Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Mike Johnson
Artist: Tony Shasteen
Release Date: 24th September 2014
I’m now ready to call The Q Gambit mini-series the best thing IDW has ever done with the Star Trek license. This comic in particular (Issue #37 and part 3 of this 6-part story) delivers an engaging story, and truly highlights the best that the included Trek characters, old and new, have to give.
The story continues to develop the history of this possible future for the alternate timeline of the rebooted Star Trek, rather than explain exactly why the Enterprise crew has been stranded over a century in the future of a Dominion-controlled Alpha Quadrant by the ever-a-pain-in-the-arse Q. Seeing as how we are now halfway through this mini-series I am glad to see the time was taken to flesh-out the world first, as such an amount of issues to tell a story is unprecedented in the IDW Star Trek series. There have been many stories in the preceding 36 issues which could have done with such room to spread their wings, so I’m glad the expanded issue count has not been wasted.
At the heart of this bleak future lies the moment when the Klingon Empire, seeking a tactical advantage over the Dominion, conquered Earth, and destroyed Starfleet at an altered, but still as destructive, Battle of Wolf 359. From this, writer Mike Johnson treats Trek fans to several elements at once. Firstly, the harsh Klingon rule of Earth, while only discussed and never shown, is such a departure from where the Klingon Empire should be by this stage in the Trek timeline, that the reader is instantly filled in on how devastating the Dominion War must have become to lead to such events taking place. Secondly, at the current point in the rebooted Star Trek film universe, Klingons are still hostile towards the Federation, We were given a quick glance at this in Into Darkness, and it will surely make up a large part of Roberto Orci’s Star Trek 3, so this issue also gives an intriguing look into how future engagements with the Klingons may pan out in the reboot universe. And thirdly, this subjugation of Earth brings about a new origin for Benjamin Sisko. The fact that he lives in a universe without Starfleet, and yet still dreamed of visiting the stars and bringing about a better future speaks to the heart of that character. Ever the reluctant, war-leader of the Star Trek canon, Sisko has created a resistance movement to help carry on the ideals of the Federation that died in flames before he was born. This is Star Trek storytelling at its absolute finest, taking the message of Deep Space Nine and Into Darkness (that a better future is won with hope, not with mindless vengeance) and utilising the unique setting to take this idea to an extreme example.
Sisko is not the only character who is well-represented in this issue. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to think of a character who wasn’t. Deep Space Nine favourites such as Bashir and Quark return, and are adapted perfectly from screen to page. Though they may be in a different medium, and stuck in an alternate future, the essence of their characters carry over. Bones and Spock are standouts from this issue. Good things always come from whenever these two characters are together, but now that they are in an environment where a sarcastic remark may end in getting stunned and drooling into the dirt, Starfleet’s most sarcastic duo are a delight to read.
The art in this issue also benefits from a range of new, never-before-seen locations, and outdoor environments. Artist Tony Shasteen really captures the feel of the Star Trek universe in this issue, especially with the prefect capturing of the regal Klingon aesthetic. While I am still able to spot exact moments from the films being captured in characters faces, they always fit the emotional beat the panel is going for, and they now seem to have been better integrated into the comic-book style by this issue.
At the halfway point of this mini-series I am absolutely hooked. The Q Gambit is an absolute gift to Star Trek fans, exploring favourite characters and story arcs from a new position, without ever betraying how those characters would usually act. These past three issues have set up a great alternate world for the remaining three issues to explore as we move closer towards finding out what that toe rag Q is really up to. As the most entertaining and well-executed piece of Star Trek storytelling I’ve experienced all year, I’m proud to give Star Trek #37 my first ever perfect score on the Big Comic Page. Any Star Trek fans out there should definitely be picking up this series.
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The Writer of this piece was: Andrew Stevens
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