Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 #2, IDW Publishing.
As I enthused last month, I’m pretty darned excited about Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2. Bulky title aside, it’s the first official crossover ever between the two beloved fortysomething-year-old science fiction franchises, and that itself is pretty momentous. This one’s been a long time coming. I quite enjoyed the first issue even though it was all setup, and I enjoyed the second issue as well, though I’m all too aware that it’s all setup as well.
This is an eight-issue series, and it definitely strikes me that not very much happens in any one issue so far. In the first one we established that the Borg and the Cybermen had joined together to attack Federation outposts, and then we followed the Doctor and his companions from one time-tossed adventure to 1941 San Francisco, where on the very last page we caught our first sight of the Enterprise crew, hanging out in a bar in period dress. The second issue makes up for the lack of Next Gen action in the first by dwelling at length on the crew’s latest away mission, to visit a Federation mining operation on a water planet of tolerant but disinterested fish people who don’t care much when the mine suffers a breach with significant loss of life.
Like the ancient Egyptian romp that the Doctor was on in the first issue, it remains to be seen if this story has any relevance whatsoever to the Borg/Cybermen invasion that’s presumably going to be the meat of the series. Like the Enterprise crew in the first issue, the Borg and Cybermen (or rather their ships) don’t appear in this one until the very last page, so we’ll have to wait for issue three to see what’s up with them.
What happens in this one, primarily, is that the Doctor finally meets Picard’s crew. I’d say the Doctor and his companions, but Amy and Rory stick to the background and say hardly a word. The initial meeting is pretty clever—it turns out that the San Francisco bar the Doctor wandered into is actually on the holodeck of the Enterprise. After tsking about the mining accident for maybe two seconds, Picard suddenly says that everyone should go check out the upgraded holodeck, because there’s a new Dixon Hill adventure he’s dying to try out. Yeah yeah, dead miners, but all he can think about is hard-boiled detective fiction—and he’s not even going! He’s sending the others in to sample his favorite serial instead.
Okay, so the setup is a bit labored, but the meeting itself is pretty clever. Having unknowingly landed the TARDIS inside the holodeck before entering the bar, the Doctor immediately bounces up to Data, marveling at the clever android design. Commander Riker assumes the Doctor is a malfunctioning hologram that’s not supposed to notice obvious anachronisms like that. More interesting is that the Doctor immediately recognizes Worf as a Klingon and then notes that he shouldn’t even know what a Klingon is because he’s never even heard that word before. Something is amiss with the timeline!
Sometime IDW Publishing Star Trek writers Scott and David Tipton and IDW Doctor Who comic writer Tony Lee get the tone for both series and their characters pretty much pitch-perfect. I’m not quite as enamored with J.K. Woodward’s painted interiors as I was in the first issue, however. He continues to get the likenesses of the characters impressively right, but a lot of the poses are awfully stiff, and some of the faces have a lumpy, unfinished look to them. That’s especially true of the incidental characters, most of whom are pretty funny-looking. The Starfleet captain overseeing the mining operation looks like a sort of grotesque version of present-day Cheech Marin.
Still, even if they sometimes look like they’re viewed through and old and somewhat warped window, it’s definitely a boon to the series to have the characters look so much like their onscreen counterparts. Picard even adjusts his tunic when he gets up.
In sum, the series is still charming, though the Doctor seems to consistently get the better of things through his infectious playfulness alone. When Picard says, “is this your doing, Doctor? Your arrival is conveniently timed, after all,” the Doctor ripostes, “Me? I’ve never even heard of Delta IV! Which, considering the fact that I know every planet of every star system, is just a tiny bit concerning! As for conveniently timed, that could be my middle name!” Indeed it could. See, charming!
The next issue seems to be all ready for first contact with the combined Borg/Cyberman collective. However, issue three is also the one with the cover that sold me on the series in the first place, showing the Fourth Doctor (as played by Tom Baker) with Kirk and Spock, battling the Cybermen. Weirdly, however, the Captain’s face seems to have gotten a lot calmer since last I saw it.
It seems whatever damage is being done to the timeline goes back farther than we may have imagined. If that’s not a selling point, I don’t know what is.