Review: Star Trek The Next Generation + Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 #2 / Writer: Scott and David Tipton, Tony Lee / Art: JK Woodward / Publisher: IDW / Release Date: Out Now
With the first issue of IDW's long-awaited Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation comic strip mash-up having concentrated its efforts on the antics of the Doctor, Amy and Rory, it's hardly surprising that the second issue leans more heavily on the Next Gen crew in a sideline story which worryingly suggests that the strip's in no real hurry to unite its icons and get on with telling the story which is designed to bring them together.
In issue two the Enterprise arrives at the planet Naia VII (I'd quite like to find out what goes on on Naias I - VI, actually) on what Picard describes as "a routine stop-and-greet" visit to a group of Starfleet engineers who are mining rare minerals from the water planet with no assistance from the fish-like natives and with rickety technology and dodgy safety protocols. Riker, Worf and Data beam down to the planet and wander around the labyrinth of underground mining facilities but disaster strikes when it springs a leak and there's some damage and loss of life. Fortunately - and hopefully uncharacteristically (this reviewer isn't hugely familiar with the world of The Next Generation) - Picard quickly laughs off the tragedy and suggests that Riker, Worf and Dr Crusher might like to dick around for a while in a new Holodeck programme which recreates a 1930s San Francisco environment. If you've read the first issue you'll see where this is heading....
Much less action-packed than the first issue and with the Borg/Cyber alliance not even referenced until the closing panels, issue two is a bit of a place-holder, serving to bring the Doctor Who and Star Trek Universes together - it finally happens when the Doctor shakes hands with Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise and a neat gag subverting our expectations when the Doctor introduces himself and Picard responds "Doctor? Doctor of?" Emphasising the stylistic differences between the two franchises, Picard and co are fairly dour and humourless where the Doctor remains the freewheeling free spirit always ready with a smile and a disarming quip.
So while the story edges forward only very slightly, there's much still to admire in the artwork which is almost photo-realistic with consistently astonishing likeness of the Doctor, Picard and their respective crewmates and with the script capturing the personalities of the main characters with such stunning precision it's easy to imagine Matt Smith and Patrick Stewart actually performing this stuff on TV. But of course, that'll never happen which is why it's happening in comic strip form and why its writers are taking their time in getting to the meat of the story; they're clearly having as much fun creating this landmark meeting-of-minds as the readers and, with the script seeding little mysteries which are sure to be developed as the serial continues, it seems that the best is yet to come from Assimilation 2. With the introductions out of the way, let's hope that next month sees the stakes raised and the story moving into second gear. So far, so good.