Assimilation2 (or Assimilation Squared, in case your monitor doesn’t render that superscript properly) is the ultimate geek fantasy for the right kind of geek: the meeting of the casts of two classic, iconic science fiction television shows. And, luckily for that right kind of geek, the comics detailing that meeting are crafted by three men who clearly love the shows in question. The result is a work that will be loved more for its small elements than for its overall story, but those who are fans of both the newest incarnation of Doctor Who – the 11th Doctor as portrayed by Matt Smith – and the 1980s Star Trek TV spin-off The Next Generation (which are probably best known to today’s Doctor Who and Star Trek fans) will love it nonetheless, just as they cherish their beloved shows despite their flaws.
The plot is simple: the Borg – a Star Trek alien collective that attacks and assimilates other humanoid races, turning them into cybernetic organisms connected to a hive mind – have suddenly acquired a new ally, the Cybermen – a Doctor Who alien collective that attacks and “upgrades” other humanoid races, turning them into cybernetic organisms disconnected from emotions. At the same time, the USS Enterprise gets a surprise visitor; a man who calls himself The Doctor appears inside their holodeck along with two human companions – Amy and Rory – and a large blue police box. It soon becomes clear that two very different timelines have merged and the resulting chaos may only be understood and resolved if the various space/time travelers can work together.
Again, the point of this graphic novel series is not so much the plot. After all, similarities between the Borg and the Cybermen are easy to spot, even for the most casual of fans, and the often cheesy qualities of Star Trek and Doctor Who have been part of the appeal of the shows since they started in 1966 and 1963, respectively. The fun lies in watching the characters interact. Fans of Next Generation and “new Who” will chuckle as the Doctor annoys Worf, examines Data, and is inscrutable with Guinan. Those who also love the original Star Trek and Doctor Who series needn’t fear, however. It turns out that the Doctor’s inexplicable knowledge of the Star Trek universe may come from one of his previous incarnations, the 4th Doctor, who makes a flashback appearance along with Kirk, Spock, and the other Star Trek legends.
Woodward takes a realistic approach with his art. His paintings are pretty and the characters do look much as they do on television. But the art is also fairly static and doesn’t have the flow and smoothness that makes a truly great comic. By the time The Sharp Brothers appear to illustrate the flashback story, readers’ eyes are happy for the change. Their more cartoonish art is no less static, but the swap is a nice touch, especially as their boldly colored drawings nicely evoke both the mid-1960s setting of the original Star Trek and the late-1970s setting of the 4th Doctor. As with Lee’s Doctor Who comics (also released by IDW), there are small bits of visual humor sprinkled throughout the book, little rewards for those who pay careful attention to the backgrounds.
By the end of volume 1, the story is dragging just a bit, focusing too much on the exposition common in Star Trek episodes and not enough on the running-away-from-or-towards-danger common in Doctor Who episodes. But fans are still likely to gobble this one up, mainly for the novelty factor, but also for the enjoyment of watching beloved characters spend time together. They’ll want to know what happens next, especially after a betrayal throws alliances in disarray. Pick this one up for your library if you have a number of teen and/or adult Star Trek and Doctor Who viewers. Even casual fans will appreciate the fun.
Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2, vol. 1
by Scott Tipton, David Tipton, Tony Lee
Art by J.K. Woodward, The Sharp Brothers