by The Masked Bookwyrm

Star Trek Reviews - Page 4

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The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation 1994 (SC TPB) 190 pages

cover Written by Michael Jan Friedman, John De Lancie. Pencils by Pablo Marcos, Gordon Purcell, Matt Haley, Peter Krause. Inks by Pablo Marcos, Carlos Garzon.
Colours: Julianna Ferriter. Letters: Robert Pinaha.

Reprinting: Star Trek: The Next Generation (monthly series) #5-6, 19, Annual #1, 2

Into by Jeri Taylor (one of the TV series writers)

Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 5)

Number of readings: 1

Review posted Feb 2016

Published by DC Comics

I tend to have a mixed relationship with "best of" comic book collections -- usually finding them alluring as "samples" but equally often hit and miss. I also have a mixed relationship with media tie-in comics -- though I've read lots of them. I've suggested before that, in a way, the less I'm a fan of the source material, the better my response to the comics. I suppose it's because in those cases I'm familiar enough with the source to appreciate when the comic captures the flavour, without being such a fan that I'll nitpick over every little detail. So in that sense, despite bring a bigger fan of the original Star Trek series, I've often enjoyed comics based on the spin-off series better.

All of which is a preamble bringing us to this collection culled from the early ST:TNG comics by DC Comics.

And ya -- I'm mixed.

For one thing, it's an oddly small collection -- small because they chose to include a two-parter plus two double-sized annuals which, along with single issue story, means it only presents four different stories!

The two-parter has the Enterprise rescuing colonists from a sort of plague world -- only to discover they are miraculously cured of their illness. This has a particular effect on Geordi, as one of the cured colonists is an ex-lover of his. And this is what I mean about my attitude toward the source material affects my attitude to the comic. Because it's not really a great story -- but it's perfectly in keeping with the sort of story TNG would've done, so it's suitably evocative. Despite being stretched out over two issues it's not like the plot is especially complex or twisty -- you pretty much know what's going to happen, without even any significant surprises.

The single issue story is, well, pretty minor, focusing almost entirely on character. Troi takes Dr. Crusher hiking on the holodeck, the latter feeling a bit morose because it's her birthday and she's getting older, while Riker subs as a school teacher with Wesley in the class. That's pretty much all there is to it.

The first annual is written by actor John De Lancie and, appropriately, features his character of Q, the malicious/mischievous cosmic being. After Q first shanghaies Picard into his own past, giving him a test wherein he must somehow prove his identity to his sceptical parents, the story then veers into an alternate reality Dystopia. De Lancie's story doesn't lack for ideas -- but maybe suffers from too many of them, not really developing them properly (there's little plausible explanation for how or why this Dystopia would evolve given the changed history, and it can seem more like an overview of the scenario, rather than driven by scenes or by Picard as a character). And it can feel like the ideas are driving the story and the characters, rather than vice versa. There's also a kind of odd moralizing as the premise could kind of breakdown to be: don't bother regretting past actions because a Fascist state might have arisen otherwise! (Not exactly a universal concern).

Though continuity buffs will note that the story references Picard having a dead brother -- when in the TV series he was (I assume subsequently) revealed to have a still living brother.

I think the best of the collection is the second annual. Again, I say that with the modest expectations TNG engenders in me. After all, despite 54 pages it just comes across as an episode of the TV show. But I would argue it does successfully evoke a TV episode -- and a better than average one. The story mixes a current crisis (The Enterprise having to rescue another Starfleet ship besieged by strange vessels) and some action with flashbacks to a past relationship of Riker's, giving the thing its talky/human drama aspect. I suspect part of the story's appeal for me is the art. Matt Haley does a nice job of capturing the actors, while still delivering moody, well composed panels. Funnily, I think this was among his earliest professional work!

Not that the art throughout isn't of a decent level from an array of artists, all working in a reasonably realist style and evoking the actors well enough. But Banning stands as my favourite.

