this Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who crossover Assimilation 2

Comics The staff at the local Forbidden Planet must be tire people like me. The kind of people who turn up on delivery day nomically asking “Is it in yet?” assuming they’ll remember what I’m talking about out of the many hundreds of titles they have to sift through each week. Such as its been waiting for this Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who crossover Assimilation 2 since it was announced what feels like many months ago with ambiguous publication dates and an uncertainty about whether it would be supplied to the UK at all thanks to Panini’s sole UK comic rights to the franchise.  Strangely not a problem thanks to having Star Trek first in the title.

Was it worth the wait? Well … in #1, the writers Scott & David Tipton (with Tony Lee) have in mind to adjust what they see as two disparate fan bases into the different universes. The story opens with a teaser section about a Borg invasion of Delta IV (home planet of the Motion Picture’s Ilia) catching a bunch of Starfleet officers by surprise. Familiar characters are AWOL, but it’s a thrilling piece thick  Trek mythology with Vulcans and Andorians, sober barking of orders and starships being vapourised ala The Best of Both Worlds. There’s also a bit of beaming and some fantastic artwork of an armada of ships from J.K. Woodward.

Then we’re plunged into an entirely Trekless pseudo-historical romp around ancient Egypt for the Eleventh Doctor and friends, the writers capturing nicely the interplay between the three of them as they infiltrate a pharoh’s palace to flush out an alien – a kind of extended bit of Doctor Who Adventures business that manages to also work in that Rory was a Roman for a bit and that Amelia was the “girl who waited”. The likenesses are beautifully rendered by Woodward working from some familiar publicity shots, a rare occasion when Amy Pond in comic form actually looks like Karen Gillan and not some anonymous red head.

Then breathlessly we're into the final few pages with the TARDIS landing in 30s San Francisco but once we see a splash page set in a bar featuring Riker, Data and Beverly we know they’re on the holodeck at which point I rolled my eyes and wondered what they’d been doing for the previous nineteen pages because this should have been the first three, this should have been the teaser. I’m not often one to review what isn’t there, but it seems bizarre that with just eight issues to play about with the writers have decided to spend most of the first keeping the key characters apart.

The essential problem is this:  Though the Egyptian runaround is fun, because it has to reflect a typical Doctor Who story its also horrendously generic which means Who fans for all the cute back references are going to feel short changed because we’ve seen it all before. But Trek fans will have an even more understandable grievance because after the initial invasion chunk, they have to sit through all this Time Lord eccentricity before regreeting the characters they probably bought the comic for since they’re on the cover. Apart from Picard, who’s on the cover but not even inside.

The opposite approach would have been twenty pages of the Enterprise cocking about with an interstellar phenomena interspersed with Data discovering jealousy via his cat Spot finding romance elsewhere with the TARDIS vworping into a corridor at the end, which would have been equally alienating to those Who fans who couldn't give a stuff when the anomaly's revealed to be focus of the feline's amore.  Just because most of this thing is going to be set in the Trekverse Prime, we're adjusted enough not to need some old school Deus Ex Machina.

They're assuming an audience incompatibility that may not exist.  Perhaps another way of dealing with it would have been to have the TARDIS land on the holodeck much earlier and have the crew explore that 30s setting slowly coming to the conclusion that perhaps it was either too fake, too perfect or too fictional.  We readers would all know where they actually are, but it would have given the supposed non-Whovians a chance to get to know the characters but in the familiar setting from The Big Goodbye.  Then drop in the reveal of the Enterprise crew and go from there.

It’s not a total disaster. A lapsed Trekker like me can see all kinds of ironies in the opening pages, like the fundamentally emotionless Cyber-Borg alliance annexing the Deltans, a notoriously empathic race (“My oath of celibacy is on record, Captain.” etc). Or the stardate included which may orientate the attentive Trek fan to this being set in season five between The Outcast and Cause and Effect, but might have Who fans like me sniggering because the former’s a gay allegory and the latter's about a time loop. Plus, is the Cybus logo on the chestplate of the Cybermen a deliberate choice or a reflection of the images Woodward was working from?

Hopefully when the other seven issues are published, this opening instalment will make better sense within the overall structure and the writer's will have resolved who's supposed to have narrative agency and who they're supposed to be writing this for.  Maybe issue two will be from the Enterprise crew’s perspective and we’ll have A Matter of Time referencing discussion with the Doctor trying to convince Picard that he’s not bonkers and that he should be listened to in regards to the alien invasion which is making Wolf 359 look like a labrador.

Perhaps it’s just that having been the boy who waited, I can’t believe we’re having to wait another month for the inevitable scenes when Riker flirts with Amy, Data enters the TARDIS and blows is positronic net, Geordie and Rory realise that they're functionally similar in the narrative and Picard asks for the doctor and both the Time Lord and Crusher turn up.  Hopefully we'll not greet issue three with Kirk and Spock bumping into the fourth Doctor (Shatner meets Tom!) and wonder if we shouldn't have had eight issues of that instead.  We'll see.

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