TrekInk: Review of Star Trek Ongoing #35: The Q Gambit Part 1 + 7-Page Preview

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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.

Cover: Art by Tony Shasteen Subscription Cover: Photo
Cover: Art by Tony Shasteen – Subscription Cover: Photo

Story

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?

It's a Khan-referencing life James T. Kirk!
Don’t worry Spock, magic blood is on the way.

Review

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.

Kirk and no-win scenarios - have we been here before?
Kirk and no-win scenarios – have we been here before?

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.

Welcome back Q Snap
Welcome back Q-Snap

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.

The return of James Tiberius Perfect-Hair
The return of James Tiberius Perfect-Hair

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.

7-Page Preview

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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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Find Star Trek comics, toys, statues, and collectibles at TFAW.com!

 

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.

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I stopped reading the new comics a long time ago, but with Picard & Q in the new issue, I will probably buy this one.

Great review.

Photo reference alert: The background of Picard’s quarters in that first panel is actually Kirk’s quarters from TMP.

Too bad Q never made it into a (TNG) movie, could’ve been interesting.

This looks like it’s going to be great! I could hear Picard and Q’s voices in the dialogue.

It’ll be fun to see how JJ’s universe deals with Q.

The artwork by Tony Shasteen is amazing. He has drawn all the characters so beautifully.

One day, I might be able to get my hand on all these nuTrek IDW comics and they just might be affordable. They do say that patience is a virtue…sigh…

Rose, are these not available through Amazon on your side of the world?

Conversely, not ever having bought one myself, I have no idea what they cost….one persons affordable may very well be another persons luxury after shipping and handling are factored in.

6. Keachick (Rose)

“The artwork by Tony Shasteen is amazing. He has drawn all the characters so beautifully.”

Ahhh, no.

It obvious to me that he has TRACED these characters, and not too beautifully.

I don’t know…I think we can beat the Q thing to death just a little bit more.
At least 12 or 15 more comics, novels and maybe even a fan made production.
Who’s game?

I would like to see a crossover between the reboot movie cast and the Next Generation cast.

And what's his face Kilingon from the third film too...

Q would have been a better movie villain than V’Ger, Sybock, Chang, the Duras sisters, Soran, Ruafo, Shinzon, Bane, erm, I mean Nero, Admiral Robocop, and fake Khan combined.

I would be the first person in line on opening day to see a Trek movie with DeLancie as the villain.

Ugh. “Villain.” Stop it, please stop it

NO MORE VILLAINS

Sure wish I could see the preview pages in larger than 3 x 3 format that cuts off the bottoms of each page.

My eyes are not good enough to make out details or speech. Alas. Is it a Windows8 problem?

I really do like the well-written comics [there haven’t been a whole lot yet. The Spock Pon farr one beggared the imagination], and those that are beautifully drawn. I love the multi-page images, across a wide swath, showing spaceships or cities or other large scenarios. Comics are a great medium, and I’m really glad IDW is doing these.

Rose, you may be able to buy the IDW series in the “volumes, #1 – 8” for about $15 US per volume; I’m not sure if Amazon offers free shipping to overseas [dang it] but if I spend over $35 stateside, I get free shipping. Each volume has four “chapters,” each of which comprises one comic. In other words, two complete stories per volume, because a story [usually] runs for two issues. So, four issues per volume.

It’s a pretty good way to catch up on the comics you’ve missed, but it’s nothing like going to the local comics shop. One, because every one of my “volumes” came with at least one squished corner [so much for collector value!] and two, because you don’t get to see all the other comics and graphic novels laid out … inviting exploration. I’m just using Amazon b/c I got a gift certificate from a generous friend.

Marja – I ordered the first volume through Amazon and the postage and handling cost more than the comic itself. On top of that was the exchange which never favours the NZ dollars.

Unfortunately, the free shipping only applies to US customers, and possibly Canadian as well. For us, downunder it seems to cost as much as the items themselves.

I have gone onto Amazon.com since, but can’t seem to see what I want…not sure if it’s me or what. I did find shop in Auckland that sold these comics, but when I went there, the doors were shut, everything seemed to still be there in the shop but the telephone was disconnected. I may try to get these releases through a shop in Wellington, if they have them…

The only other way I can see to get them is to ask some kind person to send them to me (I will pay for everything – the comics along with postage and handling), but I don’t know who or how to make contact with such a person. That does require trust…

This looks better than the horrible Apollo two-parter.