But as for being a "best of" collection -- there's one very good story (Annual #2 - which you could probably pick up in a back issue bin), an okay if undistinguished one (#5-6) and a couple of lesser ones.

Original cover price: $ __

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Beginnings 1995 (SC TPB) 160 pages

cover by Bill Sienkiewicz Written by Mike Carlin. Pencils by Pablo Marcos. Inks by Carlos Garzon, Arne Starr.
Colours: Carl Gafford. Letters: Bob Pinaha. Editor: Robert Greenberger.

Reprinting: Star Trek: The Next Generation #1-6 (1988 mini-series)

Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 5)

Number of readings: 1

Additional notes: introduction Michael Okuda (Star Trek: TNG graphics designer)

Published by DC Comics

DC Comics enjoyed one of the most successful runs of Star Trek comics of any of the various comics publishers who have acquired rights to the property over the years, and its Next Generation comic was also quite successful. But before it committed to a regular series based on the, then, new and untried television property, it tested the water with a six issue Star Trek: The Next Generation mini-series. A series which was then collected as the TPB, Beginnings, some years later.

Actually, the interesting thing about the mini-series is to wonder if it was intended, originally, as only four issues. For unlike most miniseries, which tell a single story, here some of the issues are self-contained. In fact, it's not till the third issue that a multi-part story begins, stretching from #3-5, and though the sixth issue is, once more, self-contained, it is the culmination of a mission that was first assigned to the crew in issue #3. In other words, you almost wonder if #3-6 were the original mini-series, and then someone decided to expand it with a couple more, stand alone, tales just to really test the water.

Just a thought.

Anyway, I've mentioned elsewhere that I was more a fan of the original series than any of the spin-offs, which, paradoxically, might mean I'm less critical of comics based on the later series, since I don't require as much fidelity to the source. Case in point is Beginnings which, I'll admit, I reasonably enjoyed.

Oh, sure, the dialogue can be corny, fans might object to the characterization in spots (though more in the nuances than the broad strokes), the plotting can be a bit erratic...even, um, occasionally curious (issue #2 is a Christmas story wherein the crew encounters a race that looks a lot like the Grinch from Dr. Seuss, and these creatures are pursuing a strange, spirit creature -- I'm not kidding!) There is a bit of a "guilty pleasure" aspect, at times. But, overall, it kept me turning the pages. And that's the point. And the whimsy of the Christmas issue isn't as in evidence in other issues.

Taking advantage of the bigger cast, and the more colourful characters in TNG (as opposed to the original series, where most of the supporting characters were just keeping the seats warm), writer Carlin can pad things out with thought balloons and minor sub-plots utilizing the personalities. In fact, Tasha Yar (this was originally published during the series' first season) is actually explored more fully in the multi-issue story, and developed more compellingly, than I recall her ever being in the TV show itself. Following the lead of DC's classic Star Trek comic, in which a deliberate attempt was made to create its own universe by introducing original supporting characters, Carlin throws in a married couple not from the series, the Bickely's -- aptly named, as they bicker incessantly, even on the bridge. It's a one note, somewhat implausible characterization, and nothing is done with them, but it perhaps reinforces the idea, inherent in the series, that this Enterprise is populated, not just by crewmen, but by families as well.

At the same time, Carlin slips up in various ways -- dialogue doesn't always sound appropriate to the characters, relationships might seem shaded slightly different; Troi is given vague pregognative abilities, not just empathic abilities. Some claim this was partly because Carlin was writing this just as the series itself was only beginning. Though that doesn't excuse other errors, like having an admiral change name in mid-scene! And it's almost too faithful in other ways. Recurring character, Q, appears and some of the story ideas make reference to specific episodes -- which might be a bit confusing if, like me, you haven't seen those episodes in years (though I could still follow the gist). Actually a cute "in" joke is when the characters encounter a planet inhabited by various races, and one of the characters is half-black/half-white -- a reference to a race from the original series.

