If at first you don’t succeed, Troi, Troi and Troi again.
During the Star Trek: The Mirror War series, there have been several cutaway issues, focusing upon individual characters – Data, Geordi LaForge, Benjamin Sisko, and now Deanna Troi. Each of these have given readers a welcome pause from the main action, as well as providing us with valuable insight into the motivations and inner workings of each one of these characters.
Whereas in the ‘Prime Universe’ our Deanna Troi was known for being ship’s counsellor, using her natural telepathic gifts to help with maintaining the psychological wellbeing of her crewmates, the ‘Mirror Universe’ version seeks to use them only to further her lust for power and glory. Installed as the Inquisitor aboard the ISS Enterprise-D, this Troi has proven herself to be a worthy adversary and a master manipulator, with her skills giving her an advantage.
In Star Trek: The Mirror War – Troi, writer Marieke Nijkamp takes us back into Troi’s past as Administrator on her home world, Betazed. Thirsting for more control and authority, a visit by the ISS Stargazer gives her the ideal opportunity not just to wipe out troublesome insurrectionist forces who are defying her will, but also to inveigle her way onto the vessel. In doing so, Troi can use this as a platform for advancing her own ambitions, by taking her far beyond the confines of her planet, and into the wider cosmos.
Nijkamp takes his opportunity to show us what a formidable adversary this iteration of Troi can be, appealing to the ego and arrogance of Picard, saying precisely what he wants to hear and subtly pulling his strings, while planting the seeds of showing how invaluable an asset she could make herself, all the while acting out of pure self-interest. Unlike in The Next Generation, where that Troi was a carer and empath, here we have a woman who is completely cold and ruthless, truly a smiling assassin.
Showing us takes on familiar faces where we see what could have happened if they had taken a dark path is a great way of appreciating the versions we know and love. Seeing Troi as a callous, power-hungry bitch is a shock to the system, even moreso than in the other issues of the Mirror War series, as her desire for conquest and control has only been hinted at, or shown very lightly in comparison to what we get here. By the end of this issue, there can be absolutely no doubt as to how skilfully Troi has managed to play a long game, making sure everyone underestimates her.
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The artwork by Megan Levens does a great job of capturing everyone’s likenesses, and it also manages to be a cut above what we have seen elsewhere in the series. One of the worst failings has been to show the tyrannical Picard as being just a musclebound, angry, shouting thug, rather than giving him some texture and variety. Here, Levens has made him seem less caricatured and one-dimensional, making him appear a far more credible figure in the process. More of Levens’ work would be very welcome indeed.
Star Trek: The Mirror War – Troi is a truly superlative effort, working both as a standalone issue, and adding more depth and context to the overarching story.
Star Trek: The Mirror War – Troi is out now from IDW Publishing.