Q is back, and this time he’s meddling with the affairs of the JJ-verse in a new six-part story arc in IDW’s Star Trek Ongoing series, which hits comic book stores on Wednesday! Get “Q’d” in on the first issue of The Q Gambit with a spoiler-filled review below – plus check out a 7-page preview.
I caught John DeLancie’s talk at Emerald City Comicon back in March, and, of course, he was repeatedly pinged with questions on whether he’d personally appear in any of the currently produced Trek content like Star Trek Online or the new films. DeLancie charmingly demurred like the convention pro he is, and brought up his oft-repeated point it’d be pretty tough to portray an immortal being with so much grey in his hair these days. How fitting, then, that shortly after the con IDW announced Q would return to menace the nu-Trek universe in comic form, which, if not quite the movie appearance some have hoped for, is a fun way to see DeLancie’s famous character back in action.
Star Trek #35: The Q Gambit, Part 1
(available Wednesday June 9)
Written by Mike Johnson, story consultant Roberto Orci, art by Tony Shasteen, letters by Neil Uyetake, edits by Sarah Gaydos.
Reminiscing on the events that led to Ambassador Spock’s disappearance from the Prime universe, Ambassador Jean-Luc Picard is paid a visit from a most unwelcome and omnipotent guest on board the Enterprise-E. Q pokes his head in to Picard’s quarters to deliver some uplifting news about Spock, along with an ominous warning about the fate of alternate universe Spock’s actions spawned. Picard pleads for Q to leave the nu-universe alone, but he’s too late….
After taking the time to informally introduce himself to nu-Kirk in a turbolift (as well as work in a sly dig against Prime universe starship aesthetics) Q sends Kirk and crew speeding into an all-too-familiar no-win scenario involving a Federation starship, the “Smallwood” and several Klingon vessels. By the time the crew realizes what’s happening, the Enterprise is already doomed, until the entire mess is revealed to have been a fake-out, and Q’s very meaningful entry into the lives of the Enterprise crew.
Q whisks Kirk away onto the exterior of the Enterprise hull for a man-to-extra-dimentional-being talk about no-win scenarios. They take a quick “Christmas Carol”-style tour of his demise from Into Darkness, from which Kirk emerged with his best death cheat yet. Q warns Kirk not to be too satisfied with himself, and that he’ll soon find out why. Kirk and crew are left to ponder the meaning of Q’s words as they’re deposited in front of a famous space station in the 24th century. But, in the nu-universe, which great Alpha or Gamma Quadrant power is in control?
The Q-Gambit part 1 is jam-packed with 90’s heyday and present-day Trek lore, and left me excited for what’s to come, despite covering some familiar story terrain. Q is a welcome sight, and what better way to re-introduce him than to have a quick sparring match with Jean-Luc Picard? I feel a bit flagged, though, at the story taking yet another dive into Kirk’s disbelief of the no-win scenario. Kirk doesn’t retreat, he doesn’t surrender, and he always lives to fight another day (unless his enemy is a rusty bridge). This element of Kirk’s character has been covered pretty well by now, especially in the last two films, so we can only hope that using Q as a foil for Kirk’s stubbornness has writer Mike Johnson take this part of the story in some unexpected directions.
All that said, I enjoyed the hell out of this issue. Q makes quite a splash for his first appearance in the JJ-verse, with all the wit and menace you’d expect from the character. Johnson’s writing, combined with the fine lettering from Neil Uyetake, gave me numerous moments when I could practically hear John DeLancie’s diction as I sped through the panels. I even felt a little giddy at the first “snap” of Q’s fingers (though what’s up with no sound effect for the Q-flash?). And, for a die-hard Niner like me, the last page definitely keeps me excited for next month’s issue.
IDW plugged Tony Shasteen’s artwork for this series in the original press release, and it doesn’t take long to see why. After bathing the Prime universe in beige, Shasteen keeps the nu-Enterprise bridge and corridors muted in shades of cool blue and white, saving splashes of color for the classic tri-color uniforms, red alerts, and the occasional cataclysmic explosion. The restraint with color lends stark beauty to Q’s chat with Kirk on the saucer section hull (for which the bulk of page 19 is more breathtaking than the shot from the TNG episode that the scene references), and the art for the combustible ending of Q’s fake-out no-win scenario is similarly stunning. The visual references to prior Q appearances and character likenesses are impressive throughout as well – even Kirk’s hair is perfectly feathered ala Into Darkness.
There’s ultimately a lot for fans to dig here, and a lot of promise for this arc, too. Johnson and Shasteen clearly did their homework for this one, now let’s see if they can whip up something fresh out of all this Q-nostalgia in the five issues to come.
Coming Next – Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever and Q Gambit Part 2
A Trek comics-filled summer is just getting started – stay tuned for reviews of Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever released July 23rd, and the next installment of The Q Gambit the first week of August.
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Fritz Kessler is a writer, musician, marketer, graduate student, and massive Star Trek nerd living in Seattle. Quiz him on his absurd knowledge of Star Trek guest stars anytime by finding @hellofritzcom on Twitter.