TrekInk: Review of Star Trek Ongoing #38: The Q Gambit Part 4 + 7-Page Preview

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The Q Gambit returns as the latest issue of IDW’s Star Trek Ongoing hits comic book stores on Wednesday. Will Kirk, Sisko and the Alpha Quadrant survive the latest round of Dominion treachery? Find out after the jump – plus check out a 7-page preview.

Star Trek #35: The Q Gambit, Part 4 
(available Wednesday, November 12)

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 by Tony Shasteen – Subscription Cover: Photo


Newly-freed from a Dominion labor camp, Spock and Bones are brought up to speed by Kira Nerys on the Resistance’s plan to defeat the Dominion: she intends to enlist the help of the galaxy’s last known Prophet, currently trapped along with a Pah-Wraith, in an ancient tablet of which she now has possession.

Meanwhile, having just murdered Chancellor Worf back on Earth, the Changelings threaten Kirk, Sisko, and co. with a gruesome death, before a famous engineer swoops in for a last-minute rescue and whisks everyone back to the Defiant.

A last-minute rescue

A rocky, last-minute rescue

After a hairy escape from Dominion forces, Q snags Kirk for an incognito chat on the Dominion-controlled Enterprise. Rubbing in the hopelessness of Kirk’s situation, Q warns him of decision points to come before returning him to the Defiant, where Sisko plans the next step in the effort to end the war and help Kirk get his ship back.

Back on Bajor, a betrayal from within the Resistance stops Kira before she can release the Prophet. Cardassian troops escort Kira, Spock, Bones, back to Terok Nor, where the power of the tablet now rests squarely in the hands of Gul Dukat….


The Q Gambit Issue 4 kicks this story back into high gear after the careful place-setting of issue 3. This installment runs at a breakneck pace, with all the escapes, captures, and radical shifts in fortune you could hope for.

Beyond the primary narrative, the whole story continues to play out as a greatest-hits mélange of DS9 moments and characters including, now, the re-introduction of the polarizing battle between the Pah-Wraiths and the Prophets. The metaphysical elements of DS9 weren’t always fan favorites, but the Pah-Wraith/Prophet angle works well here in dramatically upping the stakes. The DS9 lover in me has to quibble, though, with the Founders’ demise early on in the book; would falling rocks really hurt a Changeling? And didn’t Odo have a much better solution to that problem a long time ago?

A return to DS9s spiritual side

 Returning to DS9’s spiritual side

Writer Mike Johnson provides some great character interaction and snappy dialogue here, even by the high standards set by this story so far. I laughed out loud at Bones’ knee-jerk response to first hearing the word “Ferengi,” and three cheers for finally getting to see Gul Dukat try to work his smarm on Kira near the end of the book. It’s also great to have both O’Briens back in action, too – practically makes you wish Keiko got to captain the Defiant in the prime universe instead of Sisko.


Keiko’s in command – she’s a natural

By now, we also know to expect terrific likenesses from artist Tony Shasteen, but there’s some standout work from both him, and Neil Uyetake on the letters in this issue – particularly during Kirk and Sisko’s climactic escape from the former Klingon headquarters on pages 9 and 10. The last page of the book is gorgeous too – every bit as crazed, epic, and evil as I’d want out of Gul Dukat.

I’m still waiting to see where Kirk comes into play in this story – so far the 23rd century nu-verse gang has been too busy being swept along in the 24th drama to play a more proactive role in the story. But with twists and great characters abound, plus a warning from Q of a major waypoint to come, Q Gambit 4 proves awfully satisfying.

7 Page Preview:

ST_35-pr_Part1ST_35-pr_Part2ST_35-pr_Part3 ST_35-pr_Part4ST_35-pr_Part5ST_35-pr_Part6 ST_35-pr_Part7

Coming Next:

December will close the year out strong with Q Gambit #5, and New Visions: Made out of Mudd. 

Cover: Art by Tony Shasteen Subscription Cover: Photo

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Fritz Kessler is a writer and editor for media and technology site He’d be pretty stoked if Shatner is in the next movie. Quiz him on his absurd knowledge of Star Trek guest stars anytime by finding @hellofritzcom on Twitter or visiting

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“No changeling has ever harmed another”

I guess in Alternate Universe, the Founders behave quite differently if the preview was any indication.

