Captain Jean-Luc Picard is a civilised individual, someone of culture and sophistication. His love of Shakespeare is the best indicator of this; in addition, he also has an interest in archaeology, and a knowledge of the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Alongside all of this, Picard has rather a penchant for the detective tales which featured Dixon Hill, a fictional gumshoe whose exploits he would reenact on the Holodeck.
The Captain Picard of the ‘Mirror Universe’, however, is not quite as enlightened and discerning an individual, it seems. As the latest issue of Star Trek: The Mirror War opens, we find him on the Holodeck of the ISS Emterprise-D, engaged in the visceral thrill of racing around the streets of a city in a classic high performance car, like a Steve McQueen wannabe in a Bullitt-type scenario. Shakespeare would clearly not be his cup of tea, Earl Grey, hot.
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It goes to show what a marked contrast there is between the crew we know and love from The Next Generation, and this bunch of thugs and reprobates. One of the other differences of note has been the fact that these are people of action, but not much in the way of thought. This has certainly been one of the most notable weak spots of The Mirror War, as when it comes down to characterisation, this has predominantly been showing them as being musclebound, but rather inept and lacking in guile or cunning.
This is unlike the ‘Mirror Universe’ counterparts seen in Deep Space Nine and Discovery, who had seemed to be somewhat more adept at stratagems and shrewdness. The Enterprise-D crew of the ‘Mirror Universe’ have been blunt instruments so far, having smashed their way across the cosmos, lurching wildly from one crisis to another in their distinctively heavy-handed and bungling fashion, which has come across like the Keystone Kops being in a Michael Bay film.
Thank goodness (or, in their case, badness), then, that after boldly going nowhere fast for the last three issues, the grand plan finally gets underway, and with quite the surprising lack of incompetence. In fact, it all goes so well, the reader might need to brace themselves for impact when things do start to go wrong, which they in all likelihood will, as this all feels like being lulled into a false sense of security. Captain Picard and his bunch of cohorts have not exactly covered themselves in glory until now, so this may be short lived.
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As with The Next Generation, one of the more fascinating aspects of The Mirror War has been observing the personal growth of Data, with his Pinocchio-like journey to become more human-like, and discovering his own sense of self and purpose. Here, Data really comes into his own, and writers Scott and David Tipton would seem to have a handle on his character, making him far more rounded and believable than many of the testosterone-fuelled ciphers who surround him, so his personal trajectory is not only welcome, but also a real high point of the story so far.
Four issues in, The Mirror War has found some momentum at last, and appears to finally have some sense of direction, which has been absent from much of the series to date. If this development can be continued, then it may prove to be the paradigm shift required to make this into becoming far more of an essential read than it has been up to now.
Star Trek: The Mirror War #4 is out now from IDW Publishing.