IDW Publishing’s Star Trek: The Next Generation – Mirror Broken miniseries concludes with its final chapter soon, but today we’re taking a look at a special Loot Crate-exclusive issue of this alternate universe tale, which was bundled in the subscription service’s September release: “Origin of Data,” a prequel shedding light on how this dark version of Data joined Picard’s crew.
If you haven’t been following this incredible series from IDW, this is David and Scott Tipton’s story of the captain and crew of the warship ISS Enterprise-D in the Mirror Universe. With Josh Hood on pencil duty – based on original illustrations by J.K. Woodward – this is an interstitial moment before Picard’s hand-picked crew of the ISS Stargazer ready themselves to take the Enterprise for their own.
Remember: that’s how things work in this universe, right? Assassination, revolution, usurpation – you name it. All the dirty tricks under the sun make for an ideal promotion in this reality.
Which makes it fun. Let’s face it: a captain like Kirk, who is prey to his impulses and baser instincts yet still retains his command training makes for an inverse character that Star Trek fans want to see. Likewise, the same goes for this version of Captain Picard. But this is a captain who isn’t just evil, he manages to think outside the box in order to secure his own priorities, yet can still also consider the welfare of the Empire.
Essentially, he’s an enlightened, intrinsically motivated version of the Jean-Luc we know and love, as Scott Tipton told me when I spoke to him about this special issue.
In some ways, he’s better with people than prime Picard, but he wouldn’t be as likely to be taking the moral high ground.
I find myself liking this Captain Picard more than the regular version. Why? Well, perhaps this iteration is releasing a latent aspect of Picard’s personality that Scott and David Tipton have seen and are capitalizing on that fans never thought about, at least, not consciously? Maybe it’s just that I like to see a completely uninhibited Picard who is willing to engage in tactics that our Picard would not stoop to because of a moral compass.
Of course, that’s the thing about being ‘bad’ isn’t it? It’s not just about letting go of those inhibitions and the beast within, but about knowing when is the right time to do it. The Tiptons’ Picard has all of these characteristics but also an enlightened sense of timing.
“Origin of Data” shows us how this universe’s Data came to join Picard’s command. It’s remarkably astute as we see the under-valued Data, toiling valueless in mines for his creator, Noonien Soong, and Captain Picard, considering the advantages a liberated android like Data would pose for him and his crew. Picard isn’t about evil choices – he’s about making high-yield, self-interested ones.
There’s a great scene where we see Picard visibly intrigued by the possibilities a sentient android could offer his ship – and his own advancement. Yet it’s Noonien Soong who actively provides the groundwork for these thoughts while championing the merits of his own scientific achievements. In these panels, a plan is hatched and therein lies the basis of Data’s origins as a Starfleet officer under Picard’s command.
Of course, Picard has to deal with the same issues that the Prime Universe Picard had to deal with as Data discovers more about his sentience and his relationship to humanity. While we only get a few pages, it’s clear that the Tiptons had to explore this topic in great depth.
David and I thought a lot about these characters. We wanted to move away from just cartoon evil characters.
For a one-shot, it’s a book that gives the reader a lot to digest. Not only do we have to think about what other adventures Picard and Data have shared between his liberation and the moment before the seizure of the Enterprise, but we also have to think about what Data has learned as well.
As we saw in Mirror Broken #4, Barclay notices that Picard and Data have a special relationship. In the prime universe, Picard sees himself as a mentor to allowing Data to understand humanity better to relate to it. In this universe, it’s clear that Picard needs Data to understand humanity to better exploit its weaknesses for him.
It looked like a difficult book to write, especially given its unique positioning between issues. Scott shared some of his creative process with me.
It was assigned to us as a one shot after we had already plotted the series and Loot Crate really wanted something special to fit their android theme.
It had to come together fast, since we had a serious drop-dead date. It was a couple of days for the proposal, a few days of back-and-forth for the plotting, and then a couple of weeks for the scripting.
The toughest part was squeezing it between our deadlines for Issues 3 and 4.
There were a couple of other things that made this book really stand out as well. For one thing, the book’s nature — a full comic release exclusively for their subscribers — was a first for Loot Crate. Second, Scott and David managed to fit a bit of obscure fun for themselves into the book as well.
This book is a major coup for the Tiptons and Hood. A successful story in its own right, but does this mean that Loot Crate will consider doing more original stories like this?
We knew this was a great opportunity. Up until this point, Loot Crate had only done variant covers. This was all new content.
The other aspect to this book that Scott shared with me is that it allowed him and David a chance to play with some of the canonical aliens of the series and insert them into the story: Data crushes a Saurian in one panel, which is one of the writer’s favorite obscure Trek alien races.
It’s these little details that artists insert into their stories that you want to look for. They’re fun and they demonstrate a great deal of thought and care that went into the writing of this particular, interstitial book. In fact, should Loot Crate ever want to try this again, they know which team to call.
Though this is late, like I said, the quality of this book really stands out. I hope that IDW finds away to make this chapter available for wider release at some point; perhaps in the trade release of the Mirror Broken story next spring? Otherwise, fans may have to head to eBay or other resellers to track this issue down.
It’s an amazing story that lends more background to the developing relationship between Picard and Data that also gives us more to look forward in the regular Mirror Broken series.