An ongoing discussion of how Star Trek comics provide prequels, sequels, and tie-ins to the episodes and films…
36: Malibu Comics, 1994
When Star Trek: Deep Space Nine debuted on television, the show received much praise for its intriguing characters, its sense of humor, its interweaving of religion and science, its out-of-the-box storytelling approach—station-based rather than starship-centric—and the fact that it opened up a whole new area of the galaxy to explore. It’s no wonder many have hailed it as the best Star Trek TV show to date.
Those same aspects made Malibu Comics’ Deep Space Nine a worthy spinoff, and while the monthly series offered fewer prequels, sequels, and tie-ins to specific episodes than DC Comics did with its titles based on The Original Series and The Next Generation, Malibu’s efforts rang true as an authentic continuation of Star Trek‘s third live-action TV series. This week, we’ll examine monthly issues #11–16, as well as Malibu’s Hearts and Minds miniseries, both edited by Mark Paniccia.
Issue #9 had featured a brief prelude to Hearts and Minds, from writer Mark A. Altman and artists Rob Davis and Terry Pallot, in which the Klingon warship K’tang had stopped at Deep Space Nine before seemingly being destroyed by Cardassians in an area of the Gamma Quadrant called the Abyss. Meanwhile, a Seltari named Maura, for reasons then unexplained, had arranged for access to a shielded area below Quark’s bar. The answers to these mysteries began unfolding that same month in the miniseries, which was again written by Altman and drawn by Davis and Pallot, who also provided the covers.
In Hearts and Minds, the Klingon Empire declares war on Cardassia over the K’Tang‘s destruction. Ben Sisko sends Jadzia Dax and Julian Bashir to investigate while he mediates a cease-fire. A bloody conflict nearly engulfs the quadrant, but the actual perpetrators are exposed: the Romulans, who’d been attempting to spark a war between empires from a secret Gamma Quadrant base. Maura had been smuggling weapons for the Romulans and had needed space on the station so she could supply them with arms via the wormhole. The Seltari coerces Quark into selling her his bar, but the Ferengi, with help from lovable barfly Morn, works with Odo to thwart her plans.
Unlike the monthly series, Hearts and Minds contains many TV tie-ins. Early in the story, as Ben and Jake Sisko play baseball on the holodeck, Ben jokes that he needs more batting practice with Buck Bokai. A personal hero of Sisko, the baseball great was first named in “If Wishes Were Horses,” though he’d been indirectly mentioned in The Next Generation‘s “The Big Goodbye” as a player who had beaten Joe DiMaggio’s record-setting consecutive game hitting streak.
The miniseries makes mention of a Cardassian officer called Mavek. Fans may recall Mavek as a Cardassian who’d worked alongside Kira Nerys in “Rocks and Shoals,” when the Dominion controlled Deep Space Nine, during which he’d frequently brought her raktajinos. But there’s a catch, for this tie-in is purely retroactive—the comic predated that episode by three years, meaning Altman could not have known about the TV character since the latter hadn’t yet existed. Still, that need not rule out the two Maveks as being the same person, because it’s fun to think that they might be, isn’t it?
The miniseries revisits several episodes of The Next Generation. In an effort to calm his mind during negotiations, Sisko reads the writings of Sarek of Vulcan, who is described as “the late ambassador,” referencing his death in “Unification.” Jake Sisko plays a video game called Khitomer Attack, presumably based on the Romulan massacre of Khitomer that killed Worf’s parents, per “Heart of Glory” and “Sins of the Father.” And a Starfleet vessel called the USS Kerapledes is name-checked; despite the different spellings, the ship likely honors Onna Karapleedeez, who’d died under mysterious circumstances when parasitic beings infiltrated Starfleet Command in “Conspiracy.”
Hearts and Minds ties in with several episodes of The Original Series as well. Maura is sentenced to the Tantalus Penal Colony, where Tristan Adams conducted unethical experiments on patients in “Dagger of the Mind.” A Romulan cites Klingon brutality against Federation personnel during the Battle of Donatu V, from “The Trouble With Tribbles.” A commercial for Quark’s bar promises “the best Gorn chef stew in the entire galaxy,” referencing “Arena” (hopefully, he means that he employs a Gorn chef, not that he serves Gorn meat, considering the Gorn are a sapient species). And Starfleet now conducts patrols of the Mutara Sector, from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, presumably because of Genesis being a “planet forbidden.”
In a flashback set during the era of James Kirk’s five-year mission, Torias Dax serves aboard the USS Constellation under the command of a seasoned commodore. The officer’s name isn’t provided, but in “The Doomsday Machine,” the vessel was commanded by Commodore Matt Decker. Torias assists the injured senior officer following a shuttle accident, then a Romulan vessel comes to their aid, leaving Dax with newfound respect for Romulan honor. There’s a certain irony to this flashback, as Torias would eventually die in another shuttle crash, according to the episode “Equilibrium.”
