Following the USS Voyager’s encounter with an alien vessel which was adrift in the Delta Quadrant, Seven of Nine – the former Borg drone recently rescued by the Voyager crew – has found herself becoming embroiled in a civil war, siding with the oppressed lower worker caste. However, it has not only put her on a direct collision course with her shipmates, but also placed her own life at risk.
One of the joys of Star Trek: Voyager was the opportunity for the writers to move away from the relatively safe confines of the Federation, and show some potential for real jeopardy, as the USS Voyager was all alone, being stranded some 70 years of travel away from home. It also gave the chance to depict a new set of alien species and races, quite unlike anything that had been seen previously in Star Trek. How successful it was is a matter of opinion, with budgetary and technical limits of the time being a key factor.
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This is where IDW’s series of Star Trek comics has truly come into its own, as the nature of the medium does mean that the only limit on what can be imagined and realised comes down to the skill of the artist’s pencil, meaning the scope is far less limited. Star Trek: Voyager – Seven’s Reckoning has proved to be a perfect fusion of the writing of Dave Baker and the art of Angel Hernandez, managing to bring the Ohrdi’Nadar and their culture to life in a way which might not have been quite as successful had it been on screen.
The longstanding joke concerning Star Trek is that their way of showing that someone is an alien is to give them a bumpy forehead; fans of the franchise would probably admit there is more than a grain of truth in that, at least where some of the series are concerned. On the page, however, Hernandez has certainly managed to give the Ohrdi’Nadar a distinctive look which would perhaps have been difficult to pull off and make it convincing for a TV audience; it reinforces all Baker’s work in making them feel fleshed out as a species, rather than just thin, generic cyphers.
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In addition, Seven’s Reckoning has also been able to bring to the fore the subject of the Prime Directive, which sometimes runs the risk of creating a narrative straitjacket, yet on other occasions helps writers posit some moral quandaries, where the characters have to face the challenge of sticking firmly to their guiding principles, or following their conscience. Here, Baker uses it to drive a wedge between Seven and her newly-acquired shipmates, showing there is clear daylight between them, and questioning the Federation’s stance.
Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard have challenged the rosy, utopian view of a benevolent Federation to perhaps a far greater extent than ever before, something which runs diametrically opposed to Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the future of humanity. While it does mean that some fans feel moves like this mean the latest iterations are not ‘true’ Star Trek, this also offers greater opportunities for exploration of what the Federation actually represents, and more scope for drama; Baker has certainly capitalised on this here.
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Seven’s Reckoning has given an intriguing, provocative look at moral relativism, and makes us realise that the Federation – for better or for worse – uses the Prime Directive as a way to avoid the mistakes of colonial ancestors, who forced their own culture and viewpoints onto those they encountered in their travels, with often disastrous and harmful effects. The use of Seven of Nine in her role as a relative outsider gives us a conduit to view the Federation’s apparent rigidity seeming to abandon those in need, something which runs counter to not only what Seven believes that the Federation purports to stand for, but also her own emerging humanity.
Some of the best science fiction is thought provoking, and makes us look closely at ourselves; Seven’s Reckoning has definitely managed to do this here, and is all the better for doing so. Baker has also managed to rather deftly weave in elements of the show’s continuity, such as the raven motif, which was used as a symbol of Seven’s struggles with PTSD after being liberated from the Borg hive mind. Here, Baker has provided a consistently strong story throughout, along with an ending which feels organic and fitting.
Star Trek: Voyager – Seven’s Reckoning #4 is out now from IDW Publishing.