Star Trek: Boldly Go issue #16 is the fourth part of the six-part I.D.I.C. arc, and this could have been the spot where things start to drag or go off the rails. Instead, Part 4 escalates the story and adds a new mystery into the mix, making the reader even more excited to see where this is going.
We have an unknown narrator now, briefly introduced at the end of the last issue but still unexplained. The narrator, who knows their identity remains a mystery to us, is describing fixed points that stay the same in a person while everything else changes, as we watch three sets of our crew tackle different problems.
Regular Kirk manages to escape Khan’s lair and sets off with female-Checkov, droid Sulu and Grayson to escape.
Female Kirk sees the Romulans are coming to destroy Vulcan and sets off to save the planet like in the other timelines.
Plant Kirk thinks there’s nothing to do but wait, and sets off with some alien women to get acquainted. In this Kirk’s defense, he does seem to be on a party-orgy planet with no immediate threat, whereas the others are in life or death peril.
The mysterious narrator tells us these three scenarios highlight the three personality traits that will always define Kirk — brave, trusting and charming. He charms his way into bed with the plant women, she bravely runs into battle with the Romulan, he trusts the man who just tried to kill him will now want to work together.
And these traits, our narrator tells us, is what will always get Kirk killed: Grayson betrays them all to Khan, the Romulans easily defeat Starfleet, and the alien orgy turned out to be a set-up. It’s a “no-win scenario.”
And that’s how the issue ends, with three Kirks (and some crew) dead, and our mysterious narrator mocking us. There’s still no explanation into how this event has occurred, or why. We’re not any closed to figuring it out our getting back on track — if anything, we’re further away, with our main-story Kirk one of the causalities. It’s a bold move to pull this far into an arc, but it pays off. It’s a striking, memorable ending with panel after panel of Kirk dead and only the words “no-win,” and it adds to the mystery of what could happen next.
What will happen next? With only two issues left in this arc, the next ones really have to focus on story-telling to create a satisfying conclusion. So far, we’ve had pretty inventive character work to see how slight differences can change (or not change!) a person’s core, but there hasn’t been a lot of plot to back it up. While this issue was well-executed and threw the readers for another loop, the next needs to start diving into the who and the why of the story if we want to wrap this up well. Who is our narrator, did they create this alternate universe mash-up, and why? That’s what we need to know in order for this I.D.I.C. story to really the nail the landing.
Part 4 may not have furthered the plot, but it’s still a high point in the story so far.