I read the comics and enjoy them for the most part and I’m glad to have this extra b/w movies. So far, i liked the pon farr issues (that wasn’t really pon farr…sneaky writers ;) …) and the two parts where all the genders were reversed is priceles. This new story arc looks very exciting, I love Q! I just hope my prediction about the plot is not right and se get a more ensemble story rather than yet again another “Kirk needs to earn his captancy” thing.

PS: if you don’t get the individual issues, better buy the volumes versions for sure.

@Keachick (Rose)

As an European I order comics in my comic shop and only have to pay the cover price plus inland postage. Might work for you, too.

I absolutely hate Q.

I don’t understand the fan fascination with the character.

Such a cheat. When he’s around they can do anything without having to worry whether it makes sense, or justify it. And they turned this menacing character into Casper the friendly ghost. Besides, how much drama is there in a character that we all know is just screwing with them? Outraged about magic blood? How about snapping your fingers and making the last hour reset?

I believe that this comic was made for those fans who wanted to see Picard meeting Nu-Kirk in the next movie. By doing it in comic form they honor the wishes of the fans without having to do it in the movie. But I also fear that this is the final nail in the coffin of ever seeing Picard and the prime-universe ever again in movies… :(

#20: That’s a rather ridiculous stance to take.

#21: There was no chance of that happening anyway, so this isn’t the final nail.

#23 Why was there never a chance? For the 50th anniversary what would have been better than to bring back some of the old cast instead of having a regular Star Trek TV-episode in movie form?

20. Curious Cadet – July 9, 2014 I absolutely hate Q. I don’t understand the fan fascination with the character. Such a cheat. When he’s around they can do anything without having to worry whether it makes sense, or justify it. And they turned this menacing character into Casper the friendly ghost. Besides, how much drama is there in a character that we all know is just screwing with them? Outraged about magic blood? How about snapping your fingers and making the last hour reset? **************************************** I’m kind of with you on Q juuuuust slightly. He doesn’t make a good adversary, because you really can’t “beat him.” But I have to say that there are quite a few Q stories that are good. When he’s used in situations like “Tapestry” and “All Good Things”, he’s annoying at first, but at the end, you see that he’s kind of bringing out some things in the characters that need to be brought out. The story where Q becomes human was pretty good, and I thought the Q civil war stories and the story about the Q who wanted to commit suicide (Both from Voyager, I think) were interesting. Q as a character wins on his humor and charm, or rather the charm that de Lancie excellently pours into him. I think that for the most part, he can be annoying, but there’s a kind of love/hate relationship there….I hate to see him coming sometimes, but I love to see him interact with… Read more »

Poll Question:

In one of the above panels, Picard says, “Captain Data is as fine a captain as I’ve ever known.”

Do you think that’s true? I mean, I know their relationship and respect level has grown a long way away from that episode where they’re trying to determine if Data is Starfleet property, but….has Data ever shown any indication that he is not only a capable, but an inspiring officer? I mean, Data seems a bit dry and less than….enterprising, no pun intended. He’s a capable Ops department leader, and officer, but….I don’t think he’d be an outstanding Captain. Would Picard think so, and why?

#24: Because they’re no longer making films in the old universe.

I doubt that Q was necessarily written as an adversary. He was written as a mischievous being who had powers far beyond anyone else’s – ie *mortal beings. He was still subject to the rules/laws of the Continuum.

John DeLancie made this character enjoyable and what’s more, the only character, along with Guinan, who could legitimately turn up in this alternate universe as himself, unlike other prime universe characters.

*I suspect that the Q’s are actually mortal as well, but their lifespans (and abilities) are so much greater, as in say, 100’s of thousands, or even million of years, that, for intents and purposes, they would be immortal from our perspective.

LogicalLeopard
RE: Data as Captain

We did get a small glimpse into what kind of captain Data might have grown into in the fifth season TNG episode “Redemption, Part II.”

If you recall, this was the end of the two-part Klingon Civil War cliffhanger, where Picard was given command over a small fleet of ships in order to set up a detection network in order to prevent Romulans from interfering in an internal Klingon affair. Data was given command of the Sutherland.

