Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 - Issue Four / Author: Scott Tipton, David Tipton, Tony Lee / Art: Gordon Purcell, JK Woodward / Publisher: IDW / Release Date: Out Now
The main plotline of the Star Trek: Next Generation/Doctor Who crossover comic series inches forward a little in this fourth instalment - but it’s been a long time coming and the story only starts to move after pages and pages of going-nowhere dialogue scenes - pages fly by with static images of the Doctor and co and the Star Trek crowd - now featuring Whoopee Goldberg’s Guinan just for completion’s sake - just yakking at each other. Fun, no doubt, for the writers, as they pat themselves on the back for catching the characters of the Doctor, Amy, Rory, Jean-Luc, Riker and co - but not so much fun for the reader who really wants this thing to get a bit of a shift on now. Bar one quick scene where the Doctor and co beam down to the war torn planet Cogen V this is very much all-talk/no action and it just seems not only like a frustrating misuse of the comics medium but also a serious compromise of the more action-orientated nature of modern Doctor Who with the more pedestrian tone of the Star Trek series.
Pretty much all that really happens in part 4 of Assimilation is that it’s eventually established that the Borg/Cybermen alliance - a tantalising combination of two very similar concepts which could surely have generated some genuine dramatic spark and some great visuals - has broken down. Superior Cyber technology has been turned on the Borg who have been routed and the triumphant Cybermen are en route to the Borg Homeworld presumably to carry out their own very particular form of ‘assimilation’. Trek fans will no doubt thrill to see the Borg seeking assistance from the Enterprise - and referring to Picard by his ‘Locutus of Borg’ alias - and there may well be an interesting moral debate to come about the rights and wrongs of siding with one race of cybernetic alien killing machines against another. But it’s undoubtedly a shame that, having forged together a (meandering) storyline in which these two great enemies meet and fight alongside one another, it’s been abandoned before the readers ever got much of a chance to see it in action and, indeed, its potentially-devastating consequences. Still, as a Doctor Who fan, it’s hard not to feel pleased that the Cybermen have kicked the Borg’s ass so quickly and so completely. The Cybermen did the augmented-humanoid thing first, of course, so fair’s fair…
Despite the story’s sluggish pace and reluctance to become a proper action-packed comic strip, Assimilation’s script remains snappy and its characterisations uncanny. The artwork is less accomplished this time around though; the Doctor and Picard are generally still pretty-photorealistic but there are places where Karen Gillan (Amy) fans will only recognise their idol by her ginger hair and Guinan’s resemblance to Whoopi Goldberg becomes less impressive with every panel she appears in.
It’s taken a while but the pieces seem to be in place, the battle lines are set. Time to get the Doctor and co off the Enterprise now and for the proper conflict to begin. Time, also, for Assimilation to shift into a higher gear and, instead of impressing us with its spot-on characterisations and familiar surroundings, set our pulses racing with some decent action and a bit of genuine jeopardy for our so far comfortably safe-as-houses cast. Next month, maybe?