Rich Handley Author and Editor

Star Trek Comics Weekly #100

An ongoing discussion of how the comics provide prequels, sequels, and tie-ins to the Star Trek episodes and films, soon to be a book from BearManor Media. Click here to view an archive of this article series.

100: IDW Publishing (2012–2013) and Amazing Stories (2015)

Welcome to the hundredth installment of Star Trek Comics Weekly. When this column launched in May 2019, it wasn’t clear how long it would take to catch up with the current IDW run. But here we are two years later, and for those who enjoy prequels, sequels, and tie-ins to onscreen Star Trek, IDW’s been a golden gift from the Great Bird of the Galaxy.

As with its predecessors, IDW’s tenure has offered exciting storylines, beautiful artwork, and only an occasional misfire. One thing that has set the publisher apart from the rest has been its fondness for multiverse crossovers. In recent weeks, we’ve seen how IDW has paired up Star Trek with Ghostbusters, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Legion of Super-Heroes, following in the footsteps of Marvel’s X-Men team-up. Now let’s examine another such crossover—one that’s as cool as a fez and a bow tie.

Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who—Assimilation2 brought back the writing team of Scott and David Tipton, accompanied by co-author Tony Lee and fan-favorite artists J.K. Woodward and Gordon Purcell. As the title suggests, the eight-issue miniseries paired up Jean-Luc Picard with a certain enigmatic Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, on loan from BBC’s long-running science fiction show Doctor Who.

Assimilation2 may be Star Trek’s finest crossover for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it features Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, one of the character’s most entertaining incarnations. This team-up works better than others because the two shows are sci-fi-based and have compatible premises: the Enterprise and the Doctor’s TARDIS (“Time and Relative Dimension in Space”) are both space vehicles carrying curious explorers across space and time to meet aliens and save the galaxy. The pairing was thus an organic one, which is ironic since the protagonists were mostly inorganic.

The miniseries centers around an alliance—and later war—between the Borg and Doctor Who’s Cybermen. When the Borg debuted in “Q Who,” it was clear to viewers how similar they were to their British predecessors. Both cybernetic species upgrade organic beings to mechanical drones, in a process called assimilation on Star Trek and cyber-conversion on Doctor Who. Both utilize time travel and utter intimidating catchphrases. And both submerge emotions and individuality to maintain obedience and uniformity. A Cyberman even once said resistance was useless, long before the Borg deemed it futile.

The miniseries takes multiple cues from “The Best of Both Worlds,” in which the Borg abducted Picard, made him their mouthpiece Locutus, and forced him to oversee a massacre at the Battle of Wolf 359, leaving thousands of Starfleet officers dead. In the wake of that conflict, Starfleet now frantically rebuilds its shattered fleet so it can be ready when the Borg inevitably return. Unbeknownst to them, however, the Borg have grown even stronger thanks to a merging with the Cybermen, and the combined fleet has set out to assimilate and convert everyone, everywhere.

The onslaught begins at Delta IV, Ilia’s homeworld from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Woodward’s depictions of that planet are breathtaking, and it’s a shock to see Ilia’s people being killed or turned into automata. But with the Doctor’s intervention, the invasion is thwarted and Delta IV is liberated, leaving the hairless Deltans free to either enjoy robust sex lives or join Starfleet and take an oath of celibacy. It’s easy to see why there are so few Deltans in Starfleet.

The cyber-alliance is doomed from the outset, as the Cybermen betray their partners and overwrite their coding, leaving the Borg unable to resist conversion. If ever you’ve engaged in a “Who would win in a fight, the Borg or the Cybermen?” debate, you now know the answer. (Normally, I avoid such discussions like the plague, but it seems resistance is futile. Plus, I recently had COVID-19 so clearly I am not good at avoiding plagues.) After a drone called the Conduit seeks Picard’s help in stopping them, the Doctor, with companions Amy and Rory Pond, takes the TARDIS back to Wolf 359 to download the Borg’s core memory in the past and restore the Collective in the present.

Obviously, Picard is not happy about this, given what the Borg did to him, but he has little choice with the fates of two universes at stake. As demonstrated in Star Trek: First Contact and on Star Trek: Picard, the captain retains emotional scars from the mental and physical violations inflicted upon him, and they run deep. In a powerful set of panels, the Doctor and his friends witness Locutus in battle, but despite Amy’s urging to intervene, he refuses to prevent the unfolding tragedy, calling it a fixed point in time.

The interactions between the two casts are brilliant, with the Tiptons deftly capturing the voices of not only Star Trek’s Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner, but also Doctor Who’s Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. The humor is an effective combination of both shows’ styles, and the team-up begins in the most unusual of places: the Enterprise’s holodeck. While attempting to visit 1941 San Francisco, the Time Lord and his friends instead end up aboard the starship, inside a Dixon Hill holoprogram (“The Big Goodbye”).

