killer (1990)
TPB Captain Britain (1985)
- 'Abslom Daak: Dalek Killer'
Countdown/TV Action (1971)
Doctor Who (1984)
Doctor Who Classic Comics (1992)
Doctor Who Classics (2007)
Doctor Who Graphic Novel (2004)
Doctor Who Magazine (1979)
Doctor Who Magazine Special (1980)
Doctor Who Yearbook (1992)
Movie Classic (1962)
Terry Nation's Dalek Annual (1976)
The Amazing World of Doctor Who (1976)
The Dalek Book (1964)
The Dalek Outer Space Book (1966)
The Dalek World (1965)
The Doctor Who Fun Book (1987)
TV Century 21 (TV 21) (1965)
TV Comic (1951)
TV Comic Annual (1951)
TV Comic Doctor Who Special (1973)
TV Comic Holiday Special (1963)
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