Pablo Marcos' art is not, perhaps, inspiring, yet he does a good job evoking the actors -- at least enough that you can always tell who's who. He tends to exaggerate the muscles a bit, making these space explorers look more like super heroes but, overall, it tells the tales adequately in a no frills, Bronze Age way.

Reasonably well-paced, so that even the talky bits -- and like the series itself, there's plenty of that -- don't seem boggy, I'll admit, I emerge, whatever its flaws and lack of polish, with generally good feelings about this book. Maybe it's partly because, in a medium dominated by super heroes, there's fun in an old fashioned, SF comic. And maybe it's because -- frankly -- I got a tattered copy of this dirt cheap as opposed to the heftier cover price! (My enjoyment of a book is often inversely proportional to how much I paid for it).

With some stand alone tales to be read in a single sitting, and a multi-part saga sandwiched inbetween, this is a decent little collection of diverse tales. Nothing classic, but enjoyable.

Original cover price: $27.95 CDN./ $19.95

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Forgiveness 2001 (HC and SC GN) 96 pages

cover by Hampton Written by David Brin. Painted by Scott Hampton
Letters: Tracey Munsey, Albert Deschesne. Editor: Jeff Mariotte.

Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 5)

Number of readings: 1

Additional notes: sketchbook; author bios.

Published by Wildstorm/DC Comics

Forgiveness is probably the longest, single-story ST: TNG comic book done to date (though there may well have been longer stories serialized in the monthly comic). It's written by David Brin, a respected science fiction novelist who marks his first stab at a Star Trek story here and, I believe, his first work in the comics medium. And it's probably the first -- the only -- fully painted graphic novel featuring any of the Star Trek series. And that combines to suggest Forgiveness was intended to be something special -- even the title sounds profound.

I should mention that I'm not a huge fan of the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" TV show (so far practically the only other ST: TNG comics I've read are the TPB Beginnings and the story in Star Trek: The Modala Imperative). I'm a fan of the original TV series, but have had mixed feelings about all the subsequent ones. Ironically, the Next Generation movie I enjoyed the most -- Insurrection -- seems to be one of the lesser regarded ones.

The story has the Enterprise intercepting a centuries old transporter signal. They materialize from the signal Dr. Blakeney, a 21st Century earthman. Since he's suffering from partial amnesia, Dr. Crusher suggests a radical treatment using the holodeck to help him retrieve his memories by letting him relive the days prior to his beaming. Meanwhile, the Enterprise is set to meet with the Palami, a species that has been quarantined by the Federation for decades for crimes committed generations ago. The Palami feel they've served their penance, while many in the Federation, including the hardnosed ambassador the Enterprise is escorting, are less inclined to be so forgiving.

At 90 pages, you might expect Forgiveness to be the equivalent of a movie -- but there seems barely enough here to fill a TV episode. And it seems a little like a shaggy dog story -- all build up with little pay off. Not a lot happens -- certainly not much in the way of excitement or adventure. Nor even as a drama. By beginning the story showing Blakeney commencing his ill-fated teleportation, there isn't much we're waiting to discover as the holodeck therapy peels back the curtains from his memories. In the first few pages we learn that his teleportation experiments had aroused the ire of religious fanatics and rival businesses, and that someone sabotaged his beaming. In fact, what seems like a mystery to be unravelled -- that two men went into the transporter at the beginning, but only Blakeney is materialized by the Enterprise -- turns out not to be the puzzle one might have expected (it doesn't turn out that he's a merged version of two men or anything). The encounter with the Palami, where the Enterprise encounters a menacing battlefleet, doesn't materialize into much of anything, either.

The flashback scenes have a certain readable, kitchen sink aspect, but nothing that screams gripping drama, or profound character exploration. There's an effective, suspenseful sequence where Data and Crusher discover that the holodeck has built some stuff a little too authentically...but that's only a brief part of the story.

