Speak His Name As He Shall Appear: Reviewing ‘Star Trek’ #3
by Scott Redmond
Everything about ‘Star Trek’ is a massive love letter to the franchise as a whole, picking through various characters and concepts to dive even deeper as the threads from various franchise entries are woven together into something greater. Yet, it works wonderfully to build things in its own fashion without being beholden to what might have come before. Any fan of the various series needs to be reading this book, and anyone looking to dive into Star Trek should as well because it’s one of the best on the shelves.
Star Trek has a long history of massively powerful beings who could and do qualify under the descriptor of a god. So, when Benjamin Sisko was tasked by some of those beings, the Prophets of Bajor, with a mission to stop someone from killing those god-like beings, it was only a matter of time before a certain being with a singular letter name showed up. That’s right, Q has entered the party.
When Q decides to show up anywhere those involved are for sure going to find themselves at the mercurial whims of this trickster god. That’s exactly what we get in this issue, as the captain who actually punched Q the first time they met has a second go around with Jean-Luc Picard’s personal tormentor. One thing that made Star Trek: Deep Space Nine different than its contemporary shows in the franchise was the serialized nature of the series that saw ongoing plots woven through episodes, even if those episodes were somewhat more stand alone in a sense. This is what Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing accomplish with this issue.
Captain Sisko and the Theseus crew are continuing on their mission after the things they learned in the previous issue, but Q’s presence turns everything upside down. What makes it work perfectly is that we get a ton of Q’s usual antics as he puts most of the crew though over the top situations (as Sisko, Crusher, Jake, Scotty, and T’Lir take most of the spotlight) but also get some great ties to the overall plot. Namely that Q was in his own way testing Sisko and his crew to make sure they were the right ones to turn to for this major mission, or so he ends up stating once they succeed. Oh, and then there is the whole thing where we find out T’Lir is most definitely not just the Vulcan Starfleet ensign they appear to be.
Scroll back to the very beginning of this review where I dropped the line about there being a ton of super powerful beings that have popped up through the 56 years the franchise has been around. Clearly there is something of that nature going on with T’Lir, but what could that be? Even trying to guess could take one down so many avenues because of how many avenues there are in this space. We’re given a whole data page that lays out T’Lir’s past from their parents to assignments as well as a classified “disciplinary incident” while they were on Starbase One, before Scotty recruited them to work on the Theseus. That’s all well and good, but such things would be very easy to fake for a powerful being, or maybe someone has been masquerading as a whole Vulcan life.
No matter what, we’re going to be on the edge of our seats waiting to find out. Want to get people interested in your brand-new character quickly, give them a major story hook that seems easy but also breeds mystery. When done, right mysteries are great, and this writer duo will do it beyond right.
Oh two other notes on the story. One, I’m really glad that just like the first episodes of Deep Space Nine (I’ve been doing a re-watch) these issues are taking time to really focus on finding ways to connect this motley crew of individuals
Ramon Rosanas starts off and caps off this issue, but this issue is all Joe Eisma’s playground. Right away there is a sort of flowing lightness to the work that Eisma brings to the page yet the characters still have weight and presence. All of the characters are easy to recognize as who we know them to be without having to hew too closely to recapturing the actual actor likeness, allowing them to exist as something of their own beings. I mentioned weight and presence, and that comes from how spacious things feel and how well Eisma frames any given moment, whether a wider or closer shot.
Artwork can be found on a spectrum where the levels of detail are super strong and very fine on one side and the other side being art where details are far less. Eisma hits that often-sweet middle spot where there is plenty of detail and depth, but other panels will pull back where things are out of focus in order to hit a specific note or draw your attention in a particular space.
Then you get to pages like the spread where T’Lir and Jake are moving through the ship and it’s so awesome with the level of creativity and detail and fun. Jeffries tubes! They’re crawling through Jeffries Tubes and moving through a variety of wild scenarios on decks. Eisma makes it all work stacked together, feeling actually like different decks of the ship cut out for our viewing pleasure. How can you not love everything about this and the rest of the issue?
One thing to keep loving is the coloring work of Lee Loughride. Vividly bright but toned-down at the same time is an interesting duality to reach, and works perfectly in stories like this. Science-Fiction calls for colors and visuals that are beyond what we normally see, but Star Trek especially still has plenty of elements that call back to Earth (since Starfleet/Federation is headquartered there) and sensibilities that speak to us. So, the colors are bright with bursts of blues and reds and yellows right next to colors that are more low-key in their vibrancy. It creates a great visual and weaves together elements of different levels just like with life.
Since this issue takes place fully on the Theseus, outside of the spaces changed slightly by Q, it’s easy to have the colors pop more. Starship interiors are often quite basic in their color schemes within Starfleet, lots of grays or browns, while their uniforms and much of the tech is where the bright colors come from. Another interesting aspect is how Sisko, Q, and T’Lir ar the ones that stand out the most color wise as their red and blue costumes are vivid/loud compared to the white/brown that Crusher, Scotty and Jake are wearing. They are the spotlight trio, so they pop more on the page compared to the others.
Art and colors help create the visual language of the story, setting the tone and emotional weight, and the final part that helps with that of course is the letters. Clayton Cowles excels at being able to create the right powerful energy with the letters that give them such weight in any given issue. Sure it’s great to make sure that the letters are on the page and flow around the artwork and hit in the right space, but there is more to it all than that. We can see the emotion on the faces of the characters, and their body language, but thanks to work like Cowles we can hear that emotion and feel it even more.
That’s because of the little things that are done to the font in order to heighten the tone/volume/quality of the words. Jake is disappointed in a moment as his father is essentially telling him to stay back, his “per usual” statement is softer than all other dialogue on the page as the font is shrunk to tiny levels. He feels small and defeated, and his words mirror that, before T’Lir steps in to speak and tell Jake why he should be there alongside the Vulcan in this mission. Same thing with other dialogue and lettering that is big, loud, bold to showcase a bigger moment while the rest has a very standard size/look to it in order to sell what is the baseline.
It’s hard to believe that there was a time in the past when data pages didn’t really exist or were rare in widespread comics. When used well they are such a benefit to a comic, as they can be a place to deliver exposition/information in a way that doesn’t have to take up multiple pages of actual character conversation. At the same time, they can also be something that is far more interactive and just fun that adds a visual quirk to a comic in order to showcase some data that would be otherwise hard to convey. This is a series that uses them perfectly, from the T’Lir personnel file to the database page detailing dealings with Q by various starships. So darn good.
Star Trek #3 is now available from IDW Publishing.