Review by C.J. Bunce
Waiting and waiting for IDW Publishing’s extraordinary crossover of Star Trek and Doctor Who, Assimilation², I actually missed the release and finally picked up my copy, which was already in its second printing. Everything seems to go to second printing these days because it’s a pretty predictable task for the distributor to know how much of what will sell based on comic store orders. Still–an initial sell-out and in-demand second printing reflects the big fan bases out there that are Star Trek and Doctor Who, the Trekkies and the Whovians, as stated on our member badges.
If you love the current Matt Smith and Amy Pond Doctor Who, you will love Assimilation². If you are a Trekkie, Issue #1 will have you adding Issue #2 to your comic book pull list.
To get it right, any adaptation of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who must have his banter right. It must show Amy Pond as curious and inquisitive and hesitant. It must show husband Rory as protective and cautious. And it must break out of the comics page with a crazy opening action sequence, closing out some prior grand, epic, historic adventure. And include the ludicrous blue phone box called the TARDIS and those evil, stilted cyborgs called the Cybermen.
Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. And… check.
This is the crossover to rival all crossovers. Believe the hype. And it is pretty much perfect. Actually I’d call it perfect but I’m sure there is something not perfect and I am just ecstatic they got it so right–I guess they have two of the big three genre franchises and adding a Star Wars element may just cause the world to explode. Someone who gets Trek and Who? They’re writers Scott Tipton, David Tipton and Tony Lee and artist J.K. Woodward.
Let’s start with the writing. First, since this is an ongoing series focusing on Doctor Who’s 11th Doctor and Star Trek: The Next Generation, there will be a lot to cover, and so Issue #1 features only minimal Next Generation content. But where the Doctor will meet Lieutenant Commander Data and Commander Riker is one of the best lead-ins/cliffhangers to a next issue I have seen in years. If you have seen the Emmy Award winning Next Generation episode “The Big Goodbye” you’ll have an idea of what I am talking about.
The series opens with a visit to a place Star Trek: The Motion Picture fans, and specifically fans of the Deltan named Ilia, will find a refreshing place to start–Delta IV. Bombarded by The Borg of Next Generation, Voyager, and First Contact fame, a Federation officer realizes they have partnered with another cyborg entity, and unlike past visits from The Borg, these borg aren’t just assimilating, they are annihilating. A Cybermen partnership with The Borg? Perfect.
Next we land smack dab in the middle of an ancient Egyptian adventure with rip-roaring action, the Doctor, Amy, Rory, a pharaoh, and an alien visitor. Team Tipton and Lee do exactly what they need to and get the personalities and banter just right. They leave for their next adventure, which will pick up in a very familiar place for Next Generation fans in Issue #2. And look for a few “Easter eggs.” Bravo!
Now to artist J.K. Woodward. If you’re going to have a breakout work this is the place to do it, and I will go so far as to say his work on Issue #1 rivals Alex Ross’s painted art in his Uncle Sam series. It may even be better than the paint work on Ross’s Marvels series. It’s not as detailed to be sure, but his renderings of actors gives us more than enough to let us slide right back into watching old Next Generation episodes and the next season of Doctor Who. Woodward also does something you don’t see every day–action sequences in a completely painted tale that are beautiful and interesting. His Delta IV looks how you might have imagined it. His 1940s era San Francisco seems so, so familiar you’ll feel like you’ve been there before.
Tipton, Tipton, Lee and Woodward make it look easy. But if you’ve read a lot of genre property spin-offs, you know that Star Wars writers cannot get away from having Luke and Han repeat ad nauseam “I have a bad feeling about this.” Look for none of that in Assimilation² Issue #1. These guys got it right. Let’s hope these guys keep up the momentum in Issue #2 and the rest of the series.