Given the limitless scope of a comic, the story seems kind of low budget, with most of the action taking place on the Enterprise, or in the rather conventional-looking 21st Century.

The forgiveness of the title has little to do with anything demonstrated in the story or arising from the characters. It just seems tacked on for the climax, to make the story seem thoughtful.

For a Next Generation story, writer Brin seems disinterested in his heroes, focusing most of his attention on Blakeney and the flashbacks to the 21st Century, where Dr. Crusher and Cmdr. Data are little more than observers -- and even Blakeney isn't an especially well realized figure. Captain Picard has a lot of lines and scenes, as do Data and Crusher, to some extent, but not so that their characters are explored especially. At one point a character worries Crusher might develop an attachment to Blakeney...but she doesn't, so that turns out to be a non-starter. Riker, LaForge, and Troi appear, but mainly to fill up the scenes (Worf doesn't appear at all -- this is set during the Dominion War when Worf was a regular on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine").

For someone who the cover describes as having a "sure fictional hand and scientific expertise", Brin's script suffers from plausibility problems. If the story had worked better, they would've been forgiveable. But as it is, they kind of hobble it further. The story is about the Federation having quarantined a planet as a punishment for a "crime" (which was apparently an accident anyway) committed generations before. In a sci-fi context, it's an O.K. idea, but in a real world context, that'd be like throwing a son in jail for a crime committed by his father! While in another plot element, we are told Blakeney blames a rival consortium for the deaths of his family...but even when we learn how they died, it's unclear why he holds them accountable. And the idea that the Captain would authorize key crewmembers to engage in a radical experiment while he's simultaneously taking the ship into an unknown dangerous situation, seemed implausible (couldn't they have waited a few days?)

Hampton's painted art adds weight to the book, but can seem a bit stiff (perhaps because he's modelling his characters on stills of the actors, taken from other contexts), and the work's a bit spartan. It's realistic, without being of the photo-realistic variety of an Alex Ross. He does a good enough job of capturing the likenesses of most of the male actors, though the female regulars are identifiable simply by their hair colour (arguably, he makes Crusher and Troi look prettier than their real life counterparts). He captures the sets and costumes accurately, but like the script itself, it seems a bit aloof and soulless at times.

According to the bio notes, Brin had the idea for this back when he first saw the original Star Trek series in the '60s -- making this a story that's been three decades in the making. But the "concept" to which he refers, I suspect, is simply how the development of teleportation might engender the fury of conventional transportation companies and religious zealots who claim the soul would not be teleported. But that concept isn't quite enough to sustain a 90 page story without better twists and turns, particularly when that's all established in the first three pages. Besides, at the risk of being precisely the sort of person Brin is criticizing, maybe we shouldn't look at Star Trek's transporter as anything more than a convenenient plot device. Because, realistically, it would raise a lot of philosophical questions if someone were to really develop it (given that there was an episode of TNG where Picard actually died...and they simply recreated him from his pattern recorded in the transporter, raising the question of who/what is the individual).

Ultimately, this isn't horrible, but it seems a bit undeveloped, both as an adventure story, and as a human drama -- and ridiculously over-priced for what it is.

Soft cover price: $29.95 CN./ $17.95 USA

Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Gorn Crisis 2001 (HC & SC TPB) 96 pages

cover Written by Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta. Illustrated by Igor Kordey.

Rating: * * * (out of 5)

Number of readings: 1

Review posted: Feb 2016

Published by DC Comics

The Gorn Crisis is an epic-length, all-original, and fully painted Star Trek: The Next Generation graphic novel. It's a format that TNG comics seemed to get more than other versions (I think the original series only got two lengthy graphic novels -- one a novel adaptation -- and neither were painted). The previous TNG example was Forgiveness. Added to the chic is it's co-written by Kelvin J. Anderson, a popular science fiction novelist.

