The Good: Most of the artwork, Guinan’s appearance, Initial set-up, The Doctor’s “voice.”
The Bad: Flashback artwork/voice, Lack of character development, Unbelievable execution, Set-up story
The Basics: Combining two huge franchises, Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Volume 1 seems to only be the start of a story . . . and a not particularly satisfying one at that.
It’s always interesting to me to see what ends up in my blog first when I get involved in a new franchise or fandom. As I have neared the end of my reviews of episodes in the Star Trek franchise with the final episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise (reviewed here!), my wife has gotten deep into Doctor Who and, despite the fact that none have yet appeared in my blog, I have quite the cache of forthcoming reviews of Doctor Who episodes. As such, I have been branching out to explore some other Doctor Who merchandise and there is some irony that today, my fifth anniversary with my wife, that a Doctor Who-based review will be my first published review that involves Doctor Who. My first Doctor Who-based review is actually a perfect transition between the franchises (if not anything like a perfect product!): Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Volume 1.
Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Volume 1 is a graphic novel, published by IDW that was published in 2012 and collates the first four comic books in IDW’s Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who and the “Volume 1” part of the title becomes incredibly relevant as this is very much a first act . . . and a problematic one at that. Set during the tenure of the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) while Amy Pond and Rory Williams were his companions and set in the fifth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation prior to the episode “I, Borg” (reviewed here!), Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Volume 1 has a few continuity issues for the die-hard fans (the presence of a Danube-class Runabout prior to the sixth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, for example). That said, writers Scott & David Tipton and Tony Lee picked a decent place for an alternate universe story for Star Trek: The Next Generation, even if it makes little sense.
Set following the devastation of StarFleet by the Borg at Wolf 359, the Federation is engaged with a troublingly unsafe mining operation on the water world of Naia VII. Delta IV, the homeworld of the Deltans at the core of the Federation, is attacked by cybernetic organisms . . . an unholy alliance of the Cybermen and the Borg! Meanwhile, back in ancient Egypt, The Doctor and his companions foil an alien invasion that has plagued the Pharaoh. After stopping the aliens in Earth’s past, The Doctor senses that something is not quite right and he and the Ponds hop in the TARDIS to investigate. They end up on the holodeck of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D, in the wake of a mining accident, where Riker, Data and Crusher are testing a series of holodeck upgrades.
Thinking that the Doctor and the Ponds are a glitch, Riker turns off the holodeck and Worf escorts the visitors to the observation lounge. There, they begin to learn about one another and Data recovers a record from the computer of the Fourth Doctor helping Captain Kirk on a mission . . . where the Cybermen invaded a single colony. The Enterprise responds to the attack by the joint forces of the Borg and the Cybermen and there, they determine that the two opposing forces have turned on one another and that the Cybermen are headed to destroy the Borg Homeworld.
In Doctor Who there was something of a fan’s wet dream when the Cybermen and the Daleks (another cybernetic villain in the Doctor Who Universe) faced one another at last. Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Volume 1 reads like a similar bit of fanfic. Unfortunately, it is nowhere near a fully-developed story or even story concept. Most significantly, the story that focuses on the Fourth (Tom Baker) Doctor and Captain Kirk’s Enterprise seems like an unnecessary distraction. The “episode” within the storyline is presented convincingly with completely different artwork, but is a painfully simple, plot-based story that serves only to introduce the idea that a crossover between the two franchises has already happened once. In addition to being unnecessary, it completely kills the flow of the book.
In fact, the only real purpose of the divergent storyline within Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Volume 1 is to delay the revelation of the fissure between the two villains and lead to Captain Picard’s dramatic revelation at the book’s climax. But even “climax” is not the right word; Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Volume 1 is very much a first act and the story does not go anywhere so much as it sets up future stories. Even that has events occurring far too quickly; the team-up and break-up of the alliance between the Borg and Cybermen occur in such rapid succession that one has to wonder how an alliance between the two was ever even forged!
That said, Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Volume 1 is not horrible, just below average. The book does several things right. The writers get the voice of the Eleventh Doctor perfectly right (along with his reliance on his sonic screwdriver). The scene that puts The Doctor and Guinan together is brilliantly-written, justifies the exercise (much in the style of “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” reviewed here!) and shows real understanding of those two characters.
Most of the artwork in Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Volume 1 is excellent. The panels are like paintings and outside having similar artwork for Amy Pond and Dr. Crusher, all of the characters are distinctive and clearly representative of the characters they are supposed to be. The comic strip style for the flashback might make it distinctive, but it is not very good artwork. It lacks the richness and depth of the rest of the book.
Ultimately, the reader is left feeling like Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Volume 1 should have been compiled as a larger, more complete omnibus. Instead, Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation 2, Volume 1 is a simplistic, fractured beginning to a story that readers really have to have faith in the investment to pursue the second volume to.
For other Star Trek: The Next Generation graphic novels, please visit my reviews of:
The Hero Factor
The Battle Within
The Star Lost
The Last Generation
The Best Of The Borg
For other book reviews, please check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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