Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 #3, IDW Publishing.
By Sam Hurwitt
If the historic first crossover between the fanatically popular fortysomething-year-old science fiction franchises wasn’t enough to rope me in—and it was—this was the issue of Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 that I’ve been waiting for. The bulk of the eight-issue comic book miniseries teams Captain Picard’s Next Generation crew with the current, 11th incarnation of the time-traveling adventurer the Doctor, facing off against the combined forces of their near-identical cyborg adversaries, the Borg and the Cybermen. But the third issue promises a team-up of the most dearly remembered iterations of both franchises: Captain Kirk’s original-series Star Trek crew and the eccentric Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker in the 1970s. (For anyone not familiar with Doctor Who, the Doctor is a 900-year-old Time Lord who periodically “regenerates” a new body with a new personality, which allowed the BBC TV series to be recast periodically as it ran continuously for 26 years, and then again for the last seven years since its popular—and I must say, better than ever—revival.)
Now, although the Doctor travels freely through time and space in his ship the TARDIS, he has of course never encountered any Star Trek species because that’s not his universe. However, as we learned in issue 2, no sooner does he show up in the starship Enterprise’s holodeck and meet its crew than he starts recognizing species like the Klingons that he should ever have heard of. Something is very wrong with the timeline. That confusion continues in issue 3 as the android Lieutenant Commander Data looks through the Enterprise’s database for any mention of the Cybermen—who should exist only in the Doctor’s universe—and finds one from the logs of the original Enterprise. With a painful-looking jolt, the Doctor suddenly remembers this as well—when his earlier self showed up out of the blue (as he usually does) to help Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty investigate a space station that turned out to be infested by the Cybermen (an earlier model appropriate to that period of Doctor Who).
Now, as I’ve said in my reviews of the first and second issues, not a whole heck of a lot happens in any given issue. But at least what happens in this particular issue is kind of cool. Having just met each other in the last issue, the Doctor and his companions and the Enterprise crew find themselves face to face with a combined force of the Borg and the Cybermen. We catch a glimpse of the interior of one of their ships, in which we see Borg and Cybermen standing together with some hybrids of both cyborg species—which only makes sense, because they both exist to convert everyone they encounter into someone like them. Also cool: for some reason the Enterprise seems to have some nameless Andorian bridge officer, which is cool just because Andorians are awesome, and we never got to see them in that particular period of Star Trek.
The flashback is rendered in a completely different art style than the rest of the series. While the rest of the comic is painted by J.K. Woodward (whose figures remain eerily accurate in depicting the original actors but largely on the stiff and lifeless side, with a bit of underwater-looking fuzziness), this part is drawn in a crisp and simple retro style by Australian siblings the Sharp Brothers. It’s short and sweet, and the Doctor doesn’t have that much to do in it aside from offering jelly babies and saving the day, but it’s good to see it on general principle. I still wish the current Doctor’s companions, Amy and Rory, would get a chance to do or say anything interesting in this series, but so far they’re just sticking to the background. Picard’s crew is as relatively calm and contemplative as they are in the TV series, so it feels like there’s more wheels-spinning to come before anything actually happens.
Writers Scott and David Tipton and Tony Lee do get a few good character moments in along the way. My favorite is when Riker says that the Doctor being present in Kirk’s day would make him “more than a hundred years old.” “Don’t be ridiculous, Commander,” the Doctor says. “I’m nowhere near 100.”
But this issue’s mainly concerned with why the Doctor’s remembering what he shouldn’t be remembering, and establishes not much other than what we knew last issue: yep, that’s happening. And at the end of the issue, Picard takes him to meet Guinan, the ship’s wise bartender (originally played by Whoopi Goldberg) who’s more than 500 years old. Now, depending on the reader, that may sound totally awesome or really boring. And you know, I love Whoopi (I used to carpool with her when I was a kid), but this doesn’t exactly seem like a promising sign that things are going to start moving any faster anytime soon.