The cross-over has been a speculative fiction tradition since at least the time of the first pulp novels and magazines. The Green Hornet radio show established that The Lone Ranger was the great uncle of The Green Hornet and had a hand in inspiring the younger hero to take up the role of an outlaw hero. Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft worked elements of one another’s stories into their own work, with Lovecraft outright saying that Howard’s Hyboria was the long distant past of the Earth where his stories took place. And of course the idea of shared universes and inter-company crossovers – rare as they are now – is part and parcel of the superhero genre and comic books as a medium.
That brings us to this series: Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who – Assimilation Squared. The longest running American science-fiction franchise and Britain’s longest-running science-fiction franchise, together for the first time. An unlikely pairing? To put it mildly. Trekkers and Whovians tend to be very different breeds of fan, though both are equal in their fanaticism. Trekkers tend to be obsessive about details and realism and knowing how everything in the universe works. Whovians, by contrast, are generally more concerned with a ripping yarn and will gladly accept a hand-wave that something is caused by time going wibbly-wobbly so long as there’s a good story at the heart of it.
However you may feel about one franchise or the other, it cannot be denied that Assimilation Squared is a good story and that Trekkers and Whovians alike will find it enjoyable. Astonishingly, so will casual readers who might not be familiar with one series or the other. The script by Scott and David Tipton takes great pains to establish the settings of both worlds before colliding them and thrusting both sets of heroes together against a common (and uncommon) enemy. Indeed, the entire first chapter of the first volume of this mini-series depicts a typical adventure of both Captain Picard and his crew and The Doctor and his current companions. The cast is fleshed out and we get a number of good character moments for all involved, allowing new readers the chance to get to know The Enterprise Crew as well as The Doctor, Amy Pond, and Rory Williams before we are thrust into the action.
And what action! The plot concerns an alliance between The Borg and The Cybermen – both technology-based species (the former from Star Trek, the later from Doctor Who) who depend upon the assimilation of organic life in order to propagate their species as they work toward their goal of universal domination. Thankfully, the Doctor’s transport – The TARDIS – manifests on-board The Enterprise as Captain Picard becomes aware of the new threat. It will fall to both teams of heroes to work together to save not only their own dimensions but perhaps all dimensions!
Fans of both series will no doubt love the interplay between the characters. The meeting between The Doctor and Guinan – The Enterprise’s mysterious, seemingly all-knowing but rarely all-explaining bartender – is quite a treat. So is trained nurse Rory discussing advancements in medical technology with Dr. Crusher. For my money though, nothing quite tops Rory’s response to Worf’s recitation of the classic Klingon saying “Today is a good day to die!”
The artwork is equally impressive, with J.K. Woodward having painted nearly every panel of the entire eight-part mini-series in a photo-realistic fashion that perfectly captures the likenesses of all the actors involved. The one exception to this is a brief flashback sequence in Chapter Five, rendered in a more traditional sixties comic-book style by The Sharp Brothers. This scene depicts an earlier story, just discovered among the Enterprise’s records, where the crew of Star Trek: The Original Series once encountered the Cybermen and a smiling, long-scarf wearing man who called himself The Doctor.
In the end, Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who – Assimilation Squared is that rarest of all crossovers – one that will please everybody. Trekkers and Whovians alike will appreciate how their respective franchises have been handled and the story, while steeped in the mythology of both series, will prove accessible to those unfamiliar with Star Trek or Doctor Who. I dare say this mini-series could create a number of new Whovains and Trekkers.
Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation Squared, vol. 1 & 2
by Scott Tipton, David Tipton
Art by J.K. Woodward, The Sharp Brothers
Volume 1 ISBN: 9781613774038
Volume 2 ISBN: 9781613775516
IDW Publishing, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: (13+)