In command of the Sutherland, Data was challenged by his first officer, who obviously didn’t think much about Data’s abilities to command and challenged Data’s authority throughout the episode. However, when push came to shove at the end, when Data discovered a method to detect the encroaching Romulan vessels, he told his first officer to stand down, stood by his guns and saved the day. It was at this moment, and when he was willing to personally accept the consequences of his actions at the end, that you saw flashes of what kind of commanding officer Data would become. Extrapolating from that, and the amount of personal growth we would imagine he would have had in the years between the end of “Nemesis” and this book, it is not impossible to think that Data could become a fine captain.

Just my two cents of course!

16, Rose, I would love to accommodate you, but I want to tell you, I recently sent a rubber gasket for a pressure cooker [the company didn’t ship “overseas”] to a friend in Oz, and the thing weighed maybe an ounce? Not much at any rate. The postage was $13.50 or so USD! So I think the comics coming from the US easily cost that much or more in postage, since they weigh considerably more. You may want to check online NZ comics stores. But it’s more fun to visit in person, if it’s nearby and not a skeezy comics store. Re: Q, he put the whole human race on trial in one of the early, preachy episodes of TNG, in which Picard waxed eloquent on “what a piece of work is man” …. so, more than “annoying” or “mischievous.” Just … more than a pain in the a** IMHO. 18, Jemini, Have to disagree with you on the Pon farr issues. The main irritant to me, believability wise, was Vulcans walking around in a lava field, growling. I mean … really? There was a touching moment with Uhura bringing Spock the chess piece, and she definitely proved her wits in the first part of the story with getting Spock down to Medical, hee! Also, T’Pring was boringly drawn/conceived. She should have been a beauty to rival Uhura. Like many Trek fans, I’ll never forget Arlene Martel as the original T’Pring. Incredibly beautiful, but flawlessly … logical. 20, Curious, I… Read more »

28. Keachick (Rose) – July 9, 2014
I doubt that Q was necessarily written as an adversary. He was written as a mischievous being who had powers far beyond anyone else’s – ie *mortal beings. He was still subject to the rules/laws of the Continuum.
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Well, he IS an adversary, in the sense that he provides a challenge to the crew, but he may not necessarily have been written as a clear cut villain. More mischevious than villainous, and when you have such power, you’re not really a villain, you’re almost like a force of nature.

****************************

John DeLancie made this character enjoyable and what’s more, the only character, along with Guinan, who could legitimately turn up in this alternate universe as himself, unlike other prime universe characters.

****************************

I know it serves no purpose, but I would love to see Q pop up in this new movie. Not as a character with an active part on the ship, maybe as a cook with a mischevious smile, like he’s observing the events of the movie.

*******************************

*I suspect that the Q’s are actually mortal as well, but their lifespans (and abilities) are so much greater, as in say, 100′s of thousands, or even million of years, that, for intents and purposes, they would be immortal from our perspective.

****************************

I think it’s been proven that Q are mortal, at least in the sense that they can die. There was a Q Civil war in a Voyager ep, and another wanted to commit suicide.

29. JamfoFL – July 9, 2014

You’re right. I’d have to look at that episode again, because what I’m particularly interested in is his relationship with his first officer. As far as commands go, that was a pretty easy one. They were setting up a detection grid. They weren’t negotiating a treaty or a dispute or initiating a first contact, etc. Like I said, Data is undoubtedly a capable officer, and can command other officers. He’s a Lt. Commander, and has had situations leading away teams, commanding the ship temporarily, and of course leading the ops department.

But is he a captain? To me, being a Captain takes a certain unique personality and drive. It’s not just administrative, you have to have particularly creative problem solving skills and great leadership skills. I hate to be androidphobic, but……I dunno if he’s got what it takes. Now Lore…..Lore was a good leader. An evil one, yes, but a good one. Look at how he dealt with those former Borg. He had charisma and magnetic (no pun intended) appeal….

31. LogicalLeopard – July 10, 2014

“I know it serves no purpose, but I would love to see Q pop up in this new movie. Not as a character with an active part on the ship, maybe as a cook with a mischevious smile, like he’s observing the events of the movie.”

Now That, would be cool.

