Seeing Red, Everywhere You Look: Reviewing ‘Star Trek’ #5
by Scott Redmond
The mission to protect the God-like beings of the universe gets a lot more personal for members of the Theseus crew as ‘Star Trek’ #5 drops some big revelations and catapults the overall story forward toward the upcoming first story-arc conclusion. There is no bit of the Trek franchise that is seemingly going untouched as this creative team pours every bit of love and understanding for this franchise into every single issue, providing the perfect origin point for the just launched sibling series. It’s truly a great time to be a Star Trek fan.
Worf, son of Mogh, House of Martok, House of Rozhenko, bane to the Duras family, slayer of Gowron, not a great father. A real blast from the past rears its head in the latest issue of Star Trek, continuing this creative team’s deep love and dedication to really mining every bit of this storied franchise that they can.
The last issue saw the revelation that Emperor Kahless was the one behind the murders of the God-like beings of the universe, a revelation that was perfectly hiding in very plain sight all along. This issue saw the team pull off another reveal that was so unexpected, yet should have been so obvious, that I applaud. Alexander Rozhenko, son of Worf, revealed himself as part of Kahless’ group, the Red Path, during a Klingon raid on the Theseus as the crew tries to prevent the Klingons from killing the God City T’Kon.
Worf is a character who is beloved in the franchise and holds the record for the most appearances on Trek between all of the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, its movies, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and now on Star Trek: Picard as well. He’s honorable, a warrior, a loyal comrade, a bit prickly, steadfast in his duty, a true through-and-through friend, and a great husband to Jadzia Dax. Despite all that, it was always noted both in the shows and by fans that he was not great at being a father; leaving Alexander to be raised by his parents and in the lurch most of the time. We saw this especially when Alexander returned during DS9 a lost youth trying to reconnect with his Klingon heritage but struggling, and not wanting much to do with his father.
This is even referenced in the data page of this issue as Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly mine this important relationship of Worf’s to not only bring drama and a connection to what Kahless is doing, but provide the spark for the just-launched Worf-led spinoff series Star Trek: Defiant. It makes perfect sense that a conflicted young person would be especially vulnerable to rhetoric like that from Kahless as they try to seek a place that they belong and a mission that they can believe in.
There is, naturally, a sense of nostalgia that comes with a title such as this, based upon a beloved, iconic franchise, but where Lanzing and Kelly go with things elevates this beyond those levels of nostalgia. Instead, the franchise is used as a foundation upon which to explore and build more onto it, rather than just paying focus to what has come before in a circular status-quo-like way. A ton happens in this issue because there is the Kahless and Alexander stuff, Worf going rogue after being relieved of duty, an attack on T’Kon — who awakens and decides to attack Earth — and Sisko stuck on T’Kon with Crusher and Jake (who is seriously injured) after they beamed down to protect the God City. Oh, and we find out that Kahless’s weapon is the Orb of Destruction, which is one of the missing Orbs of the Prophets from Bajor.
Every single bit that is brought up here has room to exist and be given depth, none of it running over each other or stealing the spotlight from another moment. It all flows together creating a very tense tightly packed effortless read that screams Star Trek from start to finish.
Character and themes are far more important to Star Trek than any of the action that the franchise is also known for. This is reflected not only in the ideas of the story being presented here, but in the artwork that brings it to life. We get a duo of artists in the form of regular artist Ramon Rosanas, who is joined by Erik Tamayo. There is a lot of similarity in their styles where it’s something you can notice changing but not in a way that pulls you out of the moment or hits you right in the face. It’s very in-sync and flows so well together.
There are tons of really solid panel choices here as we cut and slash and zoom in on characters, giving us direct views of their emotions and states of being as we move through this rapid-fire story. It just hits so much harder to have these shots where we’re either right there next to the characters or we’re seeing things from their point of view, making it far more personal rather than us gazing on from a distance. A perfect example is the reveal of Alexander, three slashed panels on a page that are all facial closeups, giving us the reaction of both father and son as they come to blows.
The same goes for the page with the Prophets contacting Sisko, where we get a massive spread that has the more mystical imagery of him speaking with the Prophets, but also panels showing what it looks like to the Theseus crew. On DS9, we only saw things from Sisko’s perspective when discussing things with the Prophets (others too when they saw Orb visions and such), not what it was like for others. Here, we see action still on Theseus and a crew trying to keep going as their captain seemingly drifts off into a conversation with himself. It’s pulled off so well and adds a ton to just how Sisko’s Emissary situation would appear to others in Starfleet and anywhere away from the station or Bajor.
Lee Loughridge does such an amazing job each month really creating unique yet unified color palette choices for the multiple locations and situations that exist in this story. There is a somewhat toned-down nature overall to many of the colors and the lighting scheme in place, but with room for flashes of more vivid warm and cool colors either on the ship or in the God City. One moment there will be bright reds and blues and the next the ship interior will be back to a cool normal green sort of vibe, while anything around the Klingons is as strikingly red as their ship and their path.
Color plays such an important role in setting the tone in situations, making sure we’re feeling the emotion or feeling that the story wants to pull from us. It can make a scene feel tense or sad or exciting or wondrous, all by how the color is changed or presented at the moment. Loughridge makes it seem so simple, cycling through the various colors and changing the tone/mood on a dime, making sure to hit every single beat as they come along so that we’re never once missing a single thing.
Speaking of setting a tone, lettering does that same thing. Making sure that every dialogue moment or caption or other lettering also hits the right notes is something that Clayton Cowles excels at. Dropping a bold or larger/smaller font size or even changes to the color or bubble style quickly can change a bit of dialogue from a normal baseline response to something with anger, passion, worry, or whatever other emotion comes to mind. It also makes sure that the volume/tone is crystal clear, which is very important since we cannot actually hear these characters talk as we did when they were on television. Part of the work of hearing their voices in our heads is already one since we did hear all of these characters at one point, but Cowles adds in that extra bit to make sure we’re hearing the voice just the right way.
Star Trek #5 is now available from IDW Publishing.