The premise links back to the original series as it involves the reptilian Gorn, seen in one episode of the 1960s series. Captain Picard and The Enterprise are attempting to negotiate an alliance with the notoriously insular Gorn, not just for diplomatic reasons, but military ones. The Federation is at war, this occurring in the midst of the Dominion War storyline that was featured in the TV series ST: Deep Space Nine (can't remember if TNG was still on the air at that time). Anyway, things get complicated when there's a coup on the Gorn homeworld and a ruthless military sect takes power and launches its own bid for interstellar supremacy.

The story cleverly fractures the plot into separate threads, both helping to fill up the 90 pages, and to give some face time to different characters, with Picard and some crew members on the Gorn world, Data left in charge of The Enterprise, and Riker on the nearest Federation outpost manned by Humans and Klingons, each character having to deal with their own dangers. Unfortunately, the co-writers don't really use the different story threads for much variety, as both the Riker and Data threads basically just involve pitched battles with Gorn invaders. Nor can it be said that it necessarily makes much use of the characters (indeed, other regular cast members like Geordi and Troi are largely there just to fill out the background). The Riker thread involves him partnered with a disgraced Klingon commander, but even this story arc doesn't really evolve into much.

The result is basically an action movie. It clips along, there's lots of fighting and explosions. But it can seem a bit ironic given the cliche promoted by TNG fans was that the series was the smarter, more thoughtful compared to the 1960s series. Yet a story like this -- reminiscent of movies like Star Trek: First Contact -- is mostly just a lot of action. In addition, the plot itself can feel a bit...small. I mean, given it's some 90 pages, in terms of what happens -- story points, plot twists, character arcs -- it hardly feels like it needed such length. That isn't to say it's slow or feels padded -- it doesn't! -- just it hardly feels like a grandiose graphic "novel." It's not like there are any real plot twists, or surprises, nor mysteries to be revealed. In the early scenes, even as Picard and his contingent try to puzzle out what's happening on the Gorn planet, the reader is already aware of the coup. Nor are there any surprise motivations involved. And for all the lip service to being thoughtful, for all Data inparticular acts as if he'd rather negotiate than fight, the climax is pretty much what you might expect, boiling down to a contest of might.

The painted art is, as painted art in comics can often be, a mixed bag. On one hand, there's no doubt that painted comics take on a grandiosity, a sense of being special and bigger than regular comics -- like seeing a wide screen $100 million budget version of what was formerly a TV show. Kordy certainly has a 3-D quality (that isn't always true of painted comics) lending the scenes a richness. But, equally, I can't really say his underlining pencil work is anything extraordinary. It's not so much that he's a notable comic book artist who also paints so much as his painting is what makes the art notable. His figures can often look a bit stiff, even stubby, the action scenes not always clearly presented. He can capture some of the actors well enough (notably Patrick Stewart's Picard), others less surely -- though usually you can tell who's supposed to be who. There are a small number of painted artists in comics -- like Alex Ross, Joe Jusko -- whose art can imbue the scenes with a startling realism. But most -- don't.

And given the Gorn aren't human, that allows the comic to indulge in some grislier violence than it might have for human victims (Gorn's get decapitated and the like).

I also can't say the script exactly warps by without a few holes and head scratching moments. Including the idea that Picard would beam his crew down in the midst of a coup when, you might think, as a foreign emissary, he might be better advised to stay neutral. Or a Starfleet Commander (joining the long list of obnoxious bureaucrats Star Trek liked to trot out over the years) blithely tells Data the Enterprise is on its own -- even though Data has just informed him an enemy fleet has been launched against Federation interests. (Battling the Dominion or not, I think you'd still take news like that more seriously).

For that matter, aren't there some ethical issues raised by the Enterprise -- and Starfleet's -- eagerness to befriend The Gorn and recruit them for their fight with The Dominion? Given the Gorn seem to be genocidal warmongers themselves?

