Things certainly get off to an explosive – almost literally so, in fact – start in the brand new issue of Star Trek: Picard – Stargazer, with the titular starship in a firefight against the Romulans above the planet Jenjor VI.
Artist Angel Hernandez knows how to capture the vibrant, kinetic energy of a dogfight, helped by all of the colour work provided by J.D. Mettler, making the visuals pop throughout the entire issue, as well as the mini-series as a whole. If only the resolution to the story had lived up to the art, as things do tend to feel a little flat after such a promising start in the first two issues. Maybe the writers Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson could have used a little more ingenuity to stop this climax feeling a bit overfamiliar.
Since events after Star Trek: Nemesis, with the destruction of their home planet, the Romulans are virtually the status of refugees, finding their standing lessened as they struggle to maintain their influence, while also trying to survive. The first two seasons of Star Trek: Picard have touched on this, showing the shift in the balance of power after Romulus was engulfed by a supernova, a fate which Spock tried to avert in 2009’s Star Trek reboot, giving rise to the alternate ‘Kelvin’ timeline on the big screen.
Here, we see the Romulans being much reduced in status, a relatively old vessel with a skeleton crew going toe-to-toe with the USS Stargazer, but still managing to hold its own in a creditable manner, while also reflecting that the glory days are now well behind them. Interestingly, the two traditional main adversaries of the Federation – the Klingons and the Romulans – have followed similar trajectories, with both of them facing calamitous and critical situations which end up altering the status quo.
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The Romulans, however, are still not quite ready to sue for peace, it seems, and the old animosities evidently die hard, particularly when it turns into a bit of unfinished business for Admiral Picard. Anything to do with the Romulans is a very personal matter for Picard, having not only been part of Spock’s reunification efforts, but also having spearheaded efforts to try and save as many Romulans as possible with a rescue fleet being dispatched, only to find his efforts having been thwarted.
In trying to wrap up all the various plot threads, it does feel as though the climax is a little rushed, and perhaps a further issue would have benefited the story greatly. For example, it seems the surface has barely been scratched when it comes to the character of Reska, and while we do get some hints of what her life was like, it might have helped flesh things out by seeing more of her formative years on Jenjor VI, turning her into the rather vengeful, angry figure we encounter. The big about-face also seems to occur just a little too quickly to be entirely satisfying or convincing.
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By the very end of the issue, it becomes clear that this story has been something of a palate cleanser before reaching the main course of Picard’s third season, with some wheels to be set in motion for what is coming up. This comic has not quite managed to stand up as being a story in its own right, more a way of putting all the pieces in place, especially where Seven of Nine is concerned, as she starts to come to terms with the possibilities of working more closely with Starfleet. There is a nice, unexpected cameo appearance, which almost makes up for some of the issues with this finale, but ultimately the story needs far more than just fan service.
Overall, Star Trek: Picard – Stargazer has tried its hardest to be a worthy endeavour, but the whole has mostly failed to be greater than the sum of its parts, which is a real shame.
Star Trek: Picard – Stargazer #3 is out now from IDW Publishing.