Monday, November 24, 2008

Star Trek: The Worst of Both Worlds

Feeling deeply disappointed with all the latest Trek comics from IDW I decided to spend some time revisiting some of the older DC Comics adventures from the 80s and 90s.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover how well so many of these storylines hold up. One of my favorite tales from the Star Trek The Next Generation comic series was published as a 4 part extravaganza leading up to the book's 5oth issue.

The story aptly titled "The Worst of Both Worlds", shows us what might've happened if the Federation had not been able to defeat the Borg during the battle of Wolf 359 in the TNG 2 part episode "The Best of Both Worlds". During a mission that takes Picard and company back to the scene of their past confrontation with the Borg, a mysterious anomaly sends the Enterprise to an alternate universe where the events of Wolf 359 played out differently and the crew was never able to rescue Picard from his Borg captors. Locutus and the Borg proceeded to defeat Starfleet at Wolf 359 and then made their way to earth where they have assimilated a great deal of humanity and turned Starfleet headquarters into the central hub of operations for their hive.

Since Picard is still Locutus in this alternate universe, the Enterprise crew in this reality is led by Captain Riker and his first officer is none other than the two timing Commander Shelby, whom you might recall tried very hard to take over Riker's position in the "Best of Both Worlds". She's still up to her old ways, but she's even more aggressive since things have gotten pretty desperate for these people. Shelby is planning a mutiny behind Riker's back and could potentially jeopardize a last ditch effort by him and the crew of the prime universe Enterprise who have agreed to help him in a risky attempt to retrieve Locutus from the Borg.

This is a big plot driven epic that works so well simply because it never looses sight of its characters. Some very effective scenes feature alternate universe Geordi unable to work alongside prime universe Data since in this reality the android was destroyed in the fight against the Borg, and Geordi can't deal with the pain of seeing an alternate version of his long gone friend. Another highlight is a subplot with alternate universe Miles O' Brien who has lost both his wife Keiko, and their daughter Molly to the Borg. When he comes aboard the Enterprise from the prime universe he gets to see the family he lost alive and well. Their presence drives him to a desperate act in the final issue of the tale. Things get even more exciting when the crew infiltrates Starfleet command where we get to see a lot of Borg action. The sequence features various panels filled with Borg drones working on their human victims.

The artwork is top notch and writer Michael Jan Friedman has a pretty good understanding of these characters. This tale could've easily been filmed as another two part cliffhanger for the show. The only thing that would have made that impossible is the scale of the story, which would have been impossible to achieve on a TV budget. The great thing about the comic book format is that the writer has no budgetary limits imposed on his creativity. This tale utilizes the format perfectly and there is nothing here that makes you feel you are reading something that doesn't hold up to its source material.

If you are just as disappointed with IDW's Trek related books as I am then I highly suggest you stop spending your cash on those and instead pick up GIT's Star Trek Complete Comic Book Collection on DVD where you can find the entire DC Star Trek TNG run along with every Trek comic ever published (excluding the IDW stuff). You'll be glad you did.

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