Original cover price: $ __

Star Trek: Voyager - Encounters with the Unknown 2001 (SC TPB) 210 pages

cover by Drew StruzanWritten by Nathan Archer; Janine Ellen Young & Doselle Young; Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning; Kristine Kathryn Rusch & Dean Wesley Smith. Pencils by Jeffrey Moy, David Roach, Robert Teranishi. Inks by W.C. Carani, David Roach, Claude St. Aubin.
Colours/letters: various. Editor: Jeff Mariotte.

Reprinting: Star Trek: Voyager - False Colors, Star Trek: Voyager - Avalon Rising, Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force, Star Trek: Voyager - Planet Killer #1-3 (2000-2001) - with covers

Rating: * * * * 1/2 (out of 5)

Number of readings: 3

Published by Wildstorm / DC Comics

Wildstorm's approach, when it became the umpteenth comics company to acquire the rights to the various Star Trek series, was to forgo monthly series, and instead offer up various one-shots and mini-series. This TPB collects, I believe, the whole of Wildstorm's Star Trek: Voyager stories (the Voyager characters had previously seen comicbook life in a Marvel Comics series).

An advantage to the format -- most being forty-plus page stories -- is that it allows for a smoother transition from an hour long TV series into comics than does a 22 page comic. Most of these stories could comfortably make TV episodes -- plot-driven episodes, that is. What is noticeably lacking is much human drama (though there is some) or character exploration. Those hoping for, say, some portrayal of the romantic relationship between Tom Paris and B'elanna Torres will be gravely disappointed. In fact, many of the characters barely appear -- Neelix has maybe a couple of lines in the whole collection; Torres doesn't fare much better; Kes doesn't appear at all (since all stories take place after she was written out of the show).

Given that these stories were mostly written after the series came to an end (but set within the time frame of the show), one would think the writers would've actually had greater latitude to explore the personalities, since they wouldn't have to worry about a subsequent TV episode contradicting them.

Still, as plot-driven stories, they're mostly decent enough. Though the title -- "Encounters with the Unknown" -- is an exaggeration as some of the threats turn out to be familiar.

The best, surprisingly for me, is "Avalon Rising", writen by Janine & Doselle Young. Surprising because most of the Voyager characters barely appear in a story in which the Doctor is alone on a medieval-like planet and fans a fire of chivalry in a disillusioned squire looking for a cause to believe in -- the Doctor's tales of the Voyager crew taking on aspects of knights errant. It's precisely the kind of, potentially, overly cloying story the series would do from time to time...but it works surprisingly well. Not the least because the Doctor, despite being an artificial being, was arguably the most quirky and human of the characters. The story is also well illustrated by Roach in a realist, nicely shadowed manner.

"False Colors" (written by Nathan Archer) involves the ship being trapped in a space ship graveyard and encountering some strangely atypical Borg. It's fast-paced with some nice twists and turns to the story. And there is some character stuff involving Seven of Nine, and the other characters worried about her trustworthiness in the situation given she is ex-Borg. It's drawn by Moy in a clean, efficient style, though his is the most comicbooky of the artists in this collection, and therefore, perhaps the least impressive. But he's the only one to work on two stories. And by least impressive, I'm thinking in terms of the surprisingly high artistic level throughout...because his work is still very good.

Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning's "Elite Force" is also drawn by Moy and the plot echoes aspects of "False Colors" as well as bearing a passing similarity to an actual Voyager TV episode, in that the crew must battle both Borg, and another alien menace, forcing them to tentatively ally with the former. It's also inspired by a video game, and with its emphasis on the characters running through corridors, shooting it out with aliens and Borg, it kind of shows. And because the focus is on a previously unseen SWAT-like team aboard Voyager, the focal character isn't a series' regular. Though maybe because of that, there's better exploration of that character. But wouldn't it have made more sense to have given that part to one of the regulars? Still, Voyager regulars like 7-of-9, Tuvok and Janeway have their moments. in the end, it's a fast-paced, suspenseful, action-adventure -- even if it does evoke "Aliens" as much as Star Trek. And, as noted, there's actually some decent character development. Although, re-presented in this collection, the second and third pages are improperly reprinted -- they are supposed to form a two-page spread. And given that's when we are being introduced to characters new to the story, it can be confusing (figuring out the names) -- likewise, a couple of other scenes had dialogue balloons pointing at the wring people!

