Welcome to the Comic Archive! There have been so many amazing stories, characters, and series produced from comic book publishers for almost 100 years now; this column will serve to celebrate some of the tales you may or may not know about. Each week, we’ll take a story arc or trade paperback/collected story from a non-new comic (three years old or further back), and discuss the details with you.
Ah, the time-honored tradition of the crossover. In the pop-culture world, it’s a way – sometimes, fun and cheeky, sometimes dubious and world-threatening – of bringing together characters, properties, or worlds from two or more franchises to let them interact, collaborate, fight, etc. It’s usually an affair to remember – hopefully for the right reasons, because it was so darned cool, but sometimes it’s for infamous “OMG that didn’t work what the Hell were they thinking” reasons instead.
In 2012, comic-book publisher IDW decided it was high time to combine two of their most high-profile sci-fi properties for a feature event: ‘Star Trek The Next Generation’ and ‘Doctor Who.’ IDW is no stranger to mashing-up two or more of their series, as they routinely do with many of their licensed properties, perhaps most infamously with 2011’s “Infestation” story arc that combined characters and plots from GI Joe, Transformers, Ghostbusters, and Star Trek, among others.
While many crossovers suffer from poor plot lines that superficially blend the characters together but in a very flimsy way, “Assimilation²” actually has a fairly solid underlying story. The Doctor (Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Eleventh Doctor, primarily) with companions Amy and Rory are on the tail end of one of their typical adventures, but their trip to their “next destination” in the time-and-space-spanning vessel, the T.A.R.D.I.S., doesn’t deposit them exactly where they had planned. Instead, they find themselves having arrived on the holodeck of the USS Enterprise-D, and the crew of the starship, under the leadership of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, are understandably confused by their arrival.
The Doctor doesn’t recognize the vessel or, really, the universe they’ve been deposited in, although he does start to get “instant memories” of people and places from this reality that he attributes to, well, timey-wimey type stuff. Not much time to fret is provided, however, as there is an impending threat of attack from the nefarious cybernetic beings known as the Borg. Much to the chagrin of the Doctor and Captain Picard, however, it’s discovered that the Borg have apparently joined forces with the Cyber-Men, villainous cybernetic beings from the ‘Doctor Who’ side of the universe.
How did these two similar factions come to meet across the multi-dimensional plane? The answer to that lies party in a fun little “flashback” sequence where the Doctor (in the form of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor) actually interacted in the past (relatively speaking, of course) with Captain Kirk, where they also ran across the Cyber-Men hanging out in this “wrong dimension.” Could this former encounter, which floods the Eleventh Doctor with more “instant memories” of the experience when reminded of it on the Enterprise-D, be the key to disrupting the unholy robotic alliance and returning everyone to their appropriate dimensional universes?
The story truly is an entertaining one, and effectively does service to both franchises without really making one feel like the “secondary” to the other. The artwork is excellent – I particularly appreciated the fact that the “main story” of the Eleventh Doctor and the ST:TNG crew was done in a very meticulous “painted” style of approach, but when the story flashed-back to the Fourth Doctor and Kirk, the artwork completely changed to something more along the lines of the retro-styled “pop art” animation.
Existing as an 8-issue tale that has been collected into trade paperback form, ‘Assimilation²’ is readily available in physical form and digitally as well. This is a series definitely worth picking up and reading, for fans of either franchise. and if you’re a fan of both franchises – well, it’s double the pleasure for you, then, you lucky reader you!
Got a comic, character, or story arc that you’d like to see covered by the Comic Archive? Feel free to list it in the Comments below or send your recommendation directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – see you in the funny papers!