Since the program matches the setting of their intended target, the time travelers fail to realize they’re inside a simulation, though the Doctor recognizes Data as an android and Worf as a Klingon despite being new to this reality. The explanation for this harkens back to “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” for the Doctor, like Guinan, can sense changes in history and knows when something isn’t right. Things have changed, and he instinctively sees those changes and thus can recognize Soong-model androids and Klingons.

Picard takes the Doctor to meet the El-Aurian, and together the two ancient, wise aliens suss out the nature of the problem. The Enterprise disables the cyber-fleet with gold dust, as the cyborgs have a fatal aversion to even the tiniest quantity, begging the question of why they never take precautions to avoid contact with the metal if it’s their Kryptonite. I dissolve in acid, so I make sure never to dip myself in it. I am smarter than a Cyberman.

Naturally, the Conduit tries to assimilate the TARDIS as soon as the crisis has passed. Picard and the Doctor somehow don’t see that double-cross coming, but they really should, because this is the Borg and that’s what they do.

The final chapter contains an emotional nod to Deep Space Nine. Following the assimilation and death of his friend Marcus Bertrand (the man behind the Conduit), Will Riker sadly views footage of himself and his pal performing jazz at Sisko’s Creole Kitchen during their younger days. The restaurant, located in New Orleans and owned by Joseph Sisko, was mentioned in “The Visitor” before making its debut in “Homefront.” Riker’s love of jazz, of course, has been a staple part of his character going back to The Next Generation’s first season, in “11001001.”

The concluding sequence foreshadows First Contact, with the Borg seeking to develop time travel, which they would use in the movie to prevent the Federation’s existence. Intrigued by the Doctor’s temporal abilities, the Collective begins working toward mastering such travel so they can assimilate species in multiple realities, including the Time Lords themselves. In other words, the film’s events are the Doctor’s fault. If only he’d taken Amy Pond’s suggestion.

Assimilation2 was not the first WhoTrek team-up, nor the last, but it was the only one authorized for publication. Jean Airey’s unlicensed The Doctor and the Enterprise (1981) featured Jim Kirk’s crew meeting Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor, and you can read an excellent account of its history in this TrekMovie article by Mark Martinez. The short novel first appeared in the fanzine R&R XIII, then in Zeta Minor Special Edition, before being serialized in Enterprise magazine and eventually released as a standalone book from both New Media and Pioneer. Kirk and the Fourth Doctor briefly meet in Assimilation2 as well, during an encounter with the 1970s Cybermen.

The Doctor and the Enterprise is an enjoyable read if you can find a copy. Three decades after its release, fans were treated to the similarly named A Doctor for the Enterprise, an unauthorized comic written by “The Trouble with Tribbles” scribe David Gerrold and illustrated by Troy Boyle and Jeff Austin. Though announced in 2013 by Amazing Stories publisher Steve Davidson, back when Assimilation2 was still hitting stands, the comic didn’t come out until two years later due to delays behind the scenes.

This retelling of “The Trouble with Tribbles,” but with Doctor Who’s eponymous hero added to the mix, was billed as a parody to avoid any Imperial entanglements, as Ben Kenobi might say, and it crossed over with not only the BBC show but also CBS’s The Big Bang Theory. Spearheaded by Experimenter Publishing Co. and DG Publishing, and based on a script Gerrold had written years prior, the one-shot was published as a limited-edition, autographed collector’s print run of 500 copies, produced by Florida-based Dolphin Printing.

A Doctor for the Enterprise sees the TARDIS materializing aboard Kirk’s starship. David Tenant’s Tenth Doctor accompanies the crew to Deep Space Station K-7, where Cyrano Jones sells tribbles to Uhura and Chekov, just like on TV. Once again, the animals infest the station and the starship, then the Doctor travels to Koloth’s vessel, retrieves the furballs Scotty had beamed over, and transfers them to a Dalek ship, where they prove to be no tribble at all… until the Daleks decide to exterminate them. In the end, however, it’s all just a dream in the mind of Big Bang’s Sheldon Cooper. Bazinga!

Next week, we’ll return to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek for more of IDW’s ongoing monthly comic. Along with spotlights on the Kelvin timeline’s McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and even Keenser, this batch reimagined a classic episode already set in another reality—that’s right, it’s the mirror universe’s mirror universe. It’s “Mirror Mirror” both figuratively and literally, and it offers much on which to reflect.

Looking for more information about Star Trek comics? Check out these resources:

Rich Handley has written, co-written, co-edited, or contributed to dozens of books, both fiction and non-fiction, about Planet of the Apes, Watchmen, Back to the Future, Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, Stargate, Dark Shadows, The X-Files, Twin Peaks, Red Dwarf, Blade Runner, Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman, the Joker, classic monsters, and more. He has also been a magazine writer and editor for nearly three decades. Rich edited Eaglemoss’s Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection, and he currently writes articles for Titan’s Star Trek Explorer magazine, as well as books for an as-yet-unannounced role-playing game. Learn more about Rich and his work at

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