Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who – Assimilation²

I’m a life-long fan of Star Trek, and of Doctor Who since it was relaunched, but there’s such a glut of comics tie-ins to them both in recent years that I decided not to bother following any of them. But for a crossover between the two, I figured I’d make an exception. It isn’t great literature – it isn’t even great Star Trek or Doctor Who – but Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who – Assimilation² is a fun piece of fanfic.

Yes, I realise that it’s officially licenced by IDW from both Paramount and the BBC, but let’s not kid ourselves: while it tries to insert itself into continuity, it isn’t remotely canonical, and it’s clearly written by fans, for other fans. The writers correctly assume that the reader knows all the characters, and does little to introduce them, except for a little bit of them introducing themselves to each other. (The only misstep in this respect is a four-page recap of Picard’s assimilation by the Borg… as if anyone reading hasn’t seen “Best of Both Worlds” several times.)

There are passing bits of continuity mentioned, more for the sake of the reader recognising them than because they are needed for the story. For example, when the TARDIS – occupied by Matt Smith’s Doctor, with Amy and Rory Pond – accidentally lands on the Enterprise-D, it’s on the holodeck, where a Dixon Hill holonovel is playing, resulting in some brief confusion on the part of the Time Lord and the Federation crew. The important thing for a story such as this is that the characters seem like those on TV, and the writers successfully capture the “voices” of those who get significant dialog: Picard, Eleven, Amy, and Guinan.

The crisis that brings the two sets of characters together is an inter-universe alliance between Trek’s Borg and Who’s Cybermen: two different takes on the same concept. The story suggests an answer to the countless who’d-win debates about the two, which violates the spirit of an inter-franchise crossover a bit, but the main point remains that Cyborgmen would be a Very Bad Thing.

One of the more ambitious features of the series was to use fully-painted art. J. K. Woodward does a good job of it, producing likenesses of the actors that range from spot-on to I-know-who-this-is-supposed-to-be. Woodward undoubtedly relied heavily on photo reference of the characters, and the art often has the feel of the old photo-comics made from the original Star Trek TV series.

A cute conceit was to include a flashback to Kirk’s Enterprise drawn in a more traditional comics style, in which a landing party of him, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty meet the “classic” Doctor as payed by Tom Baker. (Though in the real world, the contemporary Doctor would have been Patrick Troughton’s. [nerd emoji])

If you’re looking for the kind of great drama that a threat of this scale and a corresponding crossover would produce in the respective TV series – a “Best of Both Worlds” or “The Day of the Doctor” – this won’t satisfy that. And there’s no way that even painted facsimiles of Patrick Stewart and Matt Smith could capture the spirit of them acting together on the same set. But as well-produced fanfic, it was satisfying fun.

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