Two of science fiction’s most iconic franchises cross the Pond (no pun intended) to join forces in a fan-service tour de force crossover comic.
The Doctor and his Companions team-up with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D to halt combined forces of the Borg, the Federation’s most powerful enemy, and the Cybermen, one of the Doctor’s most hated foes.
At first, this concept sounds like a mad fanfiction, but it isn’t (well, that depends on your definition of “fanfiction.”) Assimilation2 (or, “assimilation-squared”) is a comic book miniseries published by IDW, which has produced comics for both franchises. It was then collected into two paperback volumes with a one-volume hardback due out in October.
Both franchises started in the 1960s with comparatively “low-budget” TV shows that quickly ballooned into institutions. Both place emphasis on exploration and adventure; both explore the human condition; and both have optimistic outlooks for the future. Indeed, despite their cultural differences, this is a, as Spock would say, “most logical” crossover.
The script written by Scott and David Tipton with Tony Lee is overflowing with love for both franchises. It features the 11th Doctor (played by Matt Smith) and his Companions, Amy (Pond) and Rory Williams. It takes place onboard the Enterprise-D sometime during the last few seasons “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Both sets of characters are introduced in their respective elements: the Doctor and the Ponds are in a high-speed chariot chase in ancient Egypt, and the Enterprise-D crew is investigating shady dealings on a Starfleet mining colony. Then, thanks to a freak accident of inter-dimensional travel, they are brought together. They soon learn that the Cybermen have traveled to the “Trek” universe and allied with the Borg to assimilate/cyber-convert both universes.
Writing such diverse, strong and beloved characters would be a daunting task, but this team does it with flair. Each character gets a chance to shine. Their interactions are amusing and exciting. Their characterizations are spot-on. The trademarks of both shows are included, such as Worf’s catchphrase, “It is a good day to die,” and people saying the TARDIS is bigger on the inside. The writers’ even show off their knowledge of both franchises by injecting in-jokes related to one or the other, such as the Doctor making reference to “bad wolf” when Cmd. Riker mentions the Battle of Wolf 359.
(This is a bit of a spoiler, but it must be mentioned).
Then just when it did not seem like it could get any cooler, the comic includes a flashback sequence, complete with different artwork, that reveals the 4th Doctor (played by the iconic Tom Baker) once helped Capt. Kirk and company battle old-school Cybermen! While this may seem like a fan-service rabbit trail, it is tied back into the main plotline.
It is unfortunate, then, that the artwork is not quite as riveting as the story. The primary artist was J.K. Woodward, with additional artwork by the Sharp Bros. and Gordon Purcell. Woodward uses a watercolor-like painted style that often is quite detailed and captures the likenesses of the characters perfectly while at other times it makes them look like almost unrecognizable caricatures, often on the same page. It is beautiful when it works and confusing when it does not. Thankfully, there are more good frames than bad. The artwork for the aforementioned flashback sequence is done in an old-fashioned style reminiscent of classic British comics. Its quality is consistent throughout, though that is helped by its brevity and comparative simplicity.
The Borg and Cybermen are perfect villains for a team-up. Arguably, they are almost the same characters. Both are cyborg races with hive-minds. Both travel the stars conquering other planets and forcing the inhabitants to join their ranks through brutal surgeries. Both also have memorable catchphrases. But Trekkers may be disappointed to know that the Cybermen eventually betray the Borg and become the central villains, thereby forcing their former allies to seek help from the Doctor and Capt. Picard. But this makes sense since the Cybermen are ambitious while the Borg are dispassionate. The Borg have no need for subterfuge because they are (usually) powerful enough to beat their enemies into submission with ease. Regardless, both races predictably end up wanting to destroy each other and use the other’s technology to conquer the universe.
Assimilation2 is an undeniably fun crossover story for Whovians or Trekkers, but it will be especially delightful to readers who are fans of both franchises. They should buy these comics immediately and add them to their libraries.
So yell, “Geronimo!” and make it so!