Here we are: the sequel to the prequel. Goodbye issue #0 of Star Trek: The Mirror War; hello issue #1. Still, the numerical oddness of this new comic series from IDW Publishing is still not the weirdest Star Trek-related thing to happen lately, given we live in a world where an internet billionaire propels a 90 year old William Shatner into the stratosphere.
Shatner certainly seemed to enjoy chewing the scenery with relish when he had portrayed the evil version of Captain Kirk in the 1967 episode ‘Mirror, Mirror’; this set a precedent for all manner of scene-stealing OTT-ness by all of the various Star Trek franchise actors who came afterwards, and got to play twisted takes on their familiar characters, when it was time to take trips back to the Mirror Universe.
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The real shame is that we unfortunately never got to see The Next Generation’s cast having chance at camping it up in the most outrageous and flamboyant manner, as they never had the opportunity to come across their own counterparts from the Terran Empire, goatee beards and all. Whom amongst us would not have loved to see Patrick Stewart really letting rip as a testosterone-fuelled schemer, rather than just that Earl Grey-drinking man of words and diplomacy?
The Mirror War gives us the closest thing we will ever get to actually being able to see that on our screens (that is unless the forthcoming seasons of Star Trek: Picard just happen to contain some serious twists). Here, Picard and his crew have machinations not just against the Terran Emperor, but each other as well, as there seems to be even less honour amongst these shipmates than the proverbial thieves.
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Treachery and back-stabbing would appear to be the stock-in-trade of this dark Enterprise-D’s personnel, and hapless Reginald Barclay – who looks destined never to catch a break in any plane of reality – has had his scheme uncovered, after having tried to usurp our Reg, and take his place in the Prime Universe. The notion of a devious yet also still inept version of Barclay is too delicious, and Dwight Schultz would have no doubt had a ball with this on TV.
Reginald ‘Lieutenant Broccoli’ Barclay was one of the ‘lower decks’-type characters (not those Lower Decks characters, mind) who always elevated the episodes he appeared in, so with being used sparingly, it was always such a treat to see him cropping up periodically. Looking for a good episode of The Next Generation? Well, if it had Barclay, then you could bank on it – even if the story itself was a bit duff, he always proved to be a delight.
A creepy-yet-cowardly Reg is a change of pace from all the other Mirror Universe iterations of the rest of the characters who are aboard the Enterprise-D, who appear to range from slutty and sadistic with Deanna, to just downright evil with, say, everyone else. It seems facial disfigurements are still the lazy shorthand for denoting a blaggard, which is a pity, but seeing as how Riker already has a beard, putting a goatee on him is simply not an option.
Frustratingly, the quality of the art by Gavin Smith is wildly variable, with the majority of likenesses being pretty much spot-on; yet, we somehow also get a Chief O’Brien who just seems to have been left out in direct sunlight too long, as he gets saggier and more melted as the issue goes on. Overall, issue #1 of The Mirror War seems – visually, at least – like a marked improvement on the prequel instalment; hopefully, the Tiptons can keep up the tale’s momentum on this year-long event series.
Star Trek: The Mirror War #1 is out now from IDW Publishing.