The Cybermen: Mondas vs Cybus
Guest contributor Gustaff compares Cybermen old and new.
As we journey towards the upcoming Cybermen story that is to be the penultimate episode of Doctor Who Series 7, why don’t we take a step back and compare what has come before. By come before, I am of course referring to the two design structures that are the Mondasian and the Cybus Cybermen.
“They must be found and…destroyed.”
First up are the most recognized Cybermen design. These cyborgs were once a wholly race of humanoids from Earth’s twin planet of Mondas. The planet in question drifted further and further away from the sun which caused the temperatures there to drop dangerously. The Mondasians’ only means of saving themselves was to replace their body parts with plastic and machine, which would protect them from the harsh atmosphere their planet had turned into.
Mondasian Cybermen’s appearance varied depending on the story they were in and the technology available to their species at the time, but their most basic appearance had them wearing silver suits that looked like a sort of metallic plastic or Mylar, to rubber with exposed circuitry. The most likely theory that explains this is that these Cybermen were nomads and had limited resources, fixing and redesigning themselves with whatever tools they could locate or invent.
The redesigned Cybermen of the series evolved on a parallel world, following roughly the same storyline with John Lumic, a terminally ill human seeking to extend his life. For that reason, he created the Cybus Cybermen, a species of Cybermen who fully upgraded other life forms, apart from their brains and made it their mission to convert all other life forms into Cybermen so that they would all share the same information and equality. These Cybermen seemed to maintain a consistent appearance rather than upgrading again and again like the Mondas Cybermen. Their cyber-suits were made of steel and completely bulletproof. The suits were also very heavy, resulting in a clank when they walked. It is important to note that these Cybermen were not nomads. They sought equality while their Mondasian counterparts sought to extend their lives.
The Cybermen, in both universes had more or less the same arsenal. The Cybermats, which fed on brainwaves, and the Cybershades, which were ‘upgraded’ cats or dogs, were the Cybermen’s primary offensive weapon when they didn’t want to get involved themselves.
The earliest Mondasian Cybermen had guns and beam weapons added to their suits, but traded them in for hand-held energy weapons that they carried around in the later evolutions of their life. Why they decided to develop this way is unclear, as it seems like a step backwards.
The Cybus Cybermen, similarly, did not use hand held weapons early on, but had beam dischargers mounted on their wrists, as well as weaponized hands that could send out an electric shock to anyone it touched. In the later stages of their evolution, the Cybermen also carried around energy blasters, but still retained their wrist mounted arsenal.
“But you need not fear. Cybermen will remove fear. Cybermen will remove sex and class and color and creed.”
Unlike the Daleks, who want to exterminate any living organism that isn’t a Dalek, Cybermen have made survival their primary objective. To achieve this, they travel the universe, converting and upgrading other life forms into Cybermen to join them, so in a sense, they seek unison, as evidenced by their lack of no longer having individual names or personalities to speak of.
“Emotion is a weakness.”
The most prominent feature of Cybermen is their lack of emotion which they view as a weakness. The Cybus Cybermen have all but wiped out their emotions thanks to a special chip, causing them to speak in a deep electronic voice which is far less emotional than the Mondasian Cybermen. This ‘upgrade’ in their personality results in the Cybermen using technical terms such as ‘Delete’ when attacking or ‘Incompatible’ when viewing someone unsuited for cyber-conversion. Unlike the Mondasian Cybermen, these Cybermen seem to have a diminished vocabulary.
The Mondasian Cybermen, in comparison, were far more emotional when speaking. They fully comprehended technical and emotional responses. Also, these Cybermen occasionally displayed and spoke in certain tones that could be easily interpreted by someone as emotional, more specifically self-righteousness or anger. The reason for this is unclear, but blaming the writers for forgetting how to be detached could be a plausible theory.
The Mondasian Cybermen had an apparent vulnerability to the mineral gold for its non-corrosive nature which caused the Cybermen to choke. Because these Cybermen’s suits were not wholly metal or steel like their Cybus counterparts, these Cybermen were easily defeated by explosives or projectiles like the Raston Warrior Robot’s javelins. However, basic 20th century guns and artillery (which move at much faster speeds) proved ineffective against these Cybermen. High levels of radiation was another weakness of these Cybermen, as well as the Cerebration Mentor device which possessed the same effect as turning off the Emotional Inhibitors on the Cybus Cybermen. The Mondasian Cybermen’s own weaponry were fatal to themselves at close range as evidenced by Earthshock where the Doctor is able to defeat one this way.
The Cybus Cybermen didn’t possess as many of the weaknesses their Mondasian counterparts had. As mentioned above, switching off the Emotional Inhibitor would be fatal to these Cybermen however and lethal artillery such as rocket launchers would be enough to blow the Cybermen apart. Dalek weaponry also proved highly effective, but given the evidence above, it might be more accurate to assume that the Mondasian Cybermen also shared this weakness. Actually ‘weakness’ might not be the correct term to use when considering Dalek weaponry has been shown to surpass most alien species’, so it may just be a case of who has the better (not bigger) gun.
A question I should really be leaving with the readers, but in this author’s opinion, should these Cybermen ever meet on the battlefield, the Cybusmen would easily ‘delete’ the Mondasians of the Classic Series. This theory is further supported by the multitude of weaknesses that the Modasian Cybermen possess, which aren’t shared by their Cybus counterparts.
The Next Upgrade
2013 will see the rise of a newly designed Cybermen. According to Nick Briggs, these Cybermen will be Mondasian. This portion of the article will center on the right mixture of Classic and New-Who in order to create what this author would view as the perfect Cybermen and what could very well be the new Cybermen scheme.
The Cybermen should keep their detached Cybus vocabulary and voice mannerisms as they do sound like they have zero emotion. Plus ‘delete’ is an awesome catchphrase. This cold detachment and lost humanity is exactly the feeling you want your audience to experience. Visually, the idea of sleeker Cybermen like the pictures of the new ones is a perfect homage to the Mondasian Cybermen, as well as incorporating the armor-plated Cybusmen we’re used to in the New Series. The new Cybermen look as though they embody what both Classic and New-Who should look like if they had to be joined together, but there is one aspect that has to change…the narrative. On this there can be no argument. The Cybermen in the New-Who are underused and used poorly in their stories! Cybermen stories should have them be threatening like they were in The Age of Steel/Doomsday (minus the Daleks blowing them up so easily). They should be almost indestructible and barely conquerable. The Classic Series made use of the Cybermen by having them active in their storyline and that is the most important aspect of the Cybermen in Doctor Who that this author feels needs to be ‘upgraded’.