Perhaps buoyed by the surprise success that was the very entertaining Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes comics crossover mini-series, IDW Publishing announced last month their plans to bring Doctor Who to the final frontier. Assimilation2 will unite the Eleventh Doctor (as portrayed by Matt Smith) and the crew of Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s Enterprise in a special eight-issue event beginning in May. As if that’s not enough, the adventure promises to bring together popular adversaries from each franchise: the Borg and the Cybermen.
Somebody pinch me! Yes, I admit that crossovers in general often can be something of a goofy notion, with the level of absurdity depending upon the uh crossed parties, but it’s not like we’re talking about Dexter and My Little Pony here. Star Trek and Doctor Who at least are in somewhat co-located wheelhouses, right? I mean, has this actually happened before?
While this will be the first officially-sanctioned meetup ever of the two properties—facilitated by IDW’s current licenses to publish comics based on both shows—Trekkies and perhaps the more diehard Whovians know that there have been a few scattershot nods to the Doctor in the occasional Star Trek episode or novel over the years. Engineers sometime employ a sonic screwdriver when they think no one’s looking, and sharp-eyed readers may catch an oblique reference to a mysterious time-travel device that sounds an awful lot like a familiar police call box. One of my favorite references is from an older Star Trek novel, My Enemy, My Ally written by Diane Duane and published in 1984. The book contains a scene depicting Enterprise crewmembers engrossed in watching a holographic story featuring what can only be Tom Baker’s Doctor, scarf and all.
Star Trek also has received the occasional salute in the more recent Doctor Who series, such as Rose referring to the Ninth Doctor as “Spock.” There also was word that producer Russell T. Davies had during his tenure on the show explored the possibility of an on-screen crossover with Star Trek: Enterprise, which still was in production at that time. Putting on my fanboy hat here for a second, I have to say that this might well have been insanely cool. I would’ve loved to see Christopher Eccelston’s Doctor crossing paths with Captain Archer and his crew. And since we’re here: who else thinks a Star Trek/Torchwood crossover has any potential? Anyone? Bueller?
Looking elsewhere, longtime fans of either property almost certainly are aware of Jean Airey’s fanfiction story The Doctor and the Enterprise, which featured Tom Baker’s Doctor running into Captain Kirk’s Enterprise. I remember reading this story in the early 1980s, when it was published in serial form in a long-defunct fanzine. That version later was collected into a trade paperback, as well as a pretty shoddy knock-off version in which the names of the characters, ships, equipment and so on were renamed in the hopes of avoiding the ire of the BBC or Paramount Pictures.
So far as comics go, I’ve always felt that the original Star Trek series has been the one which best translates to that medium, perhaps owing to its roots in 1960s television with its bolder colors and greater emphasis on action-adventure. Because of this, I enjoyed the heck out of Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes, and dang near every page made it obvious that the writers and artists were having a field day with the whole thing. Still, there was something of a “firestorm of outrage” which sprang up in response to that mini-series. Some segments of fandom even argued that such a crossover was a disservice to the reputation of both properties.
“BAH!” I say! Embrace the frivolity! Personally, I don’t think Star Trek shows its whimsical side enough for my tastes. I find it hard not to laugh whenever someone states that Star Trek is “above” this kind of thing, and should instead be treated with more respect. Please. Space Hippies. Space Nazis. Gangters. Giant Green Hands. Lobotomized Zombie Spock. Trek definitely has its silly side, too. Hey, it’s supposed to be fun, so I’m always happy when something unorthodox like this comes along, be it comics or something else. For example, I still chuckle at the reactions garnered from the announcement that Hasbro would be producing Star Trek-themed Mr. Potato Head figures. Good times, those.
As for IDW’s new venture, responses—particularly online—once again have varied from unfettered enthusiasm to cautious optimism to utter loathing. In other words, a typical day on the internet. Me? I say, “Bring it.” Despite my preferences for other incarnations of the Doctor and the original Star Trek series over its successors, I’m still a fan of both properties and intrigued by the premise of this story. Should we start a pool on how many times the Doctor will poke some of the air out of the uber-serious Captain Picard?
Now, if IDW could just get on with breathing some life into my personal dream project of crossing Star Trek with the Green Lantern Corps, I could die a happy fanboy. And if they really, really wanted to stir up some trouble, they could always find a way to bring back this gem of mashup goodness:
Heck, I’d even write the thing, for nothing more than the satisfaction of having triggered countless faneurysms.
Who’s with me?
This article, in somewhat altered form, originally appeared as an entry on my own blog during February 2012, and has been updated for presentation here.
Dayton Ward is the author or co-author of numerous novels and short stories, including a whole bunch of stuff set in the Star Trek universe, and often working with friend and co-writer Kevin Dilmore. He’s also written (or co-written) for Star Trek Communicator, Star Trek Magazine, Syfy.com, and Tor.com, and is a monthly contributor to the Novel Spaces writers blog. As he still is a big ol’ geek at heart, Dayton is known to wax nostalgic about all manner of Star Trek and other topics over on his own blog, The Fog of Ward