16. I’m in Japan and getting these books through Amazon Japan is not practical (price is double for paperback versions and Amazon defaults to the Kindel version with a warnng that says, “Only available in English” – which is cool cos even though I’m fluent in Japanese, reading SF in Japanese IS a pain in the arse…)

I use ComixOlogy and/IDW’s Star Trek app for all my mobile devices (Windows 8.1 and iOS). The issues release in e-format same day as print and costs cover-price, even with exchange. It’s really quite nice because I don’t have to wait for anything, no shipping costs either, and if you buy in-app, the prices are listed in your currency. I was able to get the entire Ongoing series, and more, digitally. It’s a lot better than keeping physical copies, especially with a 1 year-old tearing up the house like a tornado on a daily basis.

If you’re on Windows 8.anything, you can download the ComixOlogy app AND IDW’s Star Trek Comics App right from Windows Store and get them that way.

@30 Marja, “I love John DeLancie, and his characterization of Q, but the whole thing just irritates me, as much as Trelayne did in TOS Season 1” Yes, but at least Trelayne was a one-off episode. I’ve made this argument before about Trek, when they introduce an all-powerful being, they are very limited in the ways they can depict them. What saved the Enterprise from Trelayne and Charlie? Their all-powerful guardians. The assumption about which is that such enlightened beings would be benevolent and peaceful due to their super intellenegence — a conceit that had to be entertained as how else could Kirk defeat them, much less survive them? And you got it about Q and his preachiness, the ultimate spoon feeding the story to audiences — Q is like a narrator of the obvious: “You humans are so arrogant to think you have control over anything”, yada, yada, yada. Give me good writing any day, that lets me discover this for myself. Moreover, Q represents the hazards of being able to do anything without consequences, something Abrams Trek walks a fine line doing. Introduce a fantastic solution to a common problem, and find yourself having to explain why the same thing won’t work in the same situation in the future … A problem that plagued TNG. But Q is the ultimate reset button that can legitimately, if not predictably get them out of any problem the writers idly created. The fact that Star Trek has such a rich universe… Read more »

Q is in literary terms, an “antagonist”. He gets in the way of the protagonist. He’s not a villain, but an obstruction that must be overcome. Of course, in some episodes like Q-Who when he’s “human”ed or when his son is parked with Janeway… he’s a “deuteragonist”. We’re supposed to feel his pain. Well, more like schadenfreude, probably. Roddenberry used Q really to serve that function of “Questioner” when the pilot of TNG was written in a way identically to Trelane…. I don’t think originally anyone was supposed to be killed by the action(s) of Q. Of course, that later changed (Borg you very much).
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Paul Schneider’s original concept for the Squire of Gothos sure was something, eh? Between creating Trelane, and creating the Romulans… we owe him a lot more credit that he was ever given. By the way, if you’ve never read Peter David’s “Q-Squared” or the Cox Q-Continuum series… you’ll get everything about Q and about every other god-like entity tied up in a pretty good way.

He’s human in Deja Q. Q-Who was the Borg intro.

“yet Orci choses to focus on one as banal as Q, tells me a lot about his interests in Trek, and possibly his writing style.”

This is a very subjective opinion. There are many who actually like the Q character, especially as he was played by John DeLancie and that could be why this Q kept turning up, not only in TNG but later in Voyager.

Others do not find Q particularly banal at all.

30. Marja – July 10, 2014 18, Jemini, Have to disagree with you on the Pon farr issues. The main irritant to me, believability wise, was Vulcans walking around in a lava field, growling. I mean … really? There was a touching moment with Uhura bringing Spock the chess piece, and she definitely proved her wits in the first part of the story with getting Spock down to Medical, hee! Also, T’Pring was boringly drawn/conceived. She should have been a beauty to rival Uhura. Like many Trek fans, I’ll never forget Arlene Martel as the original T’Pring. Incredibly beautiful, but flawlessly … logical. —————— The arc was too short so the potential wasn’t fully utilized, not to mention that the structure of a comic makes the narrative limited sometimes because you have to put everything in few pages. I, for one, thought that the idea of some vulcans going back to pre-surak state, because of their grief for the loss of their home planet, was fascinating. It made sense to me (red eyes and stuff aside LOL) because I think that the destruction of vulcan clearly was something that even a race like the vulcans that is so bound to logic and control could never imagine being able to face or survive. They have a new home now, sure, but it doesn’t mean that they can fully replace their previous one and get back to the their life the same exact way it was before. It is indeed a great… Read more »