This week issue 3 of Star Trek The Next Generation The Space Between hits the stores with a story set sometime during season 7. After reading issues 3 & 4 the narrative threads that IDW promised are now becoming apparent. One thematic is that each issue focuses on characters, often one character, with a "A" narrative, and there is a "B" narrative with other characters. The photo covers clue you in to this, with issue 3’s featuring Worf and Troi whose romance is set against the story of the Enterprise crew being challenged by a very cool ship that is a hybrid of a Romulan Warbird, a Borg vessel, and a Federation starship. The issue deals with how the crew must defeat this mystery ship while Worf has to figure out how to balance his romance with Troi with his obligations to Starfleet.
One of the few complaints about IDW comics is that occasionally the narrative shows character acting against type. While Worf went through a similar dilemma regarding Dax in Deep Space 9, his actions at the start of the comic seem out of character. He ignores orders and goes, for some cosmic reason, to check on Deanna after the mystery ship’s appearance. This might be acceptable because Star Trek characters often place friendship over orders. However, Worf leaves a fellow Starfleet crew, whom he moments ago greeted, injured in the Enterprise hallway to check on Deanna, which is problematic. However, the idea of Worf having to balance personal and Starfleet considerations is a nice companion to episodes where he struggled between his obligations to Alexander and his obligations to Starfleet, or those which show the challenge of his Klingon heritage with his Starfleet sensibilities.
Similar to previous issues, issue 4 (set sometime during season 5) features the "A" narrative of three characters dealing with a challenge on a alien planet, while Picard deals with a ship crisis. Here, the characters are Worf, Geordi, and Ro who find that solar radiation has resulted in the planet’s population being turned into Star Trek versions of zombies. This might seems a non sequitur for Trek, but the Borg have zombie tendencies and some Vulcans went all Night of The Living Dead int ENT’s "Impulse." While the U.S.S. Enterprise tries contact the away team, they are also transporting a former dictator to his home planet to stand trial for genocide. However, in a convenient ‘ticking clock’ plot device, if they are a minute late to the proceedings the dictator will be freed. Picard must deal with this dilemma, while the dictator discusses his religious conversion with Data. This is clearly the most complex narrative of this new IDW series. It is also the comic where the characters are most in concert with their established television versions.
A second thematic of this new TNG series is how IDW give nods to other Trek series. For example, issue 2 features a reference to the NX-02 Columbia from Star Trek Enterprise. Issue 4 has Worf repeating a famous Kirk phrase. IDW doesn’t over utilize this thematic and shows these writers and artists have respect for various versions of Star Trek. A third thematic is that the four comics each feature a "wow" page of art. Issue 3, it is page 4. Issue 4, it is page 2. These pages feature visions and vistas never seen in previous Star Trek comics. The stylized art is very good, but the art for the William Riker character has not yet improved. The fourth thematic is that the four comics deal with social issues. The Star Trek tradition of commentary is presented with the comics. Issue 4 especially discusses issues relevant to today’s social environment where religion and politics are concerns.
These IDW Star Trek The Next Generation The Space Between comics are recommended for their art and narratives. Fans who collect all the issues will be rewarded with thematics that show a respect for Star Trek characters and tradition. Plus, although it isn’t clear yet what it is, there is defiantly some tie-in between the books that will be revealed by the final issue (issue 6). I look forward to seeing where all this is going.
More info at idwpublishing.com.
Covers and pages from TNG 3
Covers and pages from TNG 4
John Tenuto’s day job is as a sociology professor. He and his students are hosting a discussion of Star Trek fans with "An Evening With Daryl Frazetti Charity Talk." Mr. Frazetti is featured in Trekkies and Trekkies 2. Daryl will discuss myths about fans, his friendship with DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), how he utilizes Star Trek with his lectures, and his experiences with the documentaries. The event is April 2, 2007, from 6 to 8PM at the College of Lake County, Grayslake, Illinois. The charity event features a raffle of autographed Star Trek items donated by celebrities. more info here