Star Trek has been renowned for being able to predict some of the advances in technology we now take for granted. Just look at mobile phones, for example, which would appear to have been foreshadowed by handheld communicators used in the original series.
Other examples of tech seen on screen which has later come to life are things like floppy discs and touchscreen tablets. It would, however, appear we are still quite some way off from having transporters, food replicators, or – thankfully – what is perhaps one of the most prone-to-malfunction bits of kit in the whole of Starfleet: the Holodeck. Yes, for as long as we have had them included in Star Trek, we have also had many stories where something has gone badly wrong, turning that recreational facility into a potential deathtrap on too regular a basis.
READ MORE: Doctor Who Am I – Documentary Review
Some of the best episodes in the franchise have taken place in a Holodeck. Look at Deep Space Nine’s Bond spoof, ‘Our Man Bashir’, or Voyager’s ‘Bride Of Chatotica!’, to name but two such examples. One of the best loved ‘faulty Holodeck’ tales in Trek’s history would be The Next Generation’s story ‘Elementary, Dear Data’, which saw a hologram recreation of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty gain sentient thought and become a threat to both the ship and the crew, with a return engagement later solidifying his status as one of Trek’s all-time great villains.
With Star Trek: Lower Decks, our mid-level heroes tend to idolise great Starfleet figures from various eras, and speak about them with the kind of reverence usually reserved for fans of the franchise. Yes, the lower-status characters from the USS Cerritos are decidedly fanboys, girls, and others. It’s therefore perhaps understandable that they would end up getting into similar sorts of scrapes as the heroes that they so worship, and it was only a matter of time before Holodeck shenanigans would unfold once again.
In IDW’s Star Trek: Lower Decks comic. the brave underdogs of the Cerritos have ended up ‘doing a Moriarty’, creating a digital foe who has gained self-awareness, and been pulled from the pages of classic literature. This time, we have the Prince of Darkness himself: Dracula. Writer Ryan North has steered clear of some of the more recent interpretations of the vampiric Count, and given us a far more traditional take, from the mould of Bela Lugosi‘s peerless, classic version of the character.
Yes, this is a very familiar iteration of Bram Stoker’s famed creation, complete with the accent. Consider poor Chekov, who was cursed with saying all his letter ‘v’s like ‘w’s; here, we have the direct opposite, with a Dracula who definitely vants to be the best vampire he can. Given his sentience, it seems that he may not be the threat that everyone feared following his initial appearance in issue #1. For a vampire, however, this Dracula is unusually good at self-reflection, and he has the chance to search whatever might pass for a soul.
Meanwhile, in the ‘B story’, Captain Freeman finds herself caught up in a situation which has started to seriously go south. Instead of doing a run-of-the-mill second contact with the Qvanti people, Freeman is instead stuck – along with Doctor T’Ana and Lieutenant Shaxs – confronting the wrath of the populace. Breaking with the usual diplomatic norms and protocols, where strict adherence to the Prime Directive is treated as sacrosanct (unless the plot demands otherwise), it quickly becomes a ‘fist contact’, all thanks to the efforts of Shaxs.
IDW’s Lower Decks comic continues to be an awful lot of fun, continuing to tweak the nose of Star Trek convention, while also ramping up the stakes with a ‘double jeopardy’ situation building up nicely in a cliffhanger ending. Unlike Dracula, so far this doesn’t at all remotely suck.
Star Trek: Lower Decks #2 is out now from IDW Publishing.