For someone who was added to the line-up of Star Trek: The Next Generation almost as an afterthought, Worf has been one of the most enduring characters. Having hopped over to Deep Space Nine for a tour of duty, before reuniting with his shipmates for several films, his continued popularity seems as assured as ever.
We have seen Worf struggle with being the product of two worlds, having been born a Klingon but raised by humans, after his family was killed in a massacre. During his time on our screens, he has had to come to terms with unexpectedly being a father, as well as finding a wife and adjusting to life as a married man, only to then face loss after she was killed. As part of his legacy, Worf was also the first Klingon to serve in Starfleet, something that would frequently bring him into direct conflict with his heritage, particularly when he found himself becoming embroiled in machinations at the heart of Klingon culture and society.
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Perhaps the greatest reason for Worf’s continued popularity and longevity in the Trek franchise has been chiefly down to the masterful performance from Michael Dorn, who instilled the character with a nobility and helped to redefine what we think of as being a Klingon. So popular was this character to become, Dorn was afforded the opportunity to portray one of Worf’s forefathers in the last motion picture featuring the original cast, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, with the movie helping to bridge the gap between generations old and new.
With Worf’s recent reemergence in the third and final season of Picard, we have a sager, more zen portrayal of the Klingon than we are accustomed to, giving Dorn additional colours to use on his palette when crafting this older version of someone he has played over the course of more than 35 years now. As the son of Mogh is on the ascendancy once again, thoughts will inevitably turn to speculating about what he has been up to since we last saw Worf so long ago now. His appearance in the main Trek title from IDW has begun to fill in some of the blanks, showing his return to Starfleet after spending time serving as an Ambassador.
With some quadrants of fandom having long called for there to be a Captain Worf series, IDW has given us the closest we are likely to get for the time being, in the form of a spin-off from the current lead publication by IDW. Star Trek: Defiant happens near-concurrently with the mission taking place on the Starship Theseus, under the command of Worf’s former commanding officer, Captain Benjamin Sisko. After finding himself faced with a difficult conflict of interest, Worf ends up effectively going rogue, as he assembles a group of very familiar faces from across the franchise, and commandeers the USS Defiant.
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With IDW’s premier publication having already seen a team of Star Trek ‘all-stars’ brought together, Defiant’s impact is slightly blunted by effectively repeating the same trick, and to a lesser effect. Perhaps a case of diminishing returns, the edge is slightly taken off by retreading similar ground, with the risk being that it feels like pure fan service, rather than it driving the story forward. However, you may feel differently after watching the fifth episode of Picard’s third season, as one of the characters prominent in ‘Imposters’ has a role to play here, and hindsight not only strengthens the continuity bonds, but also adds a bittersweet poignancy.
With the groundwork now laid, Star Trek: Defiant hopefully will not only scratch the itch of showing us some more of our favourite Klingon in action, and his path to Picard, but also manage to carve out its own distinct niche in an increasingly crowded Trek universe.
Star Trek: Defiant #1 is out now from IDW Publishing.