Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: Scott Tipton and David Tipton
Art by: Silvia Califano (Issue #4), David Messina (Issues #5 and #6)
The Q Conflict recently released its sixth and final issue, ending one of the most ambitious premises in Trek comic history. The entire universe was at stake with the heroes facing one of the most notorious villains in all of Star Trek. The Tipton brothers were writing. David Messina was doing the art. They even brought in J.K. Woodward to do the first cover. It had all the makings of a classic and the first three issues were really enjoyable, but did it last? Find out below as TrekMovie reviews the final three issues. Tally-ho!
The Prophets of Rage (Issue #4)
After staring down the belly of the beast in issue 3, Picard’s team destroyed the “planet killer” from the classic TOS episode, “The Doomsday Machine.” Before they could even reflect on their victory, it was on to the next challenge. Apparently the Bajoran Prophets did not accept Q’s invitation to the games, so he’s instructed the teams to, essentially, annoy them.
The four captains huddle with their respective teams to formulate a plan of action. Picard, under the suggestion of Spock, floods the wormhole with anti-tachyons, essentially “knocking” on the Prophets’ front door. The Emissary attempts to contact them directly, alone, while Kira gazes into an orb. Kirk takes a different approach and takes the Enterprise directly into the wormhole, upon Dax’s recommendation.
Unfortunately, this is where things take a downturn for me. The ever so brash Kirk makes contact, angering the Prophets who turn their rage towards Q. The entire premise of this particular challenge is that Q is intentionally antagonizing the Prophets because he’s upset they didn’t participate in his little game. I get why they’re here – the Tiptons are trying to introduce something from every series as a new challenge but this fell a bit short for me. The irritated, extra-dimensional entities battle Q in a brief space-time bending melee, resulting in the omnipotent one literally balled up in the fetal position. To the rescue are two more characters joining the fray, Q(2) and Q(Amanda Rogers).
Despite my thoughts on the story, the art, however, is excellent. David Messina took one issue off and tagged in Silvia Califano, whose style I love. For the most part, she gets the likenesses spot-on. It’s not always perfect, but her art is so gorgeous, it doesn’t matter. The level of detail is outstanding, even in wide shots. If her Twitter feed is any indication, we’re going to be seeing a lot more Trek from her and that’s a very good thing.
Queen For a Day (Issue #5)
With the arrival of Q2 and Amanda Rogers, the story gets back on track. Amanda smooths everything over with the Prophets while Q2 scolds Q over his recklessness. As we’ve heard so many times before, the Continuum has just about had it with Q’s shenanigans. They tell Q he can continue his game, but he’s on an extremely short leash.
For the next challenge, Q has upped the danger factor to 11 and once again, Trelane is to become the benefactor. The man-child not only has a menagerie full of intergalactic animals, but he’s also a huge fan of the Borg and wants one more trophy – a Queen. Apparently it’s something he’s been wanting for a long time, even against the wishes of his parents. Clearly, he’s learned nothing since Kirk’s last encounter with him on Gothos. Which begs the question – where are his parents? Those oddly pulsating, translucent green blobs probably should’ve brought him home the minute the Q Conflict started.
Their mission (they have no choice but to accept it) is to capture a Borg Queen and deliver her to Trelane for his amusement. No big deal. As one can imagine, all of this doesn’t sit well with Guinan, who has a very bad feeling about all of this. That’s why she enlists even more characters to join this story because why the heck not?
On the plus side, as we wait for Star Trek: Picard, we do get a chance to see Jean-Luc and Seven team up. On the downside, capturing a Borg Queen was way too easy, even with all of the help they have. It took an entire movie to take down the first queen and at least two episodes in subsequent meetings. It would have been interesting to see the Borg put up more of a fight – perhaps disrupting Q’s game by, say assimilating the Iconian technology or even one of the Q’s. But alas, the Tiptons played it straight, so it didn’t happen. Instead, Wesley and the Traveler come and save the day, because, again, the more the merrier.
Speaking of the Iconians, one of the coolest things in this issue is Janeway’s use of the captured gateway from issue #2 as a discreet way of communicating with the other captains. “Contagion” is one of my favorite TNG season 2 episodes and I always wanted them to revisit that storyline and technology. How it was incorporated into the story was done really well and I especially enjoyed the callback.
After a one-issue hiatus, David Messina is back on pencil duty. While he may not have actor likenesses down, he more than makes up for in terms of visual storytelling. His framing and overall visual choices are excellent which really help complement the epic nature of the story. Plus, anyone that can organically fit the Picard facepalm gif into a comic panel is my hero.
War (What is it Good For?) (Issue #6)
In the last few issues, Q has made the teams jump through galactic hoops by having them capture an ancient piece of Iconian technology, defeat the “planet killer,” anger the Prophets, and capture a Borg Queen. All in a day’s work for the best of the best Starfleet has to offer. They’ve all reluctantly gone along with Q’s childish game thus far, all the while secretly planning for a way out. I would’ve thought that the Borg Queen would’ve been the last straw, but, instead, Q reveals the next challenge – capturing an Omega Molecule.
As we found out on Star Trek: Voyager, an Omega Particle is one of the most destructive force in the galaxy. Knowing that, finally, it’s determined that the game must end now. What’s the best way to tell a godlike being you’ve had enough? Well, Q has appeared over a dozen times across multiple series and as we’ve seen repeatedly, the only way to defeat him is to face him in battle with Q weapons. Wait, what?
Janeway is no stranger to Q weapons as we saw in the VOY episode, “The Q and the Grey” in which the Continuum were involved in a Civil War. Amanda Rogers equips the teams with the weapons, which their primitive human minds comprehend as phaser rifles, hand phasers, and the occasional 20th-century automatic weapon.
What ensues next is an all-out war with Q, complete with tree monsters (Rock Man gets cut again!), salt vampires, Borg drones, and Mugatos. I won’t spoil the ending but inevitably when it comes to Q, things have a way of working out just fine.
The Q Conflict is definitely entertaining and it’s really fun to see all of the crews interact with each other. I love the ambition IDW and the Tiptons had in the beginning. It’s no easy task to include essentially every major Star Trek character into a story so I applaud them for that. For the most part, it works.
But the central issue I have is with Q himself. He was usually played by John de Lance as a mischievous, master manipulator with a soft spot for humanity. Sure, he always manages to cause trouble at the expense of each crew, but some of the time, he’s there to help or teach a lesson. While it may have seemed reckless for him to introduce the Borg, it gave the Federation a chance to prepare for an attack against an enemy they otherwise would never have seen coming. Whether or not that worked is beside the point. He also gave Picard a second chance at life and the ability to save humanity from its own annihilation. He may be a pest, but he certainly isn’t evil.
The Q Conflict, however, portrays Q as an aggressive, overbearing bully with a thirst for power. At times, he’s absolutely out of control and not very fun to watch. Whenever there was a new Q episode, for better or worse, they were usually entertaining. While ultimately he explains to Picard that there was no other way for the war among the godlike beings to end, his actions throughout the series don’t reflect that. In fact, the only reason he doesn’t annihilate everything in his path is because Q2 talks him off the ledge.
While overall The Q Conflict was enjoyable, I’m not totally sold on the execution. Just because you can cram a bunch characters into one story doesn’t always mean it’s going to come out like The Avengers. For me, it felt more like The Avengers: Age of Ultron. And just like Age of Ultron, it’s not the best, but still worth checking out.
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