For the philosophical among us, I sometimes subscribe to the notion of Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan,” in which he imagines the worst of humanity’s characteristics are the dominant ones that define our existence.

Man is indeed a ‘brutish creature’ that demands the oversight of a tyrant with absolute power who knows what’s good for us.

… and that brings us to the Mirror Universe of Star Trek.

Star Trek: Mirror Broken is a re-imagining of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future in that in another universe, the peace-minded and explorative Federation has been replaced by the war-like Terran Empire that seeks to expand its influence in known space and assert its dominance.

Of course, die-hard Star Trek fans are aware of this. Originally presented in the 1967 episode “Mirror, Mirror,” the ideals of Roddenberry’s universe were inverted in that tale, and gave fans one of the first concepts of a dystopian future set against the optimism of the Federation.

In retrospect, that’s a brilliant concept. Not only does it validate the vision that Roddenberry already had, but he also showed what he thought was the possible outcome, should Humanity condone its continuation of petty, materialistic values.

Still, it’s a little disturbing to conceive of what we could lose before we gain it.

Of course, that’s the scary thing that writers Scott and David Tipton and artist J.K. Woodward frighten us with in Mirror Broken #4. These creators take the 1980’s concept of Star Trek and turn it into something that is its accurate inverse (not reverse, mind you) that challenges and disturbs our concept of the comforting and dependable Star Trek: The Next Generation.

In short, it’s bad Star Trek — well, not bad in the sense of its quality, but bad in the sense that the reader needs to think about the ‘wrong way’ that our Captain Picard and crew would go about achieving an objective. He is the dominant force that keeps his crew in thrall, not out of a sense of devotion but out of a recognition of his power and ability to rule well. If you can get that in your head, then you are definitely in the right mode for appreciating this perverted, yet thoroughly enjoyable iteration of TNG.

You just need to look at the tortured and warped version of Guinan to get that concept. I’m sorry… was that too much of a spoiler? Well, take a look at the hinted twisted relationship between Picard and the imprisoned El-Aurian, and you tell me. Guinan doesn’t have the friendship of this universe’s Picard, instead she is his prisoner.

But there is still the idea that her advice and guidance is indispensable to Picard. There will be undoubtedly more to this but in the meantime, the haunting image of Guinan staring out from a small portal in a storage cube is a ripping, incisive one that reminds us of the powerful and intimidating nature of this iteration of Picard.

At this point in the series, Picard and his assembled crew have taken the Enterprise. It’s a war machine – there’s no doubt about that. Gone are the 1000-plus crew roster and the families that were brought aboard and in their place is a skeleton crew of devout Picard loyalists who are able to run the ship with double shifts and a load of former Jellico lackeys offloaded to a prison colony for… insidious research.

The warship Enterprise, with its central phaser cannon, 360-degree weapons array and superior shielding, is ready to take the failing battle against the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance to a new level.

But first, it has to go through Starfleet to prove its mettle. Forced to battle three other Imperial starships (including Picard’s own Stargazer) who seek to place Picard and his crew under arrest for the theft, there’s an incredible battle sequence that makes one reconsider her appreciation for the power of a Galaxy-class warship.

The Enterprise effortlessly shrugs off their attacks, but before anything else can happen, the Imperial Starfleet vessels are surrounded by an entire fleet of Cardassian and Klingon ships looking for a fight. What an awesome place to end, because you know that the next issue is really going to challenge J.K. Woodward’s talent to portray an epic and dynamic space battle.

But starship combat aside, it’s the philosophical underlining that really shines forth. When you look at this iteration of Picard, the Tiptons’ manage to accurately convey that this is the same Picard who strategizes, empathizes and appreciates the limits of his enemy of the prime universe series.

However, when presented with encounters, crew issues, etc., the reader soon sees Picard respond to these encounters with either a brutal or completely self-motivated reaction in that whatever is best for his piratical crew and ship is the surest way for his ship to defeat all-comers is what they should be shooting for.

