Review: Star Trek: Lower Decks #1
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: Ryan North
Art by: Chris Fenoglio
Letter & Design by: Johanna Nattalie
The first comic adaptation of Star Trek: Lower Decks warped into comic retailers last week and if you’re a fan of the show, you won’t be disappointed. [NOTE: Review contains spoilers]
Written by Eisner-winning comics writer Ryan North (Adventure Time) with flawless art from Chris Fenoglio (Star Wars Adventures), Star Trek: Lower Decks #1, much like its streaming counterpart, flies at a delightfully frenetic pace – and that’s not a bad thing. “Non-Herberts” North, Fenoglio, and Nattalie managed to cram in as many easter eggs, callbacks, and public domain adversaries as you can shake a bat’leth at. There’s even a cameo from our good friend(?) Badgey at the end of the book with a handy callbacks one-sheet, in case you missed a reference. To top it off, there’s a sarcastic, amusing wink to the reader in the form of a narrator breaking the 4th wall at the bottom of the pages. It’s as if Lower Decks itself has become sentient. *Looks at camera*
This Way to Eden
Let’s get straight to the point – this has to be one of the best comic adaptations I’ve ever read. The dialogue is exactly what these characters would say on the show and I can hear the actors’ voices in my head as if I was watching an episode of the show. In an interview with startrek.com, writer Ryan North revealed he collaborated with Lower Decks showrunner Mike McMahan on the comic scripts which is how he was able to nail the tone of the show. One interesting tidbit from that interview is that North unknowingly plotted out much of what happens in Picard Season 3, premiering in February 2023. He says,
It’s funny — one of the first ideas I had I got super excited about and wrote this 10-page document about what the story could be, and sent it off to Mike. He called me the next day and said, “This is amazing, but we can’t use any of it, because you just plotted out a lot of what’s happening in Star Trek: Picard Season 3.” So, uh, that’s how I accidentally spoiled myself on Picard Season 3.
Hmm, is there a universe where Picard Season 3 crosses over with Lower Decks? IDW, get on that in Summer 2023.
Ships In a Bottle
A significant portion of the story takes place on the holodeck with Boimler, Mariner, and Tendi, while Captain Freeman and Commander Ransom deal with rogue Catullans and Second Contact with an alien planet. The holodeck stuff is really fun and expansive as they race through holodeck programs like they are on a spinning Dabo wheel. Fans of TOS and TNG will be pleasantly surprised with where and when they go, especially if you’re a fan of any ship named Enterprise. In his interview, North recalls a conversation with McMahan about stuff they can’t do on the show and where this comic fits in.
One thing he told me early on was that, for whatever reason, it was pretty complicated to show characters and other elements from the previous shows on Lower Decks, but I wasn’t under those restrictions, and he’d hoped I’d take advantage of it. So there is a sequence in the first issue where I get to go a little hog wild on that. I did, for instance, ensure that my favorite starship class, the Ambassador class of the Enterprise-C, was absolutely included.
Yes, Mariner’s (and everyone’s, right?) favorite Enterprise, the C, makes an appearance, among other starships that bear the name. While this issue (much like the show) relies heavily on nostalgia, there’s a hilarious twist involving a certain public domain character that Mariner tries to “Moriarty-ify.” It will make sense when you read it.
Kings of the Hill
With the proverbial tractor beam off, North was able to go where no other comic can (or should) go. Not only that, but two of the most recognizable holodeck programs also appear in comic book form to comedic delight. No, it’s not in Sherwood Forest or the Old West, but they both have pretty epic hats.
Shades of Gray (and lots of color)
Artist Chris Fenoglio is no stranger to fandom, having drawn for another franchise with Wars in the title, as well as Batman: The Animated Series, X-Files, and Orphan Black. The art is so good, it’s like the issue was taken directly from the actual production.
No Rubber Ducky Room…Yet
Sadly, the only thing missing from this issue was a peek at the rubber ducky room. I guess I’m just going to have to wait until the next Lower Decks series. North on the rubber ducky room:
You know, these three issues have 30 pages each, and I thought, “Wow, compared to the 20 page issues I normally do, these are absolutely spacious! I’ll be able to fit everything I want!” But I couldn’t. Even in space, there’s not enough space. Sadly, I had to cut my 10-page action sequence around the giant Rubber Ducky Room.
IDW really hit a home run with this adaptation. Issue 1 ends on a cliffhanger so I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the 3-issue series.
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