A nerd’s fantasy literally comes to life in IDW’s Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation². Who was that nerd and what did he think? That would be me and read on and you’ll find out!
Star Trek TNG/Doctor Who: Assimilation² #1
On Delta IV within Federation Space, the Borg arrive with a strange new ally to attack and assimilate the planet. The Prime Minister is whisked away to a bunker. The Federation sends a task force to deal with the Borg invasion, but the first two ships to arrive are feebly under powered. When the Borg break through the defenses, the Prime Minister barely escapes. Meanwhile, in Ancient Egypt, The Doctor, Amy, and Rory are on the run from Egyptian soldiers. They eventually sneak into the Pharoah’s Palace where they save the world from an alien hiding out as the Pharoah’s vizier. Later, when the time travelers leave, the TARDIS experiences a rough landing in a pre-war San Francisco. They enter a bar expecting to find something unusual… Like a pasty looking android in a pinstripe suit.
Let’s face both the Dalek right in its eye and a Gorn right in his horn, there are no two fan bases quite like Star Trek’s or Doctor Who’s. Don’t even start with me on Star Wars fans. Why? Because anyone can be a massive Star Wars fanatic. It’s not even close to being an exclusive club. For those of us who have always considered ourselves Trekkies and Whovians, well, we needed to be a special breed. The original Star Trek series suffered from the limits of 60s imagination, William Shatner’s acting style, and foam rubber rocks. Later, the Next Generation would appeal to not just the Trekkies, but also techies who would get off on the more scientific aspects of the series. Both series made you think about social and political issues while still throwing in action where necessary.
Fans of Doctor Who are an even more special breed. Why? Have you ever seen one of the classic Doctor Who serials? I’m not talking about from 2005. I’m talking about from the 60s, 70s, or 80s. If you ever caught the show on PBS, and the first thing you saw was one of Omega’s anti-matter creatures, or the Zarbi, or Movellans, or the Third Doctor’s flying car your first instinct was to probably laugh. Hard. But if you actually watched the show for any extended period of time, you’d realize quickly that the show was exceptionally written. While continuity was incredibly tough, after all it was originally a children’s show, the show used adventure and characterization to make it great. It was so black and white in terms of good and bad that it remained base simple. While most of the earliest serials are lost to time (and a bad case of the BBC cutting costs by erasing old tapes), you never had to watch the series from 1963 to know what was going on in an episode from 1981. You could jump on at any time and know exactly just what you needed. The newer series is different and focuses much more on the Doctor’s companions and action than detailed storytelling, but it’s still damn satisfying to watch a new Doctor Who story.
To think of ever seeing these two, worldwide phenomenon franchises ever getting together was a long shot at best. It was more likely to be the nerdiest wet dream any person could have, but here we are. With both franchises currently being published in comic form under the IDW banner, it was only natural to bring them together. Considering both franchises had cybernetic beings that would assimilate others into their race, why not use the Cybermen and the Borg as the villains? With Star Trek as popular as it pretty much always has been and Doctor Who more popular than ever, this was one crossover that had a lot of fans of both series whetting their lips in anticipation. It had the makings to be one of those crossovers that you didn’t want to miss even if most of these types of stories required the two separate entities to be forced into each other’s time/universe. So does this pan out as well as we all hoped?
Yes. Yes, it certainly does.
It’s great that the writing team of Scott and David Tipton and Tony Lee was able to capture the feeling of each franchise perfectly. While Star Trek always preached and promoted the idea of peace and open mindedness, a vast majority of Trek stories are especially dark and violent. After all, space is a place that isn’t safe by nature. Then you run into others, like Klingons for example, that show their power not through logic and peace, but through force and brute strength. So, since we start in the time of the The Next Generation, what happens? There’s a massive invasion full of death and assimilation. It starts so dark with the typical tension and thrill that usually accompany the Borg that it just felt right. We then shift to the Doctor’s side of the story and what’s going on there? Why, it’s a big, fun, exciting chase with the Doctor and his companions escaping from Egyptian guards! It’s loud and exciting and fast paced which is what we’ve come to expect over the years from the Doctor. If there’s one thing you can always count on, no matter which era of Doctor Who you watch, is a big giant chase, and that’s exactly what we get here. Despite the stark differences between the two franchises’ tones, this book turns out to be a fun romp. All this with J.K. Woodward’s beautiful art that has the painted look to it. Could we have asked for anything else?
Sprinkled into the book itself are some very nice Easter eggs for fans of both series. The first thing we see is Delta IV. I immediately thought of Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture and anytime I can think of that, I smile warmly. Next, as mentioned before, the chase scene in Egypt. Again, I can’t stress enough how Doctor Who this is. Even how he saves the Pharoah is so classically Doctor Who that it made me fairly giddy. Finally, there are two things found in the last scene that was purely awesome for fans. First, the TARDIS lands outside a business called Tom’s Bakery (a play on ultra famous Doctor Who actor Tom Baker) that happens to be on 4th Street (Baker was the 4th Doctor from 1974 to 1981). Then for them to enter the bar to see Commander Riker, Commander Data, and Doctor Crusher dressed as they were whenever they go into the Dixon Hill program within the Holodeck. What’s the significance of this? It just so happens that “The Big Goodbye” is my all time favorite Next Generation episode. So if you were to ask me if I thought this was geared toward fans of both Star Trek and Doctor Who, I’d emphatically say, “You bet your bippy it is!”
If I could find one fault of this first issue it would be how much more Doctor Who has in terms of story than Star Trek. While it certainly injected a ton of fun into a particularly dark opening, I would have liked to have seen a tad more from the Star Trek story too. I would have even paid another dollar in order to get a few more pages for Star Trek to get a little more play. Don’t get me wrong, though, this book has an amazing start and definitely lived up to the hype that I had built around it for a fun story featuring some of my all time favorite characters in any medium ever.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|An absolutely fun romp featuring some of the greatest sci-fi characters ever. Both franchises are characterized by mood fantastically. Great art from Woodward.||Could have used a little more from the Trek side.|