104 pages $17
I have stated before that I do not generally like licensed books. They rarely managed to capture the certain special something about the franchise that you liked in the first place. I think it is as much in the reader’s knowledge of the property as anything. Sometimes it is our preconceived ideas about the characters and how they “should” behave that ruins these books. This is one of the reasons to me that John Byrne’s Star Trek stuff for IDW and Peter David’s New Frontier series have worked so well. Much of it deals with characters on the edge of the franchise that we can come to them fresh. That cannot possibly be the case in ST:TNG/Dr. Who Assimilation2. (Wow that’s a long name) as this is a book that jumps in feet first and uses all the characters it can.
Written by Tony Lee, Scott Tipton and David Tipton and drawn/painted by Gordon Purcell, The Sharp Brothers and JK Woodward, this book’s pedigree is certainly impressive and these creators do not disappoint. This first volume of the series does good fan service and represents both franchises well. At C2E2 this year, I had a chance to speak with Woodward and see some of the completed pages he was displaying. They were fabulous and he was clearly thrilled to be working on the book. The final product shows this. Books like this involve a lot of photo reference and need a lot to look right. In all the right places, Woodward has used the perfect look of a character and they fit the appearance that the reader expects. The failing of books like this as far as the art goes is that the characters too often look so different from the expectation of the reader that we are pulled right out of the story. That does not happen in the Woodward pages. When a tight close up is not used, the shot is more loose and iconic, giving the clear impression of the character without trying to be an exact look-alike. The pages by the other artists do not fare quite as well, but to be fair it is a harder trick to pull off in solid line art. Those pages change in art fits the flashback nature of those pages exceptionally well and the surprise treat(assuming you had not seen the spoiler on the cover of the individual issues) for fans of both franchises is a nice touch in the story.
Speaking of the story, this one is a lot of fun. Both franchises feel at home in this book and the quirks of both shine through. Anyone that knows The Doctor from before the 2005 resurrection will likely be aware that the Borg from ST:TNG owe a HUGE debt to the Cybermen. Created decades earlier, the silver cyborgs from The Doctor’s adventures were scary and threatening long before even Captain Kirk’s earliest adventures. Putting them together in the same story is inspired and goes exactly as you would expect. One faction ruthless, cold and emotionless, and yet constantly duplicitous and conniving, the other cold, logical and somehow based on fear and loss, and their interaction is interesting and surprising. The Doctor and his companions are in fine form here and the TNG crew is just as I remember them. The intersection of the two universes is handled in a very TNG style, with Guinan and the Doctor being the only ones with any idea at all what is happening, and Picard a bit dubious of this fellow in the blue box. There is really no point in the story where something pulled me out as can often happen in these kinds of mashup.
I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did. I really wanted it to be great and it was much to my surprise. As a fan of both franchises since the late 70’s, this book was a treat that I don’t expect to see matched for a very long time.