“Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation²” is an example of one of those team-ups where the only real surprise is that it took this long for both licensers to sign off on it. IDW clearly had great success with their recent “Star Trek: The Next Generation / Legion of Super-Heroes” mini-series, and this is following along that line of mashing up two properties, but in more ways than one.
Like the Enterprise crew meeting the LSH, Scott Tipton, David Tipton and Tony Lee start their story off by keeping the two groups of characters away from one another; the first half is about the Federation being invaded by a Borg and Cyberman joint task force, the second half a seemingly unconnected story about the Doctor, Amy Pond and Rory Williams in ancient Egypt tracking down an alien. It’s not until the final page that you finally see them meet, something that might frustrate a lot of readers. (Especially based on reactions to that last crossover mini-series, which pulled a similar stunt.)
The idea of the Borg and Cybermen meeting was one that fans were bringing up the moment the Borg were introduced in the episode “Q Who” (it’s hard to ignore the similarity between the Borg of that episode and the Cybermen), so it’s a natural fit. For now it’s underplayed, which I think is a smart thing. We get glimpses of the two races side by side, but aside from them working with one another they’re little more than a massive force marching together. That’s how both aliens are used at their best and it gives me hope for the rest of the mini-series.
The cast of “Doctor Who” is a little uneven but not bad. Rory’s been reverted to a bit of the clumsy goofball rather than the overall strong character he became, although he’s at least not all pratfalls. Amy and the Doctor come across a little bit generic in spots, but they’re recognizable. (Alas, since the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” cast doesn’t get any dialogue, we’ll need to wait until next month to know more about how they’re handled.)
Artistically, J.K. Woodward is an interesting choice for the artist. These days he’s primarily known for covers of comics as well as prose books; I know he’s done interiors of comics before (most notably “Fallen Angel” for IDW) but this is the first time I’ve seen them. Woodward’s strength in “Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation²” is that when it comes to likenesses, he’s 100% accurate. In many ways Woodward is a dream for licensers and publishers alike, because I can only imagine that both sides were quite pleased that nothing would need to be re-drawn.
The weakness with Woodward’s art, though, is one that I see a lot with similar artists like Alex Ross when they try to draw something sequential; it’s a lot of very stiff, posed positions. When the Doctor leaps over the bad guys in Egypt and shouts “Geronimo!” for example, it doesn’t feel energetic or like it’s happening. Rather, it’s like we’re getting a photo of people all carefully positioned and frozen in place, not actually jumping or lunging. It’s what makes the chariot scene particularly frustrating; this should be fast-paced and zooming around Egypt, but if you didn’t actually see the chariot you’d assume that it was a group of characters standing in the middle of the street rather than zipping along it. When the characters are supposed to be still, Woodward’s on target, but otherwise it doesn’t quite work.
“Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation²” #1 is slightly slow, both in story and art, but it’s not bad either. It’s got some good enough ideas, and I appreciate both the approach and the final page reveal. It’s going to need to get a little more energy all around, though, to keep readers beyond the second issue. There’s potential here, but we need more than potential to continue much longer.