Star Trek: Discovery – Adventures In The 32nd Century #1 – Comic Review

Cats and Star Trek: an association which goes back almost as long as the series has been on the air.

Just look at the original run, which saw the mysterious Gary Seven accompanied by an equally mysterious feline named Isis in ‘Assignment: Earth’. A black cat had a significant role in the story entitled ‘Catspaw’. Captain Kirk also fought off a feline/woman hybrid in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier . And who could forget Mr. Data’s faithful companion Spot in Star Trek: The Next Generation? There is even a book called Star Trek Cats.

There are many more examples of this, too numerous to list here, but it seems fair to assert Felis catus and the Federation evidently go hand in paw. Heck, with all the various spin-offs over the years, the franchise has had more than your average kitto’s nine lives, and – like them – always seems to land on its feet. The latest addition came in Star Trek: Discovery, in the form of Grudge, the pet of Cleveland Booker, the empath who became romantically involved with Michael Burnham of the USS Discovery after her arrival in the 32nd Century.

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In this new series from IDW Publishing – following the crew of the Discovery after their one-way trip centuries into their future – the premiere issue focuses on a tale (or perhaps ‘tail’ might be more apt, given the subject) involving the furriest member of the ship’s manifest. Yes, for the first time ever in Star Trek history, we have an entire adventure told from the perspective of an animal, in the process boldly going where no cat has gone before.

It may sound rather a wacky idea; after all, you only have to recall the surrealist interlude which was Bouncer’s dream in an episode of Neighbours. However, we have had different points of view used in the past for telling stories in Star Trek: look at the Next Generation episode ‘Data‘s Day’, where we saw things purely through the eyes of the android; or ‘Lower Decks’ (which loosely inspired the recent series of the same name), which centred around four junior officers, instead of the Enterprise-D’s main command crew.

New narrative twists are to be welcomed, especially in a legacy property like Star Trek, which carries the baggage of approaching 60 years with it, and runs the risk of otherwise seeming stale or retreading old ground. Having a cat as the narrator has the virtue of never having been tried. As well as giving the material quite the unexpected twist, it also injects an awful lot of fun into proceedings; something which could be reasonably argued as having been sadly absent from a lot of Discovery during its TV run.

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Despite the odd stabs here and there at lightheartedness, it must be said that Discovery has tended to fall on the side of dour, introspective, and at times terribly po-faced, wrapped up in its own self-importance. The third season did seem to show some promising green shoots of loosening up a bit, but it still has a way to go yet. Thank goodness, then, for writer Mike Johnson’s whimsical story, which cocks a snook at the crew, by having them all appraised by a rather haughty and imperious cat.

Although the hilarious character assassinations would have been enough in their own right, Grudge also gets to have an adventure of her own; while it may sound a touch fantastical or far-fetched, Johnson pitches it beautifully, and manages to pull it off with great style and humour. If the remainder of the series manages to reach this high standard, then it bodes well for a potential great success from IDW, and might even make its parent show pale in comparison.

Or would that perhaps be a bit too catty?

Star Trek: Discovery – Adventures In The 32nd Century #1 is out now from IDW Publishing.

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