Stargazer. The name of Jean-Luc Picard’s first command, as well as a rather apt description of the man himself. During the recent second season of Star Trek: Picard, flashbacks to his youth showed his growing fascination with the night sky, all thanks to his mother.
Now it also happens to be in the title of a brand new comic book series from IDW, bridging the gap between Seasons 2 and 3 of the show. A completely new USS Stargazer had been front and centre during the latest run, with Picard stepping back onto the bridge of a Federation Starship after spending so long in relative seclusion at the family winery in La Barre, France. Although not the Captain, he still seemed rather at home on the new Stargazer.
He now returns to the vessel, in a story from Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson, which has Picard being shaken out of his semi-retirement by an invite from Starfleet to accompany the Stargazer on a voyage to a world which he had protected from the Romulans as a young Captain on board the ship’s namesake predecessor. However, it seems that things have taken a turn for the worse over the decades since Picard was last there, and he has a mystery to solve.
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Beyer and Johnson definitely get things off on the right note, by showing us a very elegant, very Picard take on the classic Kobayashi Maru ‘no-win scenario’, which definitely mirrors the person whom we have come to know as being very much a man of deliberation and discussion, rather than somebody who would be more inclined to engage (no pun intended) in ‘cowboy diplomacy’. For Picard, words have always tended to speak far louder than actions.
Here, we get to see the younger, pre-Enterprise Picard, who was a little more impetuous, but certainly not reckless. The writers certainly look to have the measure of the man, and build upon the glimpses we have seen of the Stargazer-era Captain on screen. He provides a very interesting contrast with the more contemplative and introspective individual whom we have seen in Picard, someone who has been given a second chance at life, but is still wrestling with the ghosts of his past.
A nice touch is the inclusion of Laris, the Romulan aide-de-camp and confidante to the Admiral at Château Picard. At the end of Season 2, it appeared as though the burgeoning romantic interest between the pair would be given a chance to grow, but here it would look as though things are sadly no further forward, despite Picard imploring Laris not to leave. Apparently, she is still yet to boldly go where so few women have gone before.
The thinning out of the supporting cast of characters at the end of the last run looks to have been a necessary reset and clearing the decks for what lies ahead in Season 3. Another effect this has had is in making sure there is plenty of room for this story to breathe, without a surfeit of others getting in the way, and having to be found things to do. A thinned-out crew complement has certainly made all the difference so far, and this will hopefully continue.
Angel Hernandez has managed to capture the regulars well, along with being able to deliver the kinetic energy required by the main action sequence. Star Trek: Picard – Stargazer is off to a solid enough – if not yet stellar – start.
Star Trek: Picard – Stargazer #1 is out now from IDW Publishing.