The idea behind this comic sounds similar to late night discussions you’ve probably had with your friends. A “what if?” situation us nerds like to debate ad infinitum. What would happen if the Doctor had an adventure with the crew of the Enterprise? That’s exactly what Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation hopes to deliver: an answer to that ever burning, crossover question. Sure, it’s silly and completely non-canonical, but sometimes all you want is a silly, fun adventure.
Our story kicks off with a Borg/Cyberman team-up invasion of Delta IV, a planet inhabited by peaceful, bald humanoids. Y’know, typical Star Trek aliens. Very quickly the duel-robo forces become too much for the planet, sending refugees and retreating Starfleet forces on the run. We then check in with the Doctor, Amy and Rory as they’re on the run and in the middle of a high-speed chariot chase through ancient Egypt. I’ve got to hand it to the writing team of Scott and David Tipton, along with Tony Lee, because in these first moments of action they’ve managed to encapsulate how these two science fiction series handle threats.
In Star Trek , you’ll often have one ship, an entire fleet of ships, or a whole planet dealt a monumental threat which eventually boils down to a smaller conflict that only the crew – and typically only the bridge crew – of the Enterprise can thwart. In Doctor Who, the threat isn’t usually so obvious, and a lot of times what we thought was the threat ends up being more misdirection. Over the course of their adventure the Doctor and his companions unravel a larger, more sinister plot at work and then it’s up to them to save the universe. Star Trek works from big to small, while Doctor Who will go from small to big. It’s a fascinating storytelling difference between these two veteran sci-fi series, and while there are always exceptions to the rule, it’s neat to see the writers exploring this right from the start. Also, opening on action is something both series do quite a bit and it works to grab the reader’s attention on the page just as well as it does on the screen.
For a crossover to really work attention should be given equally to both parties, and maybe this is a judgement that should be left for when everything’s said and done, but this first issue is far more Who than it is Trek. In fact, the bulk of this one is devoted to a rather amusing escapade of the Doctor, Amy, and Rory in ancient Egypt trying to recapture an alien prisoner hiding out as the Pharaoh’s adviser. It’s fun and works well as a mini-Who adventure but it only ties into this greater crossover come the end. Star Trek-wise, besides the opening invasion of Delta IV we only glimpse a few members of the Enterprise at the very end of the issue. Basically, this whole issue comes off as one giant tease! And while I’m definitely intrigued and intend to be tuning in next time, some readers could be frustrated by the lack of crossover happening in this first issue. Particular when you look at its $3.99 price tag.
Obviously, there’s been a lot of buzz around this title, and I feel a lot pressure is not only on the story to be good, but the art as well since these beloved characters are based off real actors. Does it work? Yes and no. J.K. Woodward has a style very different from most comic book artists I enjoy, instead of traditional lineart that’s then colored, Woodward paints. His pages are colorful and lush, but at times can skimp on the detail. This probably comes down to personal preference, but for me, I liked the look of Joe Corroney’s variant cover with the Doctor, Amy, and Rory on the bridge of the Enterprise more. Not to say Woodward’s art isn’t good, because it is, and when he focuses on one character within a panel he pulls off an uncanny likeness to the actor portraying the part.
Overall, I think this series is really going to please fans. Woodward can recreate the look of these characters we love so much and the writers clearly have an understanding and appreciation for both series. For newcomers though, I wouldn’t suggest it because I get the feeling little explanation will be given to get them up to speed. Much of the fun here is having characters we’re already familiar with interacting with each other in a completely new situation. And come issue four there’s promise of even more crossover as the cover features Captain Kirk being choked by a classic Cyberman while Spock and the Fourth Doctor look on. Again, they’re such teases I really hope the payoff is just as good as their promise.