Review: Star Trek The Next Generation + Doctor Who - Assimilation 2 #3 / Writer: Scott and David Tipton, Tony Lee / Art: JK Woodward, the Sharp Brothers / Publisher: IDW / Release Date: Out Now
Issue three of the Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover comics series seems to suggest that the temptation towards self-indulgence is becoming increasingly irresistible and is now in danger of dragging this epic promising Borg/Cybermen alliance down into the depths of glorified fan fiction. Of course ‘Assimilation’ isn’t designed to appeal to the casual Star Trek or Doctor Who TV audience - this is aimed at the hardcore crew - but a little bit of restraint would do wonders for a story which is taking forever to get not very far at all.
Having come spaceship-to-spaceship with the Borg/Cyber fleet at the end of issue two, Picard orders the Enterprise - with the Doctor, Amy and Rory on board - to take the only sensible option in the prevailing circumstances; run away and hide. This gives the Doctor an opportunity to become uncharacteristically (well, in his Matt Smith incarnation at any rate) portentous and fill in the Star Trek crew on the nature and motivations of his second-best enemies. A quick check reveals that Starfleet records show previous knowledge of the Cybermen, just as the Doctor has a funny turn and the core of the issue surrenders itself to a flashback in which the original Enterprise crew encounter the fourth Doctor and some 1970s style Cybermen.
This is all well and good and we can all chuckle as the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to confound Captain Kirk before offering him a jelly-baby but it’s not really getting us anywhere. The 1960s Trek stuff, with much more simplistic, primary colour artwork by the Sharp Brothers, captures the look of the classic show but the writers seem less comfortable with the original Enterprise crew who are a pretty bland and interchangeable bunch with, incredibly, Mr Spock as virtually a non-speaking extra. The fourth Doctor gets even shorter shrift; occasionally he looks a bit like Tom Baker but most of the time he doesn’t and at the end of a quick tussle with a trio of Cybermen he does the one thing the Doctor never does - he runs off back to the TARDIS. Back on the Next Generation Enterprise the current Doctor remembers something he’d previously forgotten before Picard decides to introduce him to an as-yet unseen Next Gen semi-regular and we head towards issue four not much further forward than we were at the end of part two.
Assimilation needs to get a bit of a move on now. Combining two great sci-fi franchises has given the writers a massive sandbox to scamper around in but it’s time to stop just playing with all the toys; we get the picture, you guys know your Doctor Who/Star Trek lore. Surely by now all the pieces are in place, the battle-lines are drawn. The story’s not developed enough yet to support filler material like this issue but we're still willing to give the series the benefit of the doubt because there’s every chance this could become something really memorable rather than just the fudged missed opportunity it’s starting to resemble.