I’m still loving this comic series(can’t call them book ‘cos they’re not,lol),and I hope they’ve got something great lined up for the anniversary. A crossover of all the various tv shows could be fun,and the new movies of course. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I am certainly gonna ask IDW about it at Comic Con next year.

I’ve read all the issues so far (and every Ongoing issue in general), but overall this feels more like a classic DS9 mirror universe story. Mike Johnson, Bob Orci – let us remember that aside from Spock prime, the TOS actors merely _resemble_ their prime reality counterparts. So does the Enteprise, since it is bigger and a LOT more advanced than its prime reality counterpart. JJ Abrams didn’t feel restricted by the probable impact of Nero’s incursion, but went ahead and rebooted many aspects of TOS style to suit his movies.

The comics should reflect that, by showing a DS9 station that sort of looks like the original but is way more advanced and scaled to match, say three miles in diameter instead of less than one mile, running on sort-of familiar Cardassian technology that otherwise follows the production design of Scott Chambliss rather than Herman Zimmerman. Just for fun, all the TNG and DS9 actors can be redesigned also. After all, if this were a movie instead of a comic, it’s not like the original cast would be young enough to participate.

It doesn’t cost you anything, it’s more fun to draw, and the end result would feel more canonical, by being closer to a potential live-action production set in the same era. Think of it as an old-style comic book, which often couldn’t quite get the actors and hardware to match the live action.

So when the Enterprise-crew finally returns home to their time in the 23rd century, will they create a new alternate universe with their arrival?

4 – well, no, because, you know, Q.

I have been enjoying this series, but I did have one big issue with this issue. (Spoilers if you haven’t read it yet.)


Quark is a business man looking to make a profit, yes, and he is also a criminal. But Quark is essentially loyal, and he is usually interested in helping the little guy. He sold food to the Bajorans at cost during the occupation, he helped Kira and company sabotage the station during the Dominion war, he helped Natima Lang and her students escape, and the Mirror Quark wanted to help Terran slaves escape the alliance. Quark is a scoundrel, but he is not a villain, and so his double crossing Kira is way out of character for him.

Hopefully, in one of the remaining two issues, they’ll give him a chance to redeem himself. Maybe he’s a triple agent?

@6 (Crusade2267). Disagree. Quark became loyal after being exposed to Sisko and company over a period of years. He doesn’t have that in this timeline.

@3 (Boris). What makes you think that technology in this timeline isn’t advanced? And remember, in this setting, the Enterprise mysteriously disappeared, which set about the events we see. Also, all this could be a Q recreation based upon HIS knowledge of the timeline, especially since he wants to teach Kirk the true meaning of the no-win scenario. My problem is that as of the first Abrams-Trek movie, Cardassia was already known, going back to that bar scene when Uhura was ordering drinks (before Kirk tried to flirt with her). It wouldn’t make sense that no one has heard of Cardassians or Bajor.

dswynne: because the technology looks pretty much the same on the outside (the Chaffee in a huge closeup, the Defiant in a closeup…), so it stands to reason that it can’t be wildly different on the inside. Also, you can’t make such rationalizations when we’ve seen the same approach with Gary Mitchell looking exactly like Gary Lockwood, as opposed to being reimagined for consistency with the other characters.

I’m giving this feedback for the benefit of future stories; those in the past can be rationalized in many ways, e.g. Q altering the real alternate timeline as part of the fun. It’s just something that sticks out a bit – everything is reimagined, and then bam, an original actor. Spock prime being Nimoy is OK, because he did come directly from the prime reality, but anything that didn’t should be reimagined for consistency with the movies.

I’ve read all but this latest issue, and my biggest gripe is that the butterfly effect isn’t taken into account. Given the interference in the timeline, Keiko, Sisko, Worft, etc, probably would never be born (Sisko maybe given the nature of his birth). Even Chekov is a technically a different person in this timeline.

9 – maybe, maybe not, but the overriding concern is really the overall style. After all, the Excelsior-sized Kelvin with its crew of 800 is clearly a predecessor of Kirk’s reimagined ship, itself twice as long as its prime reality equivalent. While Orci did intend for the changes to have been caused by Nero’s incursion, onscreen they obviously began earlier. So the ideal approach would include both postulates:

1) Without Nero’s incursion, the alternate reality would’ve evolved more or less like the prime reality, but still with different-looking people and bigger, Chambliss-styled ships.

