It’s another book from IDW (I don’t have any connection with them, honest) this time it’s a limited series crossing Star Trek: TNG and the Matt Smith Doctor Who. With around a dozen movies and 6 TV series I am just going to assume you know about Star Trek but I suppose it is possible you don’t know about The Doctor. Doctor Who is a British Sci-fi show that is having it’s 50th anniversary this year, The Doctor is the last Time Lord. If a Time Lord is “killed” he will regenerate, getting completely new body and personality while keeping all his memories. This allows them to live for centuries and this Doctor is at least the 11th incarnation. The Time Lords are an ancient race that (as the name implies) have mastered time and travel through it, this it done with a vehicle called a TARDIS. A TARDIS is supposed to disguise it’s self where ever it goes but The Doctor’s got stuck as blue police box and he just won’t (or can’t) fix it.
The series starts off with the Borg attacking the Delta IV (remember Ilia the bald woman in the first Trek movie? She was a Deltan) but there is something odd, besides the normal Borg there are silver robotic creatures that a Doctor Who fan will recognize as Cybermen. While they look like a robot Cybermen are beings that have “upgraded” by discarding almost all of their bodies and encasing the head/brain in a Cyberbody, in the process things like morality, compassion etc. are removed. As that is going on the TARDIS hits a little “turbulence” in the time stream and the Doctor gets a flash of the Cybermen and the Borg as they arrive in 1941 San Francisco.
The USS Enterprise has been sent to help with a mining operation on a planet that isn’t all that keen on dealing with aliens and after your standard Trek style happenings several of the crew decide to relax in the Holodeck. They run a program set in (bet you can see this coming) San Francisco in the year 1941, which is where The Doctor and company really are. And in a very non-comic book turn of events they talk rather than fight, as this goes on a message about the attack on Delta IV comes in and Captain Picard asks the Doctor if he has anything to do with it. The Doctor points out that in fact he has no knowledge of Delta IV and this is a problem because he knows EVERY planet, oddly though he does recognize Worf as a Klingon in spite of the fact that he had never even heard of the word before.
As the Enterprise drops out of warp they see a massive fleet both Borg and Cyberman ships. The Borg appear on the view screen and one talking is a Cyberman with some Borg tech attached. Picard and The Doctor both feel that hauling out of the area at top speed would be the best course of action. The Doctor fills the Enterprise crew in on the details of the Cybermen and Picard uses that info to search Starfleet records for any encounters with beings like the Cybermen. And one turns up, it’s seems the “classic” (60’s TV show) Enterprise crew were checking on a Federation archeology team that were investigating an old abandoned instillation on an alien planet. At the same time a little blue box shows up containing the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker, the one with the long scarf) as the Cybermen attack. So the really cool things here are A) for this flashback the art is by the Sharp Brothers and it is in a completely different style from the rest of the series, one much more like the old Star Trek cartoon (but a lot better) and B) the Cybermen look just like the ones from the episodes of DW that aired around that time. Little touches like that really make this book great.
So at this point we are only at the third issue of the eight and that’s where I’m stopping the talk about the story, but not for lack of content, there is action and betrayal and all the other good stuff you would expect. Now it’s time to talk about the team who worked on this. The writers are Scott and David Tipton and the art is by Gordon Purcell (pencils starting with issue three) and fully painted pages by J. K. Woodward.
The Tiptons had an incredibly hard job to do, both properties are owned by people who are well lets say “protective” and it’s hard enough to do with one property so two is insane. But they nailed it, the story is pretty much an even mix of both Trek and Who so even if you are only a big fan of one of the two you won’t feel shorted. They also got the voices of every character down, both in tone and phrasing. You will hear the actors voices as you read it and as someone who reads a LOT of spin offs of sci-fi movies and shows trust me a lot of people don’t get it dead on (and some don’t even get close) and when that happens it can rip you right out of the story and it is really annoying.
J. K. Woodward’s painted pages are amazing, to be clear he doesn’t do photo-realistic work in this book but that’s a good thing. Instead of looking like somebody pasted word balloons on set photos JK gets the all the characters in a way that you instantly recognize them and gets the facial expressions down as well. The really nice part is the how his style lends its self to setting a mood that in a regular comic would look muddy or overly dark and shadowed. The parts inside the Borg ships are great, JK captures the indirect lighting on dark metal from the Trek TV show and that couldn’t have been easy.
To show the level I enjoyed this book I have bought one of Gordon Purcell’s pencil pages and one of JK’s painted pages, unfortunately I couldn’t the painted version of the penciled page but hey they are still cool. I feel like a jerk because I don’t know what to say about Purcell’s work because unlike a pencil and ink comic it’s really hard to say this part is him and this part is JK. Gordon is a veteran Trek artist and if he is at a Con near you go check out his stuff, his pages are very reasonable.
OK to sum it up if you are a fan of Trek or DW you should love this series and if you are a fan of both you should have already bought and read it! Because it’s from IDW you should have no problem finding the collected editions and they really are becoming the company that sets the standard for what a collected edition should be so know the trades are worth it.
Now for some notes, during the production of this series JK and his wife lost almost everything in Super Storm Sandy, and when I say almost everything thing I mean as the water poured in he had his wife, cat and some beer. For the whole saga go here: http://dafixershideout.hipcast.com/deluge/4cda8673-2e62-05ae-4e51-d6e6b326d00d.mp3 for the pod cast about it. Or you can just go here: http://thetaylornetworkofpodcasts.com/happy-hour-podcast/ and scroll down to the one called “JKs Day At The Beach” and a few episodes above that is a podcast with Scott Tipton & Denton J. Tipton also talking about the book. And as every time I link to the Taylor network I need to add the disclaimer “most of these are podcasts my mother should NOT listen to!” So while I love the Taylor network they do earn the explicit rating on itunes (in this case in less than 30 seconds so headphones might be a good idea) plus JK will tell stories where you think “He does know this is going out on the internet right?” The other thing you need to know is JK’s co-host Darrell was used for The Conduit in this series and it seems to have made his grip on reality weaken. If you want to so more of JK’s art got here http://jkwoodwardart.blogspot.com he posts tons of it and regularly shows how he does it from start to finish.
I assume everybody knows Trek, but if you don’t go watch Star Trek The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds parts 1 &2 on Netflix to get all you really need to know for this series. Because it’ far more likely you don’t know DW I’m going to toss a few to acquaint with it in case you want more of a feel for the Doctor. Out of the modern series watch Blink, Silence in the Library & Forest of the Dead (2 part ep) and Vincent and the Doctor (to quote cynical jaded son, if this ep. doesn’t get to you, you have no soul.) Those episodes will give you a good background in Doctor Who. If you are feeling adventurous and want to try some classic DW go with Genesis of the Daleks and The Pyramids of Mars those are 2 great Tom Baker stories. Or go for The Ark in Space, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen as they are all linked to each other in that order. Just keep in mind those were done in 1975 on a BBC budget.