Let’s talk about boldly going

Boldly go and read this

Publisher: IDW
Writer Ryan North
Artist Chris Fenoglio
Lettering by Johanna Nattalie & Jake Wood

Those of you who are new may not have read my reviews extolling the virtues of Star Trek Lower Decks the comic. Now the trade is out I’m here to praise it all over again. It’s honestly the best Star Trek tie in licensed comic I’ve read. Sire IDW have done a great job expanding out the world of Star Trek creating a legacy of stories if you will but whilst I enjoy them none have felt quite like a continuation of a show than this.

I suppose one thing that Lower Decks has as an advantage is that it’s an animated show which naturally would suit comic book art as a medium for telling new stories yet it takes that and runs with it. The writing is pitch perfect, the art is pitch perfect and the lettering is pitch perfect. People talk about an immersive experience but honestly reading this is like watching an episode of the show (maybe two episodes could have been a two parter).

If you are unfamiliar with Lower Decks as a show then yes its animated Star Trek but not like the animated series. It’s modern animation which actually portrays human movements effectively (not like the animated series). It’s also more of comedy, a workplace comedy essentially (only actually funny and with a huge amount of heart and Star Trek ideals). It follows the adventures of the USS Cerritos a California class starship that specialises in second contact (you know after the important first contact someone has to follow up and do the mundane stuff). We follow mostly the lower decks crew those ensigns who take care of the everyday running of the ship as situations ensue with shenanigans.

This trade works by taking the essence of an episode; bridge crew have the big mission, the lower decks crew are doing something else as some point they intersect and runs with it. The bridge crew are doing a second contact mission which predictably goes a bit wrong. For the lower decks crew have that classic holodeck goes wrong story. This is a great choice and a perfect fit as Boimler, Mariner, Rutherford and Tendi find themselves interacting with a sentient version of Dracula in a take on the classic TNG episode ‘Elementary Dear Data’ with a twist.

Ryan North writing really gets what a good Lower Decks plot should be. There needs to be fun, twists, humour and copious amounts of references to previous Star Trek episodes and concepts. Part of the fun in the reread value is going through and managing to pick out all the references and feeling rather smug about it all. There are of course lists provided so you can check how well you did.

Yet the references never overwhelm the plot. The sentient Dracula hologram is one of the best new characters you’ll see in. Star Trek comic. He’s interesting, gives our heroes a friend and a foe and ends up… well to say more would be spoilers. The bridge crew plot also has copious references as Captain Freeman, Shax and Doctor T’Ana find themselves in trouble with the Qvanti as second contact doesn’t go as planned.

The plot is absolutely what you’d want from a Lower Decks episode. Full of humour and references as well as a plot that maintains interest. I don’t want to say much because of spoilers. Suffice to say it is so true to the show.

What’s also true to the show is the art. Chris Fenoglio does a brilliant job of capturing the art style of the show. Visually the characters, the ship it’s all exactly like the show and when the source material is animated and is such a distinct style it is important to get that right. That’s exactly what he does. You feel you are seeing what you want and expect. It means too that new characters, like Dracula, with their designs just fit nicely and naturally into the world of Lower Decks.

That’s not only true of the character designs but also the composition of panels. It’s not easy to capture the movement of an animated show in just still art but here that movement has been nailed. The art feels dynamic, you could be watching the show. There are so many nice touches that just evoke everything I love about the style of the animation. That’s not easy to do but it’s absolutely successful here.

Plus there are also some really nice references in the art itself. These visual references just reinforce the whole homage aspect but it’s a loving and interesting homage.

I’ve not even mentioned the lettering which also is excellent. In the show we don’t see the dialogue so it’s important that it’s not obtrusive. It isn’t and again just works.

If you love Star Trek then this trade is for you. It’s visually appealing with solid lettering and a fun plot with humour, heart and references. Anyone who enjoys Lower Decks will enjoy this as it does feel like another episode, a bonus one if you will. I really enjoyed both reading and rereading. It’s well worth your time and effort to pick up. If you read only one Star Trek comic this year make is so this one.

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