One thing you can say about the Romulans: they’re nothing if not utterly consistent.
Despite all the efforts made by Ambassador Spock behind the scenes to try and bridge the gap between the Romulan and Vulcan people, and despite their homeworld of Romulus facing imminent destruction, they’re still totally distrustful of outsiders, the Federation in particular. It seems not even the threat of your species’ and Empire’s destruction will be enough to foster any sense of amity towards those who are offering to help you.
When we left Admiral Jean-Luc Picard at the end of Star Trek: Picard – Countdown #1, he’d just found himself on the receiving end of typical Romulan hospitality from his host, Governor Shiana of the colony planet Yuyat Beta, ending up being thrown in a cell for refusing to evacuate the Romulan colonists, and leave the five million native inhabitants of the planet to die in the coming supernova. It just shows the difference between the two species, as well as the not just literal lack of humanity on the part of the Romulans.
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We know something bad is coming. Bad enough for Picard to retreat into seclusion, and resign his commission. We’ve so far had all the pieces and players moved into position by writers Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson, and now events are starting to unfold, as it becomes clear that there’s actually something much larger going on behind the scenes, and what should have been a simple mercy mission to rescue refugees from a doomed world is in fact just a part of the background machinations from an unseen hand which is seeking to manipulate events.
Picard’s been through the wringer before, and he’s had to endure various trials and horrors which would have broken lesser men: being abducted by the Borg and converted into their mouthpiece, Locutus, for one. He’s always been such a resilient individual, so you have to wonder what magnitude of catastrophe would be so great to change him so radically. Beyer and Johnson are giving out just enough information to keep you intrigued, but also guessing, as there’s still not enough been disclosed to tell you exactly how it’ll all play out.
Of course, Star Trek: Picard – Countdown isn’t just here to fill in the gaps with Picard’s own life between Star Trek: Nemesis and Star Trek: Picard, it’s also to give us some background to what the political situation is in the galaxy, and introduce us to key elements that will play a part in the new series. One of these is Picard’s First Officer aboard the USS Verity, Raffi Musiker, who will be appearing in the new series, played by Michelle Hurd.
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How much of a role in events her live action version will play remains to be seen, but as she’s Picard’s second-in-command here, you can probably expect her to have more than a fleeting appearance, as she seems be fairly central to what’s happening in Star Trek: Picard – Countdown. She happens to be Starfleet’s leading specialist when it comes to analysing the Romulans, and seeing that they’ll feature in Picard, she could be a key player. Let’s just hope she has a little more character in that than she does here, but her use of “JL” when addressing Picard is a nice bit of informality which at least sets her apart.
As anyone who’s ever seen Star Trek will know, one of its strengths is in how it discusses important social issues, and here we get the beginning of a debate about the nature of colonisation, with the Romulans challenging the humans over how they see themselves when they settle on new worlds, as well as how they’ve treated indigenous peoples throughout Earth history. It’s a pity we don’t get chance to see more of this unfold, as it’s fascinating stuff, but with only a limited number of pages and panels, you can see why it has to be curtailed in service of moving the story forward.
With just one issue left to wrap everything up, let’s hope Beyer and Johnson manage to give us a satisfying ending, and don’t just make it so-so.
Star Trek: Picard – Countdown #2 is out now from IDW Publishing, and is available digitally and from comic shops.