So lets be clear. I’m a Doctor Who fan. Always have been, always will be. But Star Trek…. Ahhhh, Star Trek. She’s like that straight-laced church-going girl who lives nearby that you’ve secretly always liked, who one summer you had a fling and always remember it fondly, even if you don’t mention it to anyone
Currently I am plowing through The Next Generation – from start to finish – with my 10 year old daughter, since even though Doctor Who is The One True Show, she has to be rounded out, right?
Star Trek mirrors Doctor Who in lots of ways – it’s morality, it’s ability to take on world issues in a sci-fi setting so you aren’t even aware of the sneaky the way the writers are commenting on it, and of course, it’s littered with Aliens. Although generally more boring ones, with little bobbly heads instead of full on, here-comes-the-scary-pepperpot Daleks.
But it does have the Borg, whose similarity to the Cybermen is marked. And for all those playground conversations about who would win, the Cybermen or the Borg, your arguments are now answered. In spades.
And then there’s comic books. I’m not necessarily a ‘comic book guy’ in the Simpsons way of looking at it, but I’ve read my fair share of comics in my day (I LOVED 2000AD back in the day, and still admit to owning most of the Judge Dredd case books. I’ve plowed through almost all of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, and the comic book reader app Comic Zeal certainly gets a work out on my Ipad.).
So, there we go – bona fides established, I think.
When I first heard about Assimilation², the Doctor Who/Star Trek cross over, I have to admit to some trepidation. I’ve personally been involved in two different Star Trek games (Star Trek – The Next Generation, from Bally Midway, and Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force from Raven Software) and I’m aware of how difficult Paramount can be to work with on this product. And given the previous quality of the Star Trek/Marvel X-Men cross over, I didn’t feel like there was much hope for this.
But I plowed ahead anyway. Who wouldn’t want to at least see how these two incredible IP’s fit together? I realized that I’m probably the worst kind of fan for a cross over of this kind – the fan who pays attention, loves both IP’s and is on the alert for anything that doesn’t fit in. My standards are high and this had better be right, because if it wasn’t, I’d be right on Kasterborous, pointing out where it wasn’t.
And you know what? IDW (the makers and publishers of Assimilation²) have only gone and done it! Reading the 8 issues, they’ve completely gotten the voices of both sets of characters spot on. When it comes to brand extensions of any kind, my yardstick has always been this: when I read the characters dialog, do I hear it in the characters voices? Is that the Doctor saying those words, or are they just words on a page? Is that really Data asking silly questions, or is that Brent Spiner mouthing the words?
And in this case I’m happy to report, the characters are absolutely saying those words. Even Rory – who is notoriously hard to pitch right – rings true.
So okay, the characters are right on. What about the art? The art style appears to be a painting style, which I’ve got to imagine is a time consuming way to do it, but my goodness, it looks good. Yes it does. Again, all characters appear to be spot on. If I didn’t know better, I’d have to imagine that some of the art is taken from photographs and then modified – it’s that good – certainly better than I’ve usually come to expect from your average comic book, where people fight each other and apparently have time for a lengthy soliloquy in the time it takes to throw one punch.
There’s even a really nice flashback to the Original Series, with a reference to the Fourth Doctor and much starker, 60’s style art work. This is evidently a work of love here – you can see it.
“But what of the story?” I hear you cry. Well, I don’t, because that would be hearing voices and as we’ve established in the past, you have to ignore those voices, or the person in front of you at the traffic lights who won’t move off fast enough would have died instantly, from the lasers in your headlights.
Anyway. Back to the story. Story is where Doctor Who and Star Trek shine (or sometimes not, in the case of Fear Her and Angel 1). A bad story will just highlight wasted characters and terrific art portraying nothing worth looking at.
Fear not. Not only have they managed to produce a story in Assimilation² worthy of both Doctor Who AND Star Trek, but they’ve also managed to interweave key elements from both intellectual properties in such a way that they don’t conflict, but actually compliment each other.
Without trying to spoil the story, they writers have incorporated time travel, references Star Trek:TNG’s most famous set of episodes (The Best of Both Worlds), a flash back to a new Fourth Doctor adventure, managed to give every one of the large ensemble cast of The Next Generation something meaningful to do and even managed to set up the First Contact movie, all in 8 issues. And there’s lots of Borg and Cybermen. Lots of them.
To be clear, there is a huge amount going on in this story, but it’s extremely well woven together – some of the interactions between the Doctor and Captain Picard, Deanna and Amy Pond and so on are just great to read and completely believable, given what we know of the two characters.
I’m not entirely convinced of the outcome of the Borg vs the Cybermen – if you read it, you’ll see how one sided it is and I’m pretty convinced that both sides are a lot more resourceful than they are necessarily portrayed – but the story line demands one side wins and the other loses, so it had to be one way or the other – I’m just not convinced it would be the way it’s portrayed. But that’s also nitpicking at the highest level.
So there you go. It’s a definite thumbs up from the Star Trek/Doctor Who fan over here. Very surprised – in the best possible way – about the quality of this spin off.
Frankly, after consuming all eight issues, I just want to see more. I want to see Daleks take on the Romulans, or the Klingons take on the Sontarans. When you think about it, there is huge amounts of potential here. But most of all, I want to see the Doctor and Picard discuss moral issues, since both do it with such strength and conviction.
While not quite the threesome with the church-going girl and your girlfriend that might have occasionally wandered across your mind, Assimilation² is not far off…
Assimilation² is published by IDW and is available from Amazon.