Having returned to Cardassia Prime in search of the means to defeat the Klingon emperor Kahless, as well as trying to seek out missing Bajoran Orbs, Captain Benjamin Sisko now finds himself under arrest by Barada Damar, who is fiercely intent upon making Sisko face justice for all of his perceived crimes against the Cardassian people during the Dominion War. As issue #8 of IDW’s Star Trek comic gets underway, the trial of Sisko is about to begin…
For all of its space battles, Phaser shoot-outs and fisticuffs, what Star Trek tends to do particularly well is its courtroom proceedings. Trials, enquiries and tribunals have tended to always be a rich source of drama for the franchise, going all the way back to ‘The Menagerie’, which saw Mr. Spock being held to account for commandeering the Enterprise in order to help his former Captain, Christopher Pike. Yes, this kind of legal action has been the basis of some of Trek’s best stories over the last 50+ years.
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It demonstrates the power of subtlety, nuance and intellect compared to brute force, and has led to some truly thought-provoking debate. Take, for example, The Next Generation’s ‘The Measure Of A Man’, where arguments were tabled over Data’s legal status of his personhood; or Deep Space Nine’s ‘Dax’, in which attempts were make to have conjoined Jadzia Dax face the consequences for actions allegedly committed four decades earlier when the Trill symbiont was joined to a previous host, Curzon, who had since died.
One particularly relevant story, as far as IDW’s current comic is concerned, is DS9’s ‘The Maquis’, in which discussions are held regarding the Cardassian legal system: it turns out that where such proceedings are concerned, the actual outcome is already known in advance, with the ‘show trials’ held in order to satisfy the populace that justice is seemingly seen to be done. Here, Sisko finds himself to be on the receiving end of this Cardassian ‘justice’, with the system of jurisprudence working to provide swift retribution, without recourse for an actual defence.
However, writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing provide Captain Sisko with an unexpected ally, in the form of plain, simple Garak, the erstwhile tailor-cum-spy from back on DS9. Garak always proved to be one of the most fascinating of all the characters from that series, and his presence was guaranteed to elevate any episode he appeared in, thanks in no small measure due to the great performance by Andrew Robinson. Garak inhabited that moral grey area, which left you unsure where his loyalties actually lay, and whose side he was really on.
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Perhaps the greatest testament to Kelly and Lanzing’s work here is that you can hear Robinson’s voice when reading all of Garak’s dialogue, meaning they have captured his essence so beautifully. In fact, the duo have even managed to take one of the characters seen in Lower Decks – Shaxs, the Bajoran tactical officer from the USS Cerritos – and make him feel a fully rounded and fleshed-out creation, rather than simply the aggressive, rather thinly-drawn entity we normally see in animated form.
Overall, Kelly and Lanzing‘s fusion of elements from several different Star Trek series has taken rather too much time to bed in properly. However, things do now seem to be settling down nicely at long last, helped no doubt by a comparatively far smaller scale of story, which lets the characters actually come to the fore and breathe, rather than being dwarfed by the previous epic scope.
Star Trek #8 is out now from IDW Publishing.