Rich Handley Author and Editor

Star Trek Comics Weekly #69

An ongoing discussion of how the comics provide prequels, sequels, and tie-ins to the Star Trek episodes and films, soon to be a book from BearManor Media. Click here to view an archive of this article series.

69: WildStorm Comics, 2000–2001

Last time, we looked back at two WildStorm tales based on Star Trek: The Next Generation: the Perchance to Dream miniseries and the graphic novel The Gorn Crisis. Those, however, were not the only adventures whose course the publisher charted for Jean-Luc Picard and his crew. So let’s continue our discussion of comic book prequels, sequels, and tie-ins with WildStorm’s one-shot Embrace the Wolf, the four-part miniseries The Killing Shadows, and the graphic novel Forgiveness.

With Embrace the Wolf, writers Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski penned an appropriately horror-tinged sequel to Robert Bloch’s classic episode “Wolf in the Fold,” in which an evil entity called Redjac—which had once possessed a man in Victorian-era London, becoming the serial killer Jack the Ripper—framed Montgomery Scott for multiple murders. The sequel is illustrated by Dave Hoover, Troy Hubbs, Jason Martin, and Christy Stack, with cover art by Travis Charest.

Despite its dated (and at times offensive) views regarding women, the episode provided a fun spotlight on Scotty, and James Doohan clearly enjoyed playing the part of a Starfleet officer in the terrifying position of being wrongfully accused of murder. The mystery aspects and the Jack the Ripper reveal elevated the episode above its misogynistic undertones, and the scenes in which Redjac possesses the Enterprise‘s computer to taunt the crew are downright unnerving. Any chance to revisit Redjac is thus welcome.

Redjac now menaces the once-peaceful population of Enoch-7, where it has possessed numerous citizens and forced them to commit mass murder. Chaos has spread planet-wide, culminating in a large-scale war. When Picard’s crew investigates this sudden and bizarre outbreak of violence, the entity possesses Beverly Crusher, just as it did onscreen with Hengist and Jaris. It then enters the starship’s computer (repeating its tactic from “Wolf in the Fold”), takes over Data’s Sherlock Holmes holodeck program (“Elementary, Dear Data” and “Ship in a Bottle”), and begins killing the crew in a recreation of 19th-century London. Eventually, the android and Geordi La Forge trap the entity in a containment device and imprison it on a lifeless moon.

DC’s first Star Trek run had published a “Wolf in the Fold” sequel in issues #22–33, and it occurred on a world called Enoch IV, where Redjac had also controlled the population. It’s unclear whether this is coincidental or if WildStorm’s Enoch-7 was an intentional homage, but it’s worth noting that the Book of Enoch, an ancient Hebrew apocalyptic religious text, discusses demons and associates evil with fallen angels. Moreover, Cain’s son was named Enoch in Christian mythology, and Cain was a murderer. So Golden and Sniegoski might have been drawing a connection between Redjac and Biblical evils, and DC scribe Tony Isabella may have simply done the same, with no intended connection between the two tales. Nonetheless, it’s great synchronicity.

The story takes place during the show’s seventh season, creating a minor continuity snag. Redjac names a holodeck store Montgomery & Sons, which is located on Scott Street, in order to taunt the Starfleet officers with a mocking reference to Scotty suffering for Redjac’s crimes. However, Picard fails to recognize the name, which is odd since the stardate would place Embrace the Wolf a year or so after the episode “Relics,” in which he and his crew spent time getting to know the engineer.

What’s more, when Redjac brings Picard onto the holodeck, the captain finds himself clad in his 19th-century sailing vessel uniform from Star Trek: Generations. The entity also dresses Data up in his Holmes garb, though how Redjac changes their clothing is unknown. Holodeck occupants choose outfits before entering a program—the attire is not holographic, people do not enter naked, and the crew are not Changelings. If holodecks could instantly simulate clothes suitable to any given program, then costuming would not be necessary and Wesley Crusher would not have embarrassed himself by walking around the Enterprise in a silly-looking silver ski-suit in “Angel One.”

Still, Embrace the Wolf has a lot going for it and the creepy visuals make it a worthy read. Redjac has also appeared in Greg Cox’s Eugenics Wars trilogy, Michael A. Martin’s Beneath the Raptor’s Wing, and Keith R.A. DeCandido’s S.C.E.: Security. It’s no wonder licensed writers keep bringing Redjac back, for despite the episode’s flaws—a sign of the times in which it was written—”Wolf in the Fold” was among the more engaging entries.

Redjac almost returned during DC’s second run as well, courtesy of writer Andy Mangels. The story, a Next Generation tale titled Return of the Wolf, would have been similar in some respects to Embrace the Wolf. As with WildStorm’s one-shot, Return would have featured Redjac and the Holmes program (a natural pair-up, given the Victorian London settings), though the details would have differed. Editor Kim Yale departed DC’s editorial team after accepting the submission, however, and although Mangels discussed the proposal with successor Alan Gold, it never came to pass and remained lost for decades. Thankfully, Eaglemoss published the outline for Return of the Wolf, along with an unfinished script, in volume #138 of the Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection.

