Sunday, 30 September 2012

Star Trek/ Doctor Who Assimilation 2 Issue 5

It's getting more difficult to muster enthusiasm for these reviews as it becomes clear the series isn't headed anywhere particularly new or interesting. Add to this the frankly awful decline in the art and you find yourself in the horrible position where something you love- reading comics- is becoming a chore. But I've started so I'm determined to see it through to it's no doubt predictable end. It's easy to dismiss comics springing from TV shows as gimmicky and generally poor, but I was willing to give this a go, because the opportunity was there, like it often is, to do something special wit the material. I mean, here you have the unprecedented collision of two hugely popular, prolific, arguably seminal sci-fi shows, surely you wouldn't attempt to patronise their respective fandoms by giving them a cliched, tropey story, with the assumption that the crossover in itself is a pleasurable end. Oh, you would. You have Cybermen and Borg together: do something with it. The Doctor and Captain Picard on the same page: think of the possibilities. The TARDIS and the Enterprise- but no, those words and concepts alone are supposed to merit geek-gasms without producing anything of substance. Its a shameful essay in laziness.
Anyway, back to the comics: after learning of the Cybermen's double cross of the Borg, in the last issue, Captain Picard decided to leave the Borg to their fate, refusing to come to their aid even when they sent a request for assistance. The Doctor, never one to stand aside and watch the obliteration of a species, however bad, was not pleased. The rhetorical question was, ould he be able to change Picard's mind? He begins his attempts at persuasion by informing Picard of the Cybermen's long and bloody history, but the Captain remains unmoved. It soon becomes clear there is a deeper reason behind Picard's refusal of help than countless attacks and general enmity. His reluctance is rooted in past personal experience: of a time when he was captured by the Borj and controlled by them, as he used his knowledge of Starfleet to invade and attack Federation planets and ships, until he was finally stopped by Commander Riker and Data, who freed him from the Borj's mind-control. The art in Picard's black and white flashback sequences is probably the best in the book.
Whilst sympathetic to the Captain's experience, the Doctor again stresses the cold relentlessness of the Cybermen to no avail. Unable to persuade Picard through his words, he takes him for a little trip in the TARDIS. It seems even Picard with all the things he has seen, is susceptible to surprise on the TARDIS being bigger on the inside. A quick whizz into the future shows him what will come to pass if he refuses to intervene in the Cyber-Borg battle now. Quite simply, these scenes just didn't work: I can easily imagine them being powerful and resonant on television as Picard sees the people he works to protect and his friends enslaved and his planets ravaged by war, but they're just not strong enough here, as he gazes dispassionately from the doors of the TARDIS. Actors of Stewart and Smith's calibre help to carry weak scenes- it's why it is so important to make the right casting choice as so much depends and revolves around them. To state the obvious- comics are not TV- you need a strong story in which characters can function.
By the end of his sojourn into the future, Picard is ready to side with the Doctor in looking for a solution to end the Cybermen's terror. No doubt the final two issues will deal with how this is done. If the purpose of this series was to have the Enterprise crew, the Doctor and the Ponds on the same page, it's succeeded wildly. Anything else is up for grabs.

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