Review by C.J. Bunce
The first issue of Assimilation² was a nearly perfect read for fans of both Doctor Who and Star Trek. As we reviewed here a few weeks ago, Issue #1′s introductory story focused on the 11th Doctor, Amy Pond and Rory. For fans of Star Trek who felt a little left out in Issue #1, Issue #2 was sure to satisfy your craving for more Picard & Co. In fact, Issue #2 is so well crafted you will feel as if this story is a long-lost episode of the TV series.
I’ve read a number of versions of Star Trek translated to comic books over the years. The biggest problem I encounter as a reader is with a writer fully understanding the characters enough to not only repeat words the main characters said in the original iteration of the show (which always seems to land with a thud), but to be able to understand the characters to a level of writing entirely new dialogue in the manner of those characters. In the Star Trek comic book universe this may be the first time someone nailed it.
It helps that JK Woodward’s painted panels look almost photo-real, almost like I am wearing a pair of eyeglasses or looking through a window and viewing the old TV series. It’s a strange effect, but I love it.
Like many Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, the story of Picard’s ship begins with an away mission that isn’t really the focus of the story. Here Commander Riker leads Data and Worf to a planet of amphibious lifeforms and rare minerals being collected by a Starfleet-based team. (The local captain actually looks a bit like the actor Cheech Marin in his mature years!). Upon returning, on a whim, Picard asks his team to ready the holodeck as a new Dixon Hill holonovel is available.
We’ve seen the Star Trek crew encounter sentient or near sentient beings in the holodeck before. We’ve met Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Moriarty, who actually stepped out of the holodeck. In Star Trek Voyager we met a small Irish town that became so enmeshed with the crew they seemed like series regulars. Here, the encounter is classic Enterprise-D stuff. Riker could not be written and drawn better. Data is perfectly drawn. Holodeck episodes were often the best and certainly the most fun for stories–”The Big Goodbye”–the episode that introduced us to the holodeck, won a Peabody Award. Dwight Schultz’s Barclay character had a stand-out performance as a Starfleet engineer with holodeck addiction in the episode “Hollow Pursuits.” The emergency medical hologram doctor in Star Trek Voyager had his own best performance falling for a valkyrie named Freya in the holonovel of Beowulf in the episode “Heroes and Demons.” Like I said before, they just nailed it with this story. They did so to the point that they even included an obligatory buddy Pinocchio-esque conversation between Data and Geordi that easily would have been in the series (I know some folks like this stuff but it got monotonous in the series… but I say “enough already with the android self-reflection plots”).
One thing yet to be addressed is whether writers Scott and David Tipton will have Captain Picard consider the Doctor as a Q or not. I’ve never been a big fan of the Q characters but am interested to see if this ever is an issue. Of course, Picard and the Doctor only meet up with Cybermen and The Borg at the end of this issue. The big face off, I expect, is coming in Issue #3, which will not be released soon enough for this reader. The cover for Issue #3 features Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock from the TV series era, so I am expecting some time travel.
Be on the lookout–one of my favorite secondary Star Trek characters has a cameo in Issue #2–none other than Susie Plaxson’s Dr. Selar makes an appearance with Doctor Beverly Crusher and Nurse Ogawa. (Hopefully the amphibious lifeforms will end up back on the Enterprise-D at some point–maybe in the heard of but not seen null gravity ward?). And there’s a really nice sweeping view of the Enterprise-D appearing right where it would after a commercial break.
Two issues in and it remains my nominee for Best Team-Up Series ever. Bravo!