Like the nightmarish horrors being conjured up by Redjac, the issues of IDW’s Star Trek: Holo-Ween sure are coming thick and fast. In the run up to All Hallow’s Eve, we arrive at the third issue, in which Captain Picard and the members of his ghoulish Away Team all find themselves confronted by a mob of angry, torch and pitchfork wielding ‘villagers’ in the vey best tradition of classic horror films.
The only catch is that these are no ordinary folk, but rather mind-controlled members of the Enterprise-D crew who are being used as pawns in Redjac’s game. As fear starts to take hold across the ship, and Picard’s party have a short time in which to act before they suffer permanent harm from their implanted personalities, it looks as though Redjac might be on the verge of victory. However, help is on its way, coming in the rather unexpected form of an old friend – and someone who may have the key to defeating Redjac, based upon their own past experiences…
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The game’s certainly afoot, and writer Chris Sequeira is on a mission to raise the stakes, placing our heroes in dire, mortal peril. Of course, it would be far easier to take the threat a bit more seriously if only Picard and his Away Team were not all togged up in fancy dress as some mythical or literary terrors. This is tongue most definitely planted firmly in cheek, and it maybe serves the reader best if they just take things in their stride, trying not to think too hard about how faintly absurd the whole scenario is. Not that The Next Generation has ever been devoid of its share of silliness before.
There are some really lovely touches here, such as in Redjac’s transformation of Data into Frankenstein’s Monster. Whilst not a direct parallel, there are still a few similarities here, as both were creations of scientists who were seeking to make new life, as well as their looking to fit in, and understand the meaning of humanity. It certainly suggests a certain level of thoughtfulness has gone into putting this together, instead of just plucking out a load of Halloween-themed tropes and then throwing them at the story, regardless of their aptness or overall suitability.
Another indication that some care and attention has gone into the crafting of Holo-Ween is in the subtle use of Bloch as the name of the crewman possessed by Redjac as he sets out on his reign of terror. For those in the know, Bloch is the surname of the man who gave us certainly one of the most memorable horror creations of our modern times: Norman Bates. Not to suggest that crewman Bloch or Redjac happen to have any unresolved maternal issues to deal with. Redjac does, however, have a penchant for knives, and his persona of Jack The Ripper – enhanced by Bird nanotech – certainly makes for a fearsome adversary.
Given Redjac’s history with ships called Enterprise, then it seems almost inevitable some of that past would end up in some way colliding with the present. Anyone who happens to recall the episode ‘Wolf In The Fold’ may be able to work out how this factors into our current tale, and it seems to be quite a logical move. There is a warm, nostalgic fuzziness in this mixing of elements from the across the generations of the Trek franchise, although some of the constant dipping into the past in other IDW titles recently may take the edge off how special this actually feels.
However, things are turned around in a dramatic fashion by the cliff-hanger, which is a real kicker, ramping up the drama and tension, and significantly raising the stakes for the crew. A treat for any reader who could predict the cruel trick played here by Redjac. Suddenly, things have taken on a more grave – in every sense – tone.
Star Trek: Holo-Ween #3 is out now from IDW Publishing.