Written by Scott and David Tipton, with art by Angel Hernandez, Star Trek: The Next Generation ‘Terra Incognita’ #4 strays away from the Barclay mystery once again for a one-off, this time centred on young Wesley Crusher.
Ensign Crusher is in a training simulation aboard the Enterprise, but he finds it lacking. Crusher tells Riker that simulations are pointless when you know they’re fake and that ‘real’ tactical training can only come from the field. Whether you love or hate Wesley, this is exactly in line with the know-it-all character from the show. You might expect Riker to disagree or chide him for not taking the training seriously, but Riker agrees that real-world training is best – and wouldn’t you know, it’s time for some of that right now.
Riker, Crusher, Barclay, and Ensign Gilson are visiting the planet Faundor, which is a new creation for ‘Terra Incognita’. Faundor is a fairly straightforward society with three separate classes: the Administrata, who are the intellectuals who form the government, the Builders, who do the manual labour, and the Caretakers, whose job is pretty self-explanatory. Faundor is technologically advanced and focused on manufacturing ships, drones and other goodies that Starfleet is interested in learning about. Of course, it is Star Trek so it can’t be a simple meet and greet on a new planet. Something goes wrong and there’s a problem that must be solved: time for Wesley to get that real-world training he was so eager for.
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As Riker is stuck negotiating with the Administrata, Barclay gives Wesley the necessary advice to strike out on his own and try to solve the problem himself. It’s interesting how the ‘Terra Incognita’ series has moved away from the story of Mirror Barclay sneaking onto the Enterprise. ‘Through the Mirror’ was a much darker series, and left the reader with the sense that the Mirror Universe characters would do harm. Even in the first few issues of ‘Terra Incognita’, Mirror Barclay was mean to his poor, frozen dopppleganger, and tried to con his way up the ship’s ladder. Now, however, he’s taking a backseat to other characters and offering wisdom when applicable. Sure, his tip to Wesley was borderline ruthless (basically do what you’ve got to do to find answers), but ultimately helpful!
Much like issue #3, ‘Terra Incognita’ #4 is a standalone story exploring a TNG character, but seemingly not contributing to an overall plot. It works: the story is fun and engaging, and feels like it could be from a TNG episode. But you can’t help but wonder where, exactly, ‘Terra Incognita’ is heading.