Multiverses seem so de rigeur these days. With both Marvel and DC having used the concept in their comics for decades, they are now starting to bring this idea into their live action adaptations – from DC’s TV Crisis On Infinite Earths event, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Loki and What If…? on Disney+, it seems that alternate realities are hot properties right now.
Step forward, Star Trek, which asks you to hold its Romulan Ale, having first brought parallel universes to a mainstream audience in 1967, with the episode ‘Mirror, Mirror’ featuring several of the crew from the USS Enterprise switching places with evil doppelgängers from another reality. Although this concept was only featured once in the classic series, it seems to have gained traction in popular culture.
For example, Mr. Spock’s ‘Mirror Universe’ equivalent had a goatee, which has become a convenient visual shorthand for parallel versions of characters which have ill intent. An early South Park episode – ‘Spookyfish’ – had all the interlopers sharing the Vulcan’s distinctive facial hair; in Community, it was an Evil Abed from the ‘Darkest Timeline’ who sported a goatee. There even happens to be a band going by the name Spock’s Beard, although none of the members seem to have donned that particular face furniture.
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In a direct inverse to DC and Marvel, Star Trek took its Mirror Universe from live action over to comics, exploring the idea in that medium, as well as in books. It was only in the 1990s that TV Star Trek went back to the Mirror Universe, in Deep Space Nine, and since then, the notion has been explored on screen in both Enterprise and Discovery. In addition, IDW has taken us back through the mirror crack’d, with Voyager’s Mirrors And Smoke, and in The Next Generation’s Through The Mirror and Mirror Broken.
Writers Scott & David Tipton are delivering us more exploits of the ISS Enterprise-D and its crew with The Mirror War #0, the prelude to a year-long comic event, pitting them against their Prime Universe counterparts in a battle for supremacy. Here, we join the Terran Empire from the Mirror Universe in a state of some disarray, having taken heavy losses against the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance, with the Empire fighting hard to regain its status. Their Captain Picard has just returned to the Mirror Universe, having tried to commandeer the Prime Enterprise-D in Through The Mirror.
Having failed in his mission, Picard finds himself firmly on a collision course with the court of the Emperor, who seek to keep him in his place, after not delivering upon what he had promised. However, Picard finds himself increasingly angry at what he perceives to be weakness at the very top, and sets about finding a means to assert his dominance, with his goal being to take the throne for himself. In order to do so, Picard will have to face himself again, setting his crew on a path to all-out cross-dimensional conflict.
Our familiar Captain Picard is renowned for being more of a thinker than a man of action, more inclined to jaw-jaw than war-war, and a marked contrast to Captain Kirk. However, it must be said Picard has still seen his fair share of action, such as in the TV episode ‘Starship Mine’ and the movie Star Trek: First Contact, we got to see a more ‘Die Hard Picard’ than we were used to. For our Mirror Universe Captain, however, this is his default setting, and he is very much someone far more inclined to shoot first and ask questions later.
Aside from some of the likenesses being rather variable and dubious at times, Carlos Nieto’s artwork also presents us the unintentionally hilarious sight of everyone being particularly musclebound, as if all the characters have stepped out of the pages of a superhero comic. While you do obviously need to have some contrast with the more familiar iterations, having them all look like ‘roided-up musclemen is perhaps taking it a little too far, and hopefully that will settle down – or at the very least be less glaring – as the series progresses.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Mirror War #0 is out now from IDW Publishing.