Dax and Bashir visit a planet in the Gamma Quadrant called Caldonia 3. One might assume this world to be located in the same star system as Caldonia, from The Next Generation‘s “The Price.” However, the Bajoran wormhole had not been discovered at the time of that episode, so the Federation would not have yet met the Caldonians had they been from the Gamma Quadrant. (By amusing coincidence, though, the Caldonian featured in “The Price” was among those bidding for the Barzan wormhole.)
Issues #11–13 were written by Charles Marshall, the author of Malibu’s Planet of the Apes line. Each issue featured artwork by Leonard Kirk, Bruce McCorkindale, and Terry Pallot, and Marshall’s stories emphasized the franchise’s humorous side, just as his Apes tales did. In issue #12, for instance, Quark finds an abandoned Bajoran infant in his bar, requiring the Ferengi and the rest of the cast to take turns caring for the baby until her mother can be located. The sight of Quark making diapers out of his colorful clothing, as well as Odo reshaping himself for hours to create various rattles and toys for the screaming child, even as his exhausted body begins to turn gelatinous, is damn funny.
Both issues connect to Deep Space Nine‘s pilot, “Emissary,” via Sisko’s late wife Jennifer, who died aboard the USS Saratoga when that vessel was destroyed by the Borg. In issue #11, Jake reflects on how his father changed after Jennifer’s death, and he wonders how their lives might have differed had she never left them. In #12, Ben recalls when Jake was a baby, and how he’d had to care for their son while she’d attended a meeting. As the show proved time and again, Ben would turn out to be an amazing father.
Marshall’s story in issue #13 shines a spotlight on Odo. Bashir vaccinates all personnel against the Bajoran flu, but the shot causes Odo to become disoriented and dangerously paranoid. Sisko and Bashir force the constable to receive the inoculation despite his protests, which seems irresponsible since they have no idea how his Changeling form will react; it’s no surprise, then, when things go awry. Odo thus hallucinates about experiments to which Bajoran scientist Mora Pol (“The Alternate” and “The Begotten”) subjected him after he was discovered in Bajoran space, as well as the cruelty of Gul Dukat.
A two-parter spans issues #14–15, written by Jerry Bingham and illustrated by Tim Eldred and Bruce McCorkindale. Neither issue directly connects to any particular episodes, though the tale expands on Bajoran spirituality. Rumors of an impending apocalypse cause the Bajorans to panic, with mob violence disrupting Deep Space Nine. Dax tracks a comet on a collision course with the wormhole, while an underground cult welcomes the cataclysm, intending to claim the planet once the surface-dwellers die. As the cult’s priest warns Sisko not to interfere in the devastation, his followers wreak havoc aboard the station until Dax can avert the apocalypse.
Finally, in issue #16, written by novelist John Vornholt, a Jerakan freighter seeking to shanghai laborers conscripts Quark and Rom as scullery mates. Rom is Odo in disguise, however, and he forces the Jerakans to return to Deep Space Nine and cease all kidnappings (after which, oddly enough, the Bajorans happily enter into labor contracts with the traders, for some reason forgiving their history of abducting people). When Quark returns to the station, he’s shocked to find that his brother—who hadn’t expected him to return—has renamed the bar Rom’s Casino. Their exchange provides a humorous and charming cap to the story, as “the brothers Quark” often do onscreen.
Vornholt’s story may feature a subtle connection to The Original Series, as the Jerakans hail from Merak III. Presumably, the planet is in the same star system as Merak II, a Federation member world which, in “The Cloud Minders,” had experienced a bacterial botanical plague that was treated with zenite. The connection could be mere happenstance, of course, as Merak II is a rather obscure entry in the annals of Star Trek. However, considering Vornholt’s status as the author of 25 Trek novels, it would be not at all surprising if the homage were intentional.
This column will continue exploring Malibu’s Deep Space Nine comics in two weeks, including a sequel to Hearts and Minds titled Lightstorm. But first, we’ll return to DC’s Next Generation landscape—including a special crossover with Malibu, teaming up the crews of Benjamin Sisko and Jean-Luc Picard. See you then.
Looking for more information about Star Trek comics? Check out these resources:
- The Complete Star Trek Comics Index, by yours truly
- The Star Trek Comics Checklist, by Mark Martinez
- The Wixiban Star Trek Collectables Portal, by Colin Merry
- New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, by Joseph F. Berenato
- Star Trek: A Comics History, by Alan J. Porter
Rich Handley has written, co-written, co-edited, or contributed to dozens of books, both fiction and non-fiction, about Planet of the Apes, Watchmen, Back to the Future, Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, Stargate, Dark Shadows, The X-Files, Twin Peaks, Red Dwarf, Blade Runner, Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman, the Joker, classic monsters, and more. He has also been a magazine writer and editor for nearly three decades. Rich edited Eaglemoss’s Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection, and he currently writes articles for Titan’s Star Trek Explorer magazine, as well as books for an as-yet-unannounced role-playing game. Learn more about Rich and his work at richhandley.com.