I’ve been waiting for this for months.
The FCBD debut issue of Star Trek: The Next Generation – Mirror Broken which arrived May 6 was just an appetizer that promised a feast of all sorts of Trek variety that was to come: and I was not disappointed!
In the precursor story, we got a sense of the Next Generation characters in the Mirror Universe: scheming, self-satisfying, and always on the look-out for the next opportunity.
I love how the Tiptons remind the reader of the alternate universe as seen in the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror.” It doesn’t just remind us of the original story, but it also nostalgically coaxes you to hurriedly turn the page to see how the universe has changed since the days of the ISS Enterprise NCC-1701.
After all, Picard is captain of the rusted-out bucket, the ISS Stargazer. Why isn’t he at on the command deck of the ship we know he is supposed to captain? That’s the beauty of David and Scott Tipton’s writing; it invites us to participate whole-heartedly rather than forcing the story down our throats. It is a subtle technique and definitely very welcoming.
This universe’s twisted version of the Federation – the Terran Empire – is failing. After Spock’s rise to power (thanks to the inter-dimensional intervention of the Captain James T. Kirk we all know) failed to garner the Empire the resolve it needed to protect itself from the combined alliances of the other galactic powers, we are flash-forwarded to Picard’s era, and see a brooding Picard sitting in his quarters of the ISS Stargazer, musing on the value of patience.
While Picard broods, contemplating the moves he needs to make, we are treated to Woodward’s painting expertise as he shows us Stargazer, fully dilapidated and pathetic. It is not the luxurious ship that we normally associate Picard with, which makes the scene subtly intriguing. Woodward also places Picard fully at home within the shadows. We want to know more about this dark Picard and what he has in mind.
When he emerges into the light, we get a real sense of the privateer in this version of Jean-Luc Picard. But what is more engaging, if you’ll excuse the pun, is the same sense of resolve we have grown to expect in our Picard. Meticulous and detailed, his is the outward aspect of an officer, but he is no gentleman. In fact, this is a mercenary, bent on ‘profit and power,’ to use the Tiptons’ own words.
However, there is still some familiar interplay between the principal characters like Data and Picard. Though this Data was rescued from mines by his captain, they still have an ersatz friendship of sorts. Where Picard feels invested in Data’s self-improvement, his motivations for such evolution are clearly in Picard’s own interests. The subtle yet noticeable differences like La Forges’s visor, Troi’s rank of ‘Inquisitor’ — rather than ‘Counselor’ — and Picard’s combat style are accents that make this comic such an excellent draw.
In fact, this book plays out like a true episode. It sets the scene for the crew to come together, as they begin to establish themselves in a true mirror fashion of the crew that we already know.
The only thing that stands out in my mind as we begin this voyage through the looking glass is that six issues isn’t going to be enough. We have only been introduced to about half of the crew that we know we are bound to meet. In order to fully appreciate them – as well as the ones we have already been introduced to – they need more than thirty pages for us to fully learn how different the Tiptons have made them.
Let’s take a look at the twisted covers from the other side of the looking glass!
- First, we have the regular cover, painted by J.K. Woodward – which I want to own! It’s the perfect rendition of the alternate Picard. It’s important to remember that these characters are not just simply evil – they are simply amoral. The expression on this Picard completely reveals this alternate attitude. He is ambitious and is willing to do anything to accomplish his own aims. This is Woodward’s forte: he can paint a likeness complete with accuracy but also with emotional intent. It’s a glorious cover and definitely my favourite.
- The subscription cover, by George Caltsoudas, is a stylized representation of the alternate Troi. In this universe, she is but Picard’s loyal creature, ready to use her empathic powers to discern loyalty or lies at his command. She is also not above using them for her own manipulative purposes. In this cover, I didn’t see that. Caltsoudas has skill, but in this case, I don’t think his style fits the type of character that this Deanna Troi is.
- The first retailer incentive cover by Joe Corroney is definitely an excellent choice for this series. This is also my first introduction to Corroney’s art and it is certainly impressive. A Borg-modified Data and an imposing Picard are seen on this cover and both represent an excellent warped view of these alternate characters.
- Finally, the second retailer incentive cover by Adam Rosenlund is another first introduction for me. His is an interesting blend of propaganda-ish colours and mayhem-rich poses. This is a crew of piratical bad-asses intent on dominating whatever they can and this cover reflects this.
This is a feast of variable delicacies. The physical differences are just enough to make these well-loved characters intriguing but the real meal is in seeing them react to situations in different behavioural ways. Troi is like a vicious guard dog while Data is still on a quest for realizing his own identity, he does so in a completely callous and mechanical nature, evaluating human behaviour for all its vices rather than virtues.
It is a completely original re-purposing that a true Star Trek fan will love to devour. Issue #1 is available now, and it’s a chance to not only re-visit a fan-favourite storyline, but to also see the delectable dish that Woodward and the Tiptons have prepared for us.