Perhaps the one thing which came away most strongly from Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery was the desire of fans to have a new series dedicated to the adventures of Captain Christopher Pike, Number One, Mr Spock and the USS Enterprise, before the famous five-year mission. Perhaps no-one could have truly anticipated just how strong the demand would be, but all over the internet, fans are campaigning for the voyages of Pike and crew to continue.
Well, IDW have boldly gone and given us the next best thing to a TV (or streaming) show, with their latest mini-series, Star Trek: Discovery – Aftermath. It picks up the story just before the very end of the final episode in Season 2, a month after the disappearance of the USS Discovery. Spock is still on Vulcan, having taken a leave of absence to try and regain his focus, so that he can rejoin his shipmates on the USS Enterprise, and resume his role as Science Officer. In the meantime, plotting is afoot on Klingon homeworld Qu’onos, as dissent is spreading where the new Chancellor – L’Rell – is concerned.
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With the end of Season 2 having left Star Trek: Discovery where it did, it means that this mini-series can forge ahead with telling more stories in the gap between here and the original Star Trek, without having to worry about impinging upon any possible plot lines or continuity that they might be looking to bring in. Unlike the recent mini-series The Q Conflict, there’s a valid reason for using continuity here, rather than just having it for rather shameless fangasms, and it ends up with there being some rather nice moments, including the very unexpected return of a character from the Kirk era, in a way that actually fits the story they’re trying to tell, and makes perfect sense to use them.
Full credit must be given to the stunning art by Tony Shasteen (with some lovely colouring by J.D. Mettler, which helps to see the mood for the different locations used, from Vulcan to the darker and more menacing Qu’onos), as the likenesses of the characters are pretty much spot-on for the most part. The level of detail on the Klingons – particularly L’Rell – is very impressive, as it would have been easy to try and cut corners for the sake of having an easy life when drawing them, yet still have them recognisable enough without actually going to the lengths Shasteen has here in getting their look just right.
You also can’t fault the characterisation by writers Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson, who’ve done a commendable job picking up from where things had been left after the Discovery travelled some 1,000 years into the future, with Spock still struggling to find his place after losing his adoptive sister Michael. He’d just about managed to try and make peace with her, after many years of estrangement, only to see her go from his life again, and the flashback we get to his boyhood on Vulcan helps show us how close they once were, rather than the more combative visions which we got in the series to illustrate their conflict.
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Pike is also perfectly in keeping with the peacemaker and conciliator who we saw in Season 2 of Discovery, trying to make inroads with the Klingons to forge some form of understanding with them, using his connection to L’Rell. We know that he will ultimately fail – although perhaps not down to anything on his part – because of where things stand when the original Star Trek starts up; it also helps illustrate the major difference between Captains Pike and Kirk, not solely in terms of the latter’s method of cowboy diplomacy, but also his total distrust of the Klingons.
This mini-series has certainly got off to a flying start, and promises great things. If Beyer and Johnson can manage to keep things moving along with the same brisk pace, and deliver more whipsmart story telling, then we should definitely be onto a winner.
Star Trek: Discovery – Aftermath #1 is available digitally and from comic shops.