Another sequel appeared in the form of The Killing Shadows, written by the late Scott Ciencin, with art by Andrew Currie, Bryan Hitch, Chris Chuckry, and Digital Chameleon. In this four-part miniseries, set between Generations and Star Trek: First Contact, the Bodai Shin, a league of assassins based on Japanese ninjas, attack several Federation science labs for reasons mysterious. They try to murder Picard, but Sela—Tasha Yar’s half-Romulan daughter (“Redemption” and “Unification”), now an outcast from the Empire—saves Jean-Luc’s life, claiming to have been sent by Starfleet.

The Bodai Shin trap the Enterprise inside a sentient entity called the Void, which they revere as a deity of darkness. The league unleashes a techno-plague on the Enterprise and makes Picard and Sela think they plan to launch a weapon of mass destruction, but they’ve actually been testing humanity as part of a larger plot to foster a belief in the Void before the coming darkness arrives. To reward Sela for saving Picard’s life and providing intelligence regarding the Bodai Shin, Starfleet gives her Tasha’s personal belongings… which she promptly destroys, refusing to live in her mother’s shadow.

Unfortunately, the miniseries is rather vague at times, making it difficult to follow. Sela’s role in the story isn’t fully explained, so it’s unclear whether she’s actually working for Starfleet or for the Romulans, or both—or, for that matter, how she gained intelligence about the Bodai Shin in the first place. Perhaps Ciencin had planned to pen a follow-up to The Killing Shadows and bring her back to clear things up, but since he didn’t (and since we can sadly no longer ask him about it), the plot might forever remain disjointed.

Finally, the graphic novel Forgiveness was created by the writer-artist team of David Brin and Scott Hampton. Set between Insurrection and Nemesis, the book revealed the then-untold story of how transporters were invented. This account, however, would be negated four years later by Star Trek: Enterprise‘s “Daedalus,” which established the technology as having been invented by Emory Erickson.

Star Trek and transporters have gone hand in hand since 1965, when the tech appeared in “The Cage” as an alternative to shuttle-based travel. Since then, the ubiquitous platform has become synonymous with Star Trek. Every TV and film iteration of the franchise has featured transporters, while the phrase “Beam me up, Scotty” has earned a place alongside “Live long and prosper” as Trek‘s most recognizable (albeit misquoted) catchphrase.

On TV, Erickson was said to be the first human to be transported by his own invention, though the loss of his son Quinn in one experiment overshadowed his achievements. Quinn ended up lost in subspace due to a sub-quantum transporter malfunction, then Emory spent fifteen years searching for a way to retrieve his signal—which he did with Jonathan Archer’s assistance, but with disastrous results. The opening credits of Star Trek: Discovery honor this innovator with the phrase “Invented by Emory Erickson.”

In WildStorm’s version, futurist Colin Blakeney (drawn to resemble Elon Musk, which has not aged well in light of Musk’s actions, statements, and poor business decisions in recent years) invented a transporter in 2052, but his friend and business partner tried to kill him for reasons too complicated to explain here. Like Quinn, both men ended up caught in the machine’s beam (for three centuries in their case), until the Enterprise-D rematerialized Blakeney, unaware of a second demolecularized individual. Crusher uses a holodeck to help Colin recover missing memories, then his attacker is rescued as well—and Blakeney forgives him since the incident happened so long ago.

Blakeney’s backstory presents another continuity snafu, regarding when it takes place. First Contact and Enterprise‘s “Terra Prime” established World War III as ending in 2053, so the war should be ongoing at the time of this story, yet it is never visually depicted or even mentioned, much like the missing Eugenics Wars in Deep Space Nine‘s “Past Tense.” With global warfare in progress, transporters would give a nation’s military a powerful advantage over its enemies. So it seems unlikely the subject would never come up—unless this is in the timeline altered by Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, and Strange New Worlds, in which the war’s start and end dates differ from those previously established (see It’s Been a Long Road Getting from There to Here).

The graphic novel is largely standalone, though it does tie in with three episodes when Crusher helps Blakeney deal with the trauma of waking up to discover his family is long dead. Deanna Troi worries that this might remind the doctor of similar pain she’d felt on prior occasions: when her husband Jack died (“Encounter at Farpoint” and “Family”), when John Doe left her to become non-corporeal (“Transfigurations”), and when her son Wesley joined the Traveler for a journey around the cosmos (“Journey’s End”). Crusher, of course, never mentions this herself—it’s all just supposition on the empath’s part.

Embrace the Wolf and The Killing Shadows were packaged together with Perchance to Dream as the omnibus edition Enemy Unseen, which featured a cover painting by Drew Struzan, a fan favorite for his dazzling Indiana Jones and Star Wars work. The stories in that edition are the same as in the single releases, but Struzan’s cover alone might justify double-dipping—or triple-dipping, for Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection subscribers. In any case, we’re already nearing the end of our all-too-brief WildStorm discussion, so stay tuned as we revisit the company’s Deep Space Nine and Voyager titles.

Looking for more information about Star Trek comics? Check out these resources:

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.

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