Covers by J.K. Woodard, Jen Bartel, and George Caltsoudas

Despite their fear of him, the crew will readily accede to his authority because of his demonstrated success. He is a capable ruler who can achieve what he sets out to do. That makes him an authoritative and accepted ruler. They want a piece of his inevitable victory, which is exactly how the Tiptons have presented this character. He’s a winner, regardless of how evil or self-centered his intentions are, and that is the centre of this universe’s premise.

We can all benefit if we work together. But if we settle for intrinsic self-motivation, then only a few of us succeed. That’s the message behind Roddenberry’s original incarnation of the Mirror Universe and it’s a principle that the Tiptons and Woodward brilliantly reinforce here in Mirror Broken #4.

Is this Trek? You’d better damn well believe it is, and that’s a philosophy that I will readily adhere to.

  • iamawild

    I always laugh at this mirror universe caricature of Picard. It’s like looking at a picture of Don Cherry. All we need is Ron Maclean, a plate of wings, a pint of Labatts or Canadian and a hockey game and we’d be set 😀

    • Eric

      Don Cherry lol. Now you’ve totally ruined it for me 😉

  • James

    Incredible artwork!

    • GIBBS v2

      And I absolutely hate it, ha! I think this is the same guy that did the Doctor Who Trek crossover, I could not even finish the trade I purchased. I just can’t stand the crude water color over what is clearly just photoshopped stock character images cut and pasted together. You can tell when the artist is using a real asset versus having to make there own up.

      It’s cool you like but this completley keeps me from buying the series.

  • Aaron

    Been loving this series. Really nice to see a return to the brutality of the Terran Empire. As amazing as DS9 was(is), they really ruined the Mirror Universe, especially in trying to make the terrans sympathetic. The whole point of the mirror universe was that it was supposed to be, well, a mirror on the UFP – the Terran Empire was brutal and awful, the humans were not good people (and based on the Enterprise two-parter, they never were), DS9 ruined that.

  • Rass

    “Originally presented in the 1967 episode “Mirror, Mirror,” the ideals of Roddenberry’s universe”

    That makes no grammatical sense.

  • Eric Watson

    Maybe this was talked about before, or maybe it is addressed in the comics, but DS9 clearly showed that the Empire fell after the events of Mirror Mirror in TOS. Or is this just a similar alternate reality?

    • Aaron

      It is addresses in the comics. Basically, the Terran Empire didn’t completely collapse, but has retreated to just our solar system. For the most part, the rest of the galaxy assumes the Empire has collapsed and is no more. One of the major plot points is the creation of the Galaxy-class Enterprise, a new battleship that can restore the Empire to its former glory.

      • AmiRami

        Interesting.

  • Ian Fleming

    This is interesting. As much as I adore DS9 even I have to admit that beyond the initial Crossover episode they took the Mirror Universe in completely the wrong direction. It was used more as an excuse to play dress-up or bring back dead characters.

    • AmiRami

      Agreed. The first DS9 crossover ep had a point to make. Kirk’s intrusion into that universe and his meddling had ginormous consequences and made the point of why the Prime Directive is so important. The subsequent eps were the producers trying to sex up Star Trek.

      • Ian Fleming

        Yeah, they should have just left it at that.

        • AmiRami

          I mrean I get what they were trying t go for. Ron Moore and Ira Steven Behr were famously pissed on how locked into Roddenberry’s philosophy they were and they wanted their own play pen where they could let loose and go nuts. But it backfired and those Mirror universe eps were not only horrible but unbelievable.

          No one is going to tell me that a clone of the Defiant can successfully fend off an attack from the combined power of the Klingon and Cardassian fleets.

  • AmiRami

    I don’t get it. Shouldn’t humanity be slaves to the Cardassians and Klingons during this time period?

    • Mickey Dair

      They explain that in the comic. Whats left of the empire is hemmed in and can’t venture beyond Earth’s solar system. Any Terran empire occupied world outside the Earth solar system is under Klingon/Cardassian rule. As far as the rest of the galaxy is concerned the Earth is dead or occupied. I think that fits into DS9 continuity as in those mirror universe eps they never said what happened to Earth.

      • AmiRami

        Thanks!

  • AmiRami

    Does anyone else feel that, given current events, we are actually living in the mirror universe of Trek and not the main universe?

    • Simon

      No.