Star Trek #4 – Comic Review

Having spent the last issue as something of a sidestep, with the clearly anticipated appearance of Q resulting in a life-or-death challenge for the crew of the Starship Theseus in order to prove their worthiness for the task at hand, IDW’s boldly (on)going Star Trek comic series gets things firmly back on track with trying to find those responsible for the summary extermination of numerous higher beings across this plane of reality.

This endeavour poses a challenge in more ways than one for Captain Benjamin Sisko, whose recent return to a corporeal status – having ascended to join the Bajoran Prophets in his capacity as their chosen Emissary – is showing that having a linear life back amongst humanity is not an easy adjustment. Where Star Trek often wins out above conventional shooty, pew-pew sci-fi properties is in taking the time to go deeper and ask huge, existential questions. After all, the tagline of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was “The Human Adventure Is Just Beginning”. Introspection and thoughtfulness are true hallmarks of the franchise at its very best.

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The current IDW comic series asks questions about the very nature of divinity and godhood, with Sisko having a personal connection to the matter, far closer than most, after his own ascension to a higher plane. For him, this return must seem almost like having been cast out of Heaven, with the kind of difficult reacclimation demonstrated in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, after Buffy Summers was pulled back from the next life and struggled to reconnect with the world which she had left behind, after dying at the end of Season Five. Although a very different kind of resurrection in Sisko’s case, the fight is no less onerous.

With Sisko having been a single parent, and after spending so many years bringing up his son Jake by himself, to have suddenly left him in the lurch just like that must be playing heavy on Sisko’s mind. As the issue opens, we get a quieter, reflective moment as Sisko struggles to speak to Jake about what his son thinks makes a god, fearful of the conversation it will potentially spark, and perhaps widen the gulf already between the pair. As the first Star Trek commanding officer to be seen on active parenting duties, his various challenges were manifold, compared to those in series both before and after, and speaks to his deeper responsibilities.

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Sadly, all the ground gained by that early moment is quickly lost by the issue quickly descending into the sort of jargon-heavy technobabble which is often the Achilles’ heel of the franchise, as well as something of a running joke. What we get is page after page of the sort of interminable scientific gobbledygook which immediately makes one want to just switch off. Yes, there is a place for all of that science speak, whether faux and crafted to sound authentic, or from a real and empirical basis. However, it needs to be measured and tempered so as not to either overwhelm or engulf, and that balance is disappointingly lacking here.

The revelation of who is actually responsible for the deaths of the various godlike entities proves to be as surprising as it is uninspired. In hindsight, the true culprit was telegraphed earlier in the run, yet it seems a real shame the perpetrator was not someone – or something – more abstract, or less of an obvious candidate in retrospect. However, such quibbles aside, now we have all the foundations of a climactic battle which will hopefully reward the reader with something that feels truly earned, rather than simply fizzling out at the last moment in an anti-climax.

Star Trek #4 is out now from IDW Publishing.

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