Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, issue #7.

Comics Another month of Assimilation2 and some more of my low expectations have been conclusively met. When I visited Forbidden Planet to buy my ordered copy today, it was the first occasion when I genuinely considered giving it back, but the cover with its TARDIS flying into the battle of Wolf 359 promised so much and I had to add something with this month’s Buffy so that I could pay by debit card (transactions must be over five pounds) that I decided that yes, it was probably a bit too late to back out now. Like Torchwood’s Miracle Day before it, there’s a certain point when despite all logic to the contrary about there being too few hours in a human life to be spent not doing things you enjoy, you just feel like you need some form of closure.

The cover, as ever, is another misrepresentation of the contents. In reality, the TARDIS spends the battle of Wolf 359 parked in a conduit in Locutus’s Borg cube while the Doctor showing a surprising knowledge of Star Trek’s mythology apparently thanks to a conversation with Picard, offers another synopsis of The Best of Both Worlds to his companions over several pages, along with a philosophical discussion on the wherefores of the Borg’s collections (huh, he, huh huh, he said bondage) and why he can’t interfere in the action due to it being a fixed point in time, presumably because he’s travelled back from the resulting continuity even though in relation to some other stories that makes little sense.

Rarely during this conversation does the Eleventh Doctor sound like himself apart from calling the Ponds, the Ponds. He’s generic Doctor again offering big long speeches which could just as well be Commander Data (who to be fair I realised whilst reading this was the analogous Merlin/Gandalfy figure of Star Trek: The Next Generation, unless it’s Guinan – I’ll get back to you on DS9, though it’s probably Odo). As I’ve discovered from the Eighth Doctor novels, the most successful writers are able to produce dialogue which automatically makes your imagination recall the sound of their voice without much work. At no point does this big speech sound like something Matt Smith would say.

It’s worth nothing that for a few issues now, one of the other story elements, the Doctor’s memory changing to suit the Roddenburyverse hasn’t warranted a mention. Instead of suggesting Picard was the source of this information, we might have expected that the Doctor’s new found knowledge is the source of his expertise in Borg technology. Either this has been forgotten, been resolved and I hadn’t noticed, or it’s never going to be dealt with which seems most likely considering this thing only has twenty-two pages to run. This was just the sort of structuring that sunk Torchwood’s Miracle Day; huge story ideas which seems like they’re going to fuel episodes worth of material quickly forgotten and not mentioned again.

After they return from the Borg sortee, we’re back on the sodding Enterprise for another seven pages which basically exist to rationalise why the ship won’t be able to catch up with the CyberBorg and they’ll have to travel in the TARDIS. The writers obviously have pacing in mind here and to be fair they are chock full of character related moments, the Doctor pretending Amy and Rory won’t be coming, Riker asking Crusher if she can have a go at deBorgifying his friend (which at this late stage just seems designed to remind the reader that Beverley still exists) and Worf giving an astonishingly long speech about the modifications he’s made to the guns they’ll be taking so that the Doctor can offer his objections to them.

This section demonstrates how wrong headed the storytelling has been in this entire series. The key scene should be Data entering the TARDIS for the first time; indeed of all the characters, his reaction is the one that should be savoured, since like the Doctor, he’s the one who experiences everything with a child-like wonder. The writers piss it away in three frames, one of which doesn’t even feature the android. The art’s fine, with a rendering of Data from Encounter at Farpoint (I think), but given the amount of pointless exposition the reader has to endure elsewhere, it’s a shame that the writers haven’t realised that it’s these moments we fans of both franchises cherish (it’s why there’s a special feature on the dvds called “moments”).

Thence to the Cyber-Armada for the infiltration and an eight page action sequence as Worf and the Ponds are separated from Picard, the Doctor and Data as they fight their way through the ship. This isn’t such a horrible idea, and under normal circumstances, there’s plenty which could be done with the Amy and Rory’s reaction to being attached to a warrior who’s still firmly a hero, contrasting the Doctor who might fit that broad description (cf, A Good Man Goes To War), but whose methods are completely different. Except as I said earlier with just twenty-two pages, there simply isn’t the space to explore this fully. The most we get is the Klingon convincing them to carry a gun (that’s not how we roll, hey Amy?).

The issue ends with the Worf and Picard separately swearing in their own language at the sight of many CyberBorg, with the TARDIS’s translation circuit conveniently malfunctioning and as though they’re surprised that having landed on one of their ships that there might be a few of them on board. In rendering the CyberBorg, the artists have gone with the Borg eye-piece over a standard Cyberman shape which is fine, but doesn't live up to their grotesque potential. The artwork in general is better than usual, though it’s becoming increasingly possible to identify the publicity shots being used as reference for the Doctor. It’s the one from the 2011 annual cover! It’s the shot of the Doctor looking worried from The Eleventh Hour!

Well, I for one am desperate for this to finish, except the other night reading Allyn Gibson’s predictions, I had the horrible though that this all going to end on a cliffhanger, the final frame being the Enterprise-D in the Whoniverse surrounded by Daleks in space. Or more Cybermen. Chatting in Forbidden Planet earlier, I heard that this farrago is one of their biggest sellers and given IDW’s propensity to hammer any relatively popular idea into the ground (the many Angel spin-offs), it seems unlikely they wouldn’t return to something which is actually shifting a few issues. But are any of those buyers really enjoying this? Do they think it’s amazing? Or are they like me just wanting to see if it can sonic some deus ex machina from the incisors of a Vulcan Le-matya beast.

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