Nowadays, it does feel the de rigeur thing to have a shared universe, so that you can have lots of crossovers and team-ups. Look at the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has spent over 10 years world building, so we can see big events like Avengers: Endgame, which had many more assembled heroes than you could shake Mjölnir at.
Of course, it has followed the template established over so many decades by both Marvel and DC Comics, which set up the idea of having characters just turning up in each other’s titles. Having shared or extended universes has been seen in live action on TV as well, with Doctor Who having spin-offs like Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, leading to a meeting up in the episodes ‘The Stolen Earth’ and ‘Journey’s End’, which was quite the big deal at the time, especially as it led to the meeting of a kids’ show, a family programme, and a decidedly adult series, all in one place.
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As it turned from a series to becoming a franchise in its own right, Star Trek has boldly trodden a similar route, resulting in Captains Kirk and Picard crossing paths in the movie Star Trek: Generations, after The Next Generation had already featured appearances by McCoy, Spock and Scotty. Captain Sulu appeared in a flashback to the film The Undiscovered Country in an episode of Voyager, with that series’ Seven of Nine now a regular in Picard. TNG’s Worf would transfer to Deep Space Nine, and coming up shortly we have the Lower Decks team visiting Strange New Worlds.
At one stage, Brent Spiner had even proposed a follow-up to Star Trek: Nemesis, which would have seen a multitude of characters from across the various generations and eras coming together to battle a collection of villains, like Khan and Shinzon. Yes, there really is plenty of scope for Trek to embrace its past, different parts of its canon overlapping as the story may dictate. The comics have also explored some of the possibilities offered, in titles like The Q Conflict, and the printed form gets around having to worry about actors no longer being here to portray their characters.
IDW’s latest offering – Star Trek #1 – takes us back to DS9 some years after the final episode, when Captain Sisko went off to join the Prophets in the Wormhole, leaving his corporeal existence behind him. Now, those same Prophets have seen a brewing storm, a crisis which will need Sisko to return to the mortal realm and gather together a team that will help him tackle what lies ahead. Think of it as being like the Justice League of Star Trek, with Data as Sisko’s second in command, Beverley Crusher as ship’s doctor, Tom Paris on the bridge, and Scotty in (where else?) engineering.
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Writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing manage to get us from Sisko’s return, to assembling his crew, and straight to the thrust of the action without it seeming too rushed, but perhaps a little more time of seeing Sisko’s adjustment to being human again might not have hurt too much. One of the few criticisms is the use of a brand new style of outfit for Sisko and his team – whether or not it was the choice of the writers or artist Ramon Rosanas is unclear, but it tends to make you wish that Starfleet uniforms were just, well, what the word says: uniform.
Minor quibblings aside, Star Trek #1 gets off to a promising start, and it will certainly be fascinating to see just how the dynamic of Sisko and his new crew, aboard an experimental starship and on an as-yet undefined mission, will play out in the coming issues.
Star Trek #1 is out now from IDW Publishing.