Star Trek #3 – Comic Review

Star Trek happens to exist in a world of Gods and monsters, the line between the two often being blurred. It goes as far back as the series’ second pilot episode, ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’, in which Enterprise crewman Gary Mitchell ended up gaining godlike powers, becoming a threat to his shipmates and – potentially – to the cosmos.

There is an established history of Star Trek featuring such supposedly omnipotent beings, tending to veer towards the approach taken in other media like Marvel Comics, in which such entities are explained away as being advanced aliens. In doing so, it favours the notion best summed up in Arthur C. Clarke’s famous quote: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” They merely hail from a far higher science than ours, but are still ultimately explicable, rather than being mystical and unknowable.

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In terms of the issue of religion, the aspirational utopia of the Trek universe has shown us a society where humanity has moved to a far more secular path, steering away from a blind worship of idols, prophets and supreme beings, and ignoring divinity in favour of education and knowledge in a continuing mission to understand the myriad mysteries of the universe. Humans, it seems, have moved beyond such things, setting aside their different views on faith to come together for the betterment of the species as a whole.

At times, the franchise’s approach has been reticent when discussing certain aspects of the mythology behind some religions, such as Christianity. Take Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, where William Shatner’s original take on going in search of literal ‘God’ and instead finding Satan was to end up being watered-down, to make it abundantly clear that the entity they ultimately found was simply an alien who was imprisoned on a remote world, and merely employed the imagery and iconography of various species’ beliefs to his own ends.

How fascinating, then, for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to have focused upon a culture – the Bajorans – which, while technologically advanced, still held such a deeply-rooted spirituality and faith. It allowed the writers to explore what was a strange new world for Trek, by studying a culture in such detail, and asking some challenging questions about the very nature of religion, taking a far deeper theological approach. It was particularly ironic that one of the Starfleet crew – Benjamin Sisko – should have ended up becoming a ‘chosen one’ and messiah of sorts.

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After a slow beginning, IDW’s latest Star Trek comic series has started to gain some momentum, asking the question of what it means to be truly human, with Dr Beverley Crusher having to evaluate Sisko’s fitness for command, following a return to active duty after his spending three years in a non-corporeal state. Is Sisko – and can he ever be – the same man he once was? Sisko really has to do some soul searching, and address some questions or issues he may have been seeking to either ignore or repress, as he struggles to adjust to being a mortal, linear creature once more.

Trek is often at its best when probing philosophical matters like this, something which J.J. Abrams’ bastardised take on the original series – being full of sound and fury, signifying nothing – would do well to remember. It seems a great pity here that the storyline of this comic – with a god killer going around killing advanced beings – does bear such a striking similarity to the 2022 MCU entry Thor: Love and Thunder, as it blunts the impact somewhat. However, it remains to be seen how things will play out, and hopefully the end result will prove to be suitably different and rewarding.

Star Trek #3 is out now from IDW Publishing.

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