Continuing the story established in Star Trek: Day Of Blood #1, the latest issue of IDW’s Star Trek: Defiant has Kahless II’s plan to purge the Klingon Empire of disloyal elements underway, leading to widespread bloodshed and civil war breaking out on Qu’noS. Captain Sisko and his crew on the USS Theseus are trying to prevent the tyrannical Emperor before it’s too late, Kahless having already sought to rid the cosmos of its ‘gods’.
With Day Of Blood having set up things on an epic scale, it falls to Defiant #6 to pick up the baton and run. However, with all of the pieces having been put into play, and action taking place simultaneously on so many fronts, this issue spends all of its time simply flitting from one plot strand to another at breakneck speed, without really giving us time to focus too much on anything in particular. There is an awful lot to pack in, but perhaps the structuring of the story could have been managed in such a way as to not make everything feel quite so rushed and bitty as it does, while still managing to get across the urgency of the situation.
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The particular team-ups of characters from across the Trek franchise provide for a variety of dynamics in play, some of which are far more interesting and effective than others. It seems a real shame that one of the ones you really want to see far more of – the reunion between Scotty and Spock – only has a couple of pages devoted to it. When you consider the legacy this pair have between them, and the fact this is a moment sadly no longer possible on screen, you really want to spend more time with them. Given the situation they find themselves in – under attack from Red Path vessels – maybe it’s best the niceties take a backseat for now.
Perhaps the biggest waste of two pages in the entire issue is the time that we spend in the company of Tom Paris and wife B’Elanna, both of whom are busy trying to repair the Defiant and get the vessel back into operation. Although they have a designated task, it would seem writer Christopher Cantwell thinks that devoting this entire vignette to their bickering over domestic affairs makes for good characterisation. The whole interlude focusing on them is mercifully brief, as their marital woes are hardly compelling reading, and risk lapsing into cliched territory, making them into nothing more than a bickering couple focusing on themselves more than the task in hand.
Antagonism and conflict appears to the the order of the day throughout this issue, as we also have Worf and Sisko firmly at loggerheads, with some buried tensions coming to the surface. Similarly, there is no love lost here between Ro Laren and Lily Sato, as Ro’s membership of the Maquis gets dredged up. It seems quite ironic that with all of this disharmony, the pair with the greatest reason not to get along – Data and Lore – are actually able to put aside their differences and focus on the mission. Given that we know from the last season of Star Trek: Picard the outcome of their story, Cantwell has quite a task of filling in the blanks, and delivering something which is consistent with what we know is ahead, while also making it engaging.
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Whereas the pacing and balance feels rather off in this issue, the saving grace is in the artwork by Angel Unzueta, assisted by colourist Marissa Louise, who manage to give proceedings a real energy and vibrancy necessary to carry things along. In having so many characters to bring to life, Unzueta’s work is most certainly cut out for them, but the finished art really is quite accomplished. Given the scale of Unzueta’s task here, you can forgive the rare wobble, such as where the likeness of Tom Paris varies wildly from panel to panel. However, any quibblings are minor given the grand scale of things, and the pairing of Unzueta and Louise helps paper over any cracks in the scripting.
Star Trek: Defiant #6 is a rather patchy, uneven affair, being perhaps blighted by needing to cram so much in, leaving the whole issue feeling rushed and unfocused, with emphasis in what feels like mostly the wrong places. Hopefully, this brief stumble will manage not to lose too much momentum in the remaining chapters of the Day Of Blood saga.
Star Trek: Defiant #6 is out now from IDW Publishing.