COMIC BOOK REVIEW: STAR TREK VOLUME 9: THE Q GAMBIT / AUTHOR: MIKE JOHNSON / ARTIST: TONY SHASTEEN / PUBLISHER: IDW / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 24TH
For those of you familiar with JJ Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek remake/remodel, you’ll know it all went a bit Star Wars; ditching the more introspective and cerebral elements of the franchise for impressive space battles and slapstick instead. Volume 9 continues the ongoing saga of Kirk and Co. 2.0, with the likeness of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto emboldened across the pages.
Penned by DC alumni Mike Johnson, with art from Tony Shasteen, the book follows on from the Countdown comic series (also penned by Johnson, under Abrams and Orci’s supervision), itself a prequel to the reboot. Spock Prime’s actions in the ’09 film are the catalyst for this series, creating a glut of new stories by way of a destroyed Romulus.
The story catches up with the original Enterprise months into its five year mission, before the crew and vessel are whisked away by Q into a future where the federation no longer exists and Earth has been conquered by the Klingons. Indeed, the story always has one foot in fan-fiction and the other in the conundrum of where to sit the reboot with the rest of the canon.
Following on from the events in the expanded comic universe, Picard is ambassador to Vulcan, while Data is captain of the Enterprise-E. The warm familiarity of Picard and his devilishly Shakespearean interplay with Q is a welcome respite in 2015. Patrick Stewart’s dulcet tones and John de Lancie’s playful quips are loaded into each of their respective speech bubbles.
Q is the tenuous storytelling tool to bridge the gap between the sacrosanct and the alternate reality. It does a decent enough job, reminding readers that whether or not Abrams succeeded is arbitrary, it’s just one of many possible timelines. Shasteen’s art is commendable, capturing the glitz and clarity of Roddenbery’s vision as well as some of the darker side of the series showcased in DS9, but it does often feel limp and formulaic.
The Q Gambit suffers from many of the same problems as Into Darkness, shoe-horning as many references in as possible, simultaneously winding up the core audience and confusing casual viewers. And with episodes like TNG’s Relics and DS9’s Trials and Tribble-ations, it’s nothing fans haven’t seen before. When it comes down to it, its Q’s story and de Lancie always had a baffling ability to steal every episode he was in, and it’s no different with comics.
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