2) Following Nero’s incursion we get both: an overall redesign as well as an unpredictable future (butterfly effect).

I’m afraid the comics assume that the prime reality = alternate reality minus Nero’s influence, which is unnecessarily restrictive and inconsistent with the films.

@8 (Boris): But that’s just it. This “future” is heavily influenced by Q to the point that he is directing events to ensure that Kirk “learns” his lesson (i.e. the No win scenario). IMO, I do not think that this event is NuKirk’s future, but, rather, what Q thinks is. As one poster here has put it, there is no way that the Kelvin Incident would have the same cast of characters with the same dispositions, considering the Butterfly Effect. In fact, in the TNG episode “Tapestry” Picard made Q promise that while he, as Picard, would change, everything else would stay the same. So, it is in Q’s power to manipulate the timeline to create whatever outcome he wants, such as this,

11 – the point is that TNG and DS9 characters still look like their original actors, while their environment still looks like the original designs by Herman Zimmerman’s and (for later TNG and VOY) Richard James’s teams. We can rationalize that as Q’s choice, but the comic authors probably didn’t think that way – I think they believe that it really is what TNG and DS9 would look like in JJ’s universe, and I’m saying that it doesn’t have to, given all the changes from before Nero’s incursion, starting with the decidedly un-TOS-like Kelvin and the new actors changing the likenesses of the original characters.

Remember, their version of Gary Mitchell looks like Gary Lockwood – if the idea was that everyone would’ve looked the same if only the original actors were young enough, why didn’t they draw the comic using the original likenesses of Shatner, Kelley, Nimoy, etc.? A comic has different limitations than film, so it would be a valid creative choice. It’s one or the other, otherwise an original actor sticks out, as does the original hardware.

@11. dswynne,
“This “future” is heavily influenced by Q to the point that he is directing events to ensure that Kirk “learns” his lesson (i.e. the No win scenario). IMO, I do not think that this event is NuKirk’s future, but, rather, what Q thinks is”

I think that’s the only way to look at this, and Q. Essentially the same way All Good Things presented it. Picard wasn’t actually in his past (perhaps an alternate past), but a manufactured past by Q to teach a lesson. Q is like a great big simulation rig, presenting what-ifs.

Darkwater is right, with the massive changes to the NuVerse, and billions of lives lost and changed, there’s little chance that the TNG era turns out remotely resembling that of the Prime Universe. And if it does it will be more contrived than the events of ST09 which brought together the original characters.

Viewing it this way also solves the QM MWI delimma … Q is supposed to be an omnipotent being, but I think there are enough clues he has to play by the same laws of physics we do. Can Q move people through time without creating a new universe? Can he travel between universes? Are the events Q puts the crew through even real? Or are they all illusions like on Talos? Frankly I’d rather view Q in this latter way since the character’s otherwise unlimited ability takes all the real drama out of any story in which he appears, as ultimately there are no real consequences.

Q is my least favorite character in the Trek universe, despite enjoying a few of the episodes in which he appears. But I prefer not to think of him as canon, more like the Treehouse of Horror episodes of the Simpsons.

@12. Boris,
“I think they believe that it really is what TNG and DS9 would look like in JJ’s universe, and I’m saying that it doesn’t have to, given all the changes from before Nero’s incursion”

Actually, I wonder if there are limitations in their license with CBS. Can the comics depict aspects of the Trek universe with different designs than have been previously established without approval? And specifically, since these are based on Abrams universe, technically he would have to sign off on the look of the TNG era based on his vision, right? At a minimum, CBS would have to approve an alternate look for licensed imagery, especially if it were being presented as an actual future from canon. So maybe just easier for all involved to use the approved licensed canon artwork?

I don’t know the comics that well, have they previously created completely different-looking ships, et al, than any ever depicted previously in canon?

14 – wherever possible, the comics have adhered to what has been established for the prime reality. Another example: Khan did look like Montalban before his surgical alteration into the likeness of Cumberbatch (according to the Khan miniseries).

I doubt that CBS would care, since it is an alternate reality, while Orci is probably advising Johnson to explore any subjects that won’t be covered in a movie, so the ‘supreme court’ approval wouldn’t really enter into it.

The goal is to draw a clear line between the alternate _reality_ and the mirror universe/any altered timeline; a redesign of everything could only help in that regard.