With Star Trek being such a significant part of the American cultural landscape, it seems rather ironic that it feels almost antithetical to their way of life. Racism, poverty, hunger: all things of the past by Star Trek’s time. Gene Roddenberry’s vision of this perfect utopia seems diametrically opposed to the continuing reality of things there, and those aspirational goals of the show feel as distant as ever.
All creeds and colours living together harmoniously, in total unity? Mankind not acting out of pure self-interest, but for the betterment of all humanity? And how about the notion of abandoning money and overcoming greed? Sounds just a little bit like that socialism they keep warning about being a potential source of society’s downfall. Yet while these are all core aspects of Star Trek, the franchise has still managed to become a significant hit in the US.
Star Trek: The Mirror War shows us a version of Trek which feels far more aligned with the values which are apparently held by some parts of American society, giving us a dystopia in which hate and prejudice run rampant, naked avarice and acquisitiveness are the order of the day, and everyone is just looking out for number one (including, fittingly enough, the Number One on the ISS Enterprise-D, Will Riker). Loyalty is a commodity to be bought and sold, and you are as likely to be stabbed in the front as the back.
Captain Picard’s lust for wealth kicks off this issue, as we get to learn more about the personal fortunes which are accrued by Imperial Captains in their lust for power and glory. When you look at our Captain Jean-Luc Picard being a civilised man of culture, the contrast with his grasping, aggressive ‘Mirror Universe’ twin is thrown into even sharper relief here, as we see him doing whatever he can to protect and add to his own personal stockpile, and just how dangerous he can become if somebody should try to steal from him.
You could imagine Patrick Stewart chewing the scenery with such great aplomb that none of the show’s set would be left unmarked by his dental imprint, and what fun it would be to watch, as well as for him to play. Here, we see a Picard who is a man of action rather than cautious restraint, and who is not to be crossed, on pain of death, or something much worse. In this latest issue, Picard has a score that he desperately needs to settle with somebody from The Next Generation’s history who has trifled with him for the last time.
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We also start to see the scope of The Mirror War expanding, as we now get other franchise elements from the same time period being introduced, such as from Deep Space Nine. In a reality where the evil versions of our beloved characters are denoted by a goatee, it feels like a suitably fitting twist that Benjamin Sisko’s beard is noticeably absent here, to suggest the difference with our established version. It also seems to indicate that something is afoot here, as he would appear to be very much in conflict with the Terran Empire.
Another welcome appearance comes in the form of Worf – here a Regent, and evidently Picard’s arch-nemesis. Due to the conflict taking place between the Terran Empire and the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance, his absence from the ship was noticeable but understandable; however, to see a Worf who has totally embraced his Klingon heritage and turned into a formidable opponent is a wonderful thing to behold, and he promises to be a looming presence during the remainder of the story, which can only be a promising development.
Things look to be shaping up rather nicely with The Mirror War, with the hints that other parts of the franchise will be pulled into the fray. After a shaky start, things now seem to be heading in the right direction.
Star Trek: The Mirror War #2 is out now from IDW Publishing.