Star Trek: Picard’s Academy #1
Written by Sam Maggs
Art by Ornella Greco with colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Published by IDW Publishing September 13
On the heels of the recent Blu-ray release of what could perhaps be the final voyage of Jean-Luc Picard, IDW is going back to the beginning with Star Trek: Picard’s Academy, a new comic book series taking in-depth look at Cadet Picard’s Starfleet Academy years. As evident from the first issue, Picard’s Academy is clearly aimed at a younger audience, and it’s a refreshing exploration of the eponymous character’s early years. It reveals facets of his character and experiences that were only hinted at throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation, but can now be fully told. We exclusively previewed the new series back in June. Minor spoilers below.
New Insights into Picard’s Academy Days
While we’ve always known Picard as the polished, seasoned captain of the USS Enterprise, this issue introduces us to a younger, more impulsive Picard, as seen in the TNG episode, “Tapestry.” His ambition is evident as he strives for early graduation, showcasing his determination and drive. However, this Picard is still learning and can often come across as a know-it-all, as is evident in an interaction with his favorite teacher, Professor Galen. This portrayal contrasts with the more measured and diplomatic Picard we’re familiar with, offering a nuanced understanding of who he is at this time of his life.
The story begins with a seemingly mundane day, hinting at the young Cadet’s rigorous academic schedule and his determination to graduate early. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes evident that Picard’s journey is anything but ordinary. Writer Sam Maggs masterfully juxtaposes Picard’s academic prowess with his interpersonal challenges, revealing a young man who, while brilliant, struggles with the nuances of social interactions (much like the Picard in seasons 1 and 2 of TNG) and prefers to work alone.
One of the standout elements of the story is its character development. Maggs introduces a diverse cast of characters, each with their unique backgrounds and personalities. From familiar characters like Boothby and Professor Galen to Reshan Dar, the top student with great hair, each character adds depth and dimension to the narrative. The interactions between Picard and his peers, especially the tension-filled encounter with Dar on the Holodeck, are particularly engaging, highlighting the competitive nature of the academy and the personal stakes for each cadet.
The artwork by Italian artist Ornella Greco, complemented by Trek comic veteran Charlie Kirchoff’s coloring, is a bold choice, considering it’s not a style we typically see in an IDW comic. It may not be for everyone, but there’s no doubt Greco is super talented and I suspect we’ll be seeing more of her work. The likeness to Patrick Stewart is by design nonexistent, but thankfully, he has hair and is not modeled after a bald Tom Hardy. The visual representation of the Holodeck is especially dynamic and immerses readers in a tension-filled climax between two rivals.
Introducing New Characters
The comic introduces several new characters:
Nirula: An Orion character who seems to have a penchant for physicality, often seen at the gym. Her interactions hint at a playful yet assertive nature, and her dynamic with Picard is one of light-hearted banter.
K’ccyt: A Bolian who, like Nirula, also likes to hang out at the gym. His character is portrayed as respectful and kind-hearted, a stark contrast to some of the more competitive characters at the academy.
Doqtis Ilum: An annoying El-Aurian with a scientific bent, his relationship with Picard is particularly intriguing. More Soran than Guinan, Doq is described as “a little obsessed with Jean-Luc” representing a close confidant for Picard, providing emotional support and camaraderie.
Marty Batanides: A human character who stands out for her intelligence and wit. Her interactions with Picard hint at a deeper connection, possibly a budding romance or a close friendship. Her character is layered, and her presence adds a touch of mystery.
Reshan Dar: A Betazoid and the top student in his class. His rivalry with Picard is palpable, and their competitive dynamic drives much of the story’s tension. His character is complex, oscillating between being (as young Picard describes him) a “total dick” and genuine skill.
Returning TNG Characters
Boothby: The wise groundskeeper of Starfleet Academy makes a return, acting as a mentor and guiding figure for Picard. Their interactions are heartwarming, with Boothby offering sage advice and, appropriately, his first cup of tea.
Professor Galen: Picard’s archaeology professor, Galen’s character is only briefly explored here. He was originally introduced in the TNG season 6 episode “The Chase,” who, after 30 years, unexpectedly shows up on the Enterprise with an opportunity for Picard to go with him on an expedition of vast importance to the galaxy. It’s made clear early on that Galen and Picard had a close relationship at the Academy, but had a major falling out. There’s a glimpse of this relationship in issue 1, as their academic interactions hint at a deeper mentor-mentee relationship, one that could be further developed in subsequent issues.
The cliffhanger ending, with Picard and Reshan Dar’s confrontation interrupted by a seemingly familiar Vulcan, sets the stage for an exciting continuation. If you’re remotely interested in what Jean-Luc Picard’s life was during the Academy, you should check this out. It offers a fresh blend of familiar and new characters with a compelling storyline and dynamic artwork. I am looking forward to the next issue mostly because I want to see if and when we are introduced to A.F.
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