The longest story at some 66 pages, the mini-series "Planet Killer", is also the weakest. There's no characterization to speak of, and the thin plot isn't developed enough to compensate. The story revists the idea from the original Star Trek series of a giant doomsday machine that destroys whole planets, and the story follows the same progression of the characters coming on a devastated system, rescuing a survivor, engaging the machine, etc. Seven pages -- seven! -- are devoted simply to retelling the Classic Trek episode, yet conspicuously they leave out any reference to the character conflicts that made the episode so memorable. Presumably they didn't want to remind the reader of what's missing from this story! Just to add a note of freshness, the characters must try a different method to destroy the thing -- but it's a method that kind of comes out of nowhere. I don't know if writers Rusch and Smith intended to insult the readers with this thin, slapdash story...but they certainly succeeded. The art by Teranishi is in many ways the most impressive, capturing the likenesses of the actors best of all the artists here, without sacrificing mood or atmosphere -- though the talking head nature of the story means it's unclear if he'd be as good at depicting action and movement as the other artists.

But even "Planet Killer" is okay (partly thanks to the moody art) as long as you keep your expectations low (and read as part of this collection, as opposed to for itself alone). Though I still marvel at the writers' chutzpah turning in such a derivative script.

Overall, the art is among the most consistently good I've seen on any Trek comic, in that all artists capture -- to varying degrees -- the likenesses of the various actors. And the brooding colours, though mayhap overly oppressive at times, inject a lot of atmosphere. All artists affect a realist style and all are quite good at drawing the accompanying corridors, ships, and outer space debris -- though Teranishi's planet killer is a little hard to get a grip on, visually. Admittedly, given the lack of deeper emotion, it's not clear how well the artists would perform were they required to capture the actors while also expressing complex emotions. (An aside: the one issue I have of Marvel's Voyager comic -- #9, drawn by Terry Pallott -- was also unusually good for a Trek comic at capturing the actors' likenesses, and marrying it with mood and shadow -- though Pallott was definitely better at the talking head scenes than the action/fighting scenes. But maybe there's just something about the Voyager cast that made them easier to evoke in pencil and ink).

A trick that seems hardest to master, even when an artist can duplicate an actor's likeness, is capturing (in women, for instance) a genuine beauty or sensuality. In the TV series, it was freely admitted Seven of Nine (played by Jeri Ryan in a skin tight costume) was added for sex appeal...yet that isn't really evoked here (as drawn, she even seems less curvaceous than Ryan did). I also had a bit of a crush on Roxann Dawson (Torres)...but that's neither here nor there. It's Teranishi who most captures the actresses' likenesses.

I wasn't a huge fan of Voyager, so, of course, my review must be viewed in that light. I sometimes like media comics more the less passionate I am about the source material. The stories are brisk (even "Planet Killer" breezes along), atmospheric adventures, even as the lack of too much deep characterization -- and the short-changing of significant characters, like Torres -- keeps it fairly superficial. And none of the stories manage to seem like anything more ambitious than modest episodes of the series. But as a book on the shelf, to be delved into occasionally when looking for a bit of sci-fi escapism (Star Trek or otherwise), nicely drawn and set against the vastness of deep space, it's quite enjoyable.

Indeed, this may well be one of my favourite Star Trek TPB collections -- of any Star Trek series.

Original cover price: $32.95 CDN./ $19.95 USA.

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