IDW’s gutsy Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation comic book crossover Assimilation2 has released its second issue in an eight-part mini-series. How is the Doctor getting along with the crew of the Enterprise-D? So far, so good, but with the Cybermen and the Borg teaming up, both the crews of the TARDIS and the Enterprise’s days are about to get a lot tougher. Check out what happened in issue#2 of this ongoing series, and what I think of it so far.
Like the previous issue, the action opens in the 24th century Star Trek universe with Data having a conversation with Geordi as to whether or not they should upgrade his systems. Geordi makes the point that while Data functions properly; there have been tons of technological advances since he was built and that maybe he could “upgrade” himself. Data objects to this on humanistic grounds because he would cease to be “himself” if he replaced everything. I suppose the reader is meant to feel an impending echo of the Cybermen and Borg desire to “upgrade” everything towards “perfection,” even if the analogy with Data getting replacement parts is a little wonky.
Next up, the Enterprise is visiting a watery planet containing a Starfleet dilithum mining faculty and Picard sends Riker, Data and Worf down to for a friendly visit. All is not well on the water-world however, as an accident ensues drenching everyone and revealing unsafe working conditions at the mine. Picard tells Geordi this is all because Starfleet is stretched to the limits with resources following the Borg smack down at Wolf 359. Chillingly, Picard even says the deaths of the workers are some kind of worthy sacrifice in the ongoing struggle with the Borg.
Then, Picard turns around and tells Riker, Data, and Dr. Crusher to test out recent enhancements to the holodeck. At this point the issue picks up where the previous one left off with Amy, Rory and the Doctor landing the TARDIS in what they believed is 1940s San Francisco, but is really the Enterprise holodeck. The Doctor is enamored by the site of Data and starts grabbing his head, marveling at the technology (this is done somewhat in the same vein as the 10th Doctor gushing over the clockwork robots in “The Girl in the Fireplace”). Riker ends the program, assuming the Doctor and his companions will vanish. When they’re still there, flesh and blood, he takes them to Picard. On route, the Doctor recognizes Worf as a “Klingon” but then reveals to Amy and Rory that he’d never heard the word “Klingon” before that day and that he’s “starting to remember things that never happened to me.”
The Doctor’s meeting with Picard is cut short as a distress call comes through from Delta IV, (invaded in the previous issue). When the Enterprise warps to the rescue they’re confronted with a fleet of Borg ships and Cybermen ships. The Doctor tells Picard they “probably shouldn’t be here” to which Picard solemnly agrees.
As I mentioned in my review of the previous issue, one of the strongest things this series has going for it is the art. A lot of times, comic books spun-off from TV shows have a “good enough” approach to the art. Here, with the painterly impressionistic style, you feel as though this crossover series is something special. And though it doesn’t really feel like an episode of Doctor Who or Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s not supposed to be. In a way, Assmilation2 is high quality fan fic, which really is what it should be. The only thing that bugs me right now is that it seems to be a little Star Trek heavy with the Doctor Who stuff taking a bit of a back seat. Sure, the Doctor is there, and the Cybermen have teamed up with the Borg, but so far, the idea of the Doctor teaming up with the Enterprise doesn’t seem all that cool. To be fair, he’s only just arrived, but I worry by having him be the fish out of water that the various voices of the Enterprise crew will drown him out.
The reason this bugs me is because the Matt Smith Doctor is, for me anyway, still somewhat fresh. I’m not saying he’s a better character than the Star Trek: TNG people, but the 11th Doctor (specifically him, not the character in general) is newish. Data and Geordi having random conversations about the ethics of cyber-upgrading is old hat. Riker is boring. Worf is a Klingon. I delt with all of this a long time ago and for many, many years. I like the new revelations that Starfleet was doing some unethical stuff in the wake of Wolf 359, but it still feels a bit like unnecessary retcon. What I hope is happening is that the incursion by the Cybermen into the Star Trek universe is some how the fault of the Federation’s unethical practices. I really like the idea of the Doctor giving Picard a dressing-down in some kind of ethical debate. Something TNG usually did well was really dramatic debate about space-morality. The Doctor is a fun foil for this because his very nature is sort of a prime-directive violator, making him (on paper) the opposite of Starfleet. Now, hopefully the plot will deal with this kind of stuff and not simply being an us versus them fight the bad guy situation.
Notably, the dialogue throughout is excellent, and at no point do I feel like any of the characters from either universe is acting strangely. All in all, they sound like themselves, which is no small feat. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed Counselor Troi’s assessment of what empathic impressions she was picking up from the Doctor. So often on Star Trek, Troi would describe random visitors like that as “he’s hiding something Captain,” but here she’s like “yep, he seems legit.” Which is nice. Even the super-stiff crew of the Enterprise-D can’t help but be charmed by the last of the Time Lords. Which is enough to keep me waiting for more.
Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who Assimilation2 #2 is on stands now with issue #3 coming next month.
Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com.