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.
91: IDW Publishing, 2009–2010
Deep Space Nine featured a stellar cast, an immensely talented writing staff, long-spanning character arcs, and a unique approach to storytelling: rather than exploring the galaxy, Benjamin Sisko and his crew stayed in place and let the galaxy come to them. That approach lent itself well to comics, and Malibu, Marvel, and WildStorm each published spinoff tales based on the show. Yet despite the series’ critical acclaim, IDW’s related offerings were noticeably sparse until recent years.
Following WildStorm’s 2001 Star Trek Special, in fact, it would be nearly a decade before the four-color realm would return to the Bajoran wormhole, courtesy of Scott and David Tipton’s Star Trek: Deep Space Nine—Fool’s Gold. Featuring interior art from Fabio Mantovani, Emanuela Lupacchino, and Francesco Lo Storto, this whimsical, lighthearted four-parter sported covers by Joe and Rob Sharp, David Messina, and Giovanna Niro. This was IDW’s first foray with Sisko’s cast, and it’s worth a read.
Fool’s Gold revolves around a hunt for priceless Bajoran treasures embezzled by a Cardassian administrator during the planet’s occupation. When the Cardassians withdrew from the sector and abandoned Terok Nor, this official stashed the loot on Bajor, then hid a treasure map aboard the station, etched inside bulkhead panels, for his sons to retrieve. After the family died, however, the hoard was never recovered. Garak and Gul Dukat apparently each knew about it, and one of them has hatched an elaborate scheme to find the treasure without alerting Sisko or the Bajoran authorities.
This scheme involves having a third-party operative spread rumors about the jewels’ existence and provide a set of clues to any vagabonds, treasure hunters, criminals, and mercenaries willing to pay for that information. Deep Space Nine thus becomes a sudden hub of chaotic activity, with the number of unsavory visitors spiking. Picture a hundred Harry Mudds, Thadiun Okonas, Han Solos, Jack Sparrows, Leonard Snarts, Killian Joneses, and Jayne Cobbs all running around with hidden weapons, ripping the place apart looking for a map. That’s what Sisko, Odo, and Kira Nerys are faced with.
The episode tie-ins are sparse this time around, but there are some worth noting. The comic follows two treasure hunters in particular, a ruffian named Portafoy and his younger partner Quinn, who end up in the amusing position of being hailed as heroes for rescuing a treasure they’d been hoping to steal. At one point, Portafoy summarizes the show’s pilot, “Emissary,” for Quinn—and for any readers unfamiliar with the show—and the writers hang a lantern on a question frequently posed by fans: Why didn’t the Cardassians just blow up the station instead of letting Bajor and Starfleet have it?
Fool’s Gold connects with the film Star Trek Beyond in a manner entirely unintended, as one treasure seeker closely resembles Jaylah’s species. His black-and-white markings are not identical to hers, and the resemblance is coincidental anyway since that movie would not be released until six years after the comic’s publication, but it’s easy to view the two as being from the same world, especially since IDW’s Star Trek: Boldly Go established that members of her species have their own unique facial patterns.
The third-party operative mentioned above will interest fans of Star Trek: The Animated Series, for in addition to being a third party, he also has a third arm and a third leg. When the cartoon aired in the 1970s, fans were introduced to Arex, an alien navigator seated in Pavel Chekov’s chair. In the decades since, few members of his species—either Edoan, Edosian, or Triexian, depending on the source—have been introduced, which is why it was such a headline-making moment when Lower Decks prominentlyfeatured one in “Much Ado About Boimler,” and why the existence of Hallmark’s Arex tree ornament went over well with collectors.
In Fool’s Gold, readers meet an underworld denizen from Arex’s species called Stretch (presumably not his birth-name), and it’s he who has sent all the loot-seekers to the station. Stretch is introduced in a bar on Dessica II, tying in with The Next Generation’s “Gambit” two-parter, in which Picard had been captured by mercenaries searching for the Stone of Gol. It’s unclear whether this bar is the one from “Gambit” or is simply another criminal-populated establishment on the corruptly governed planet, but it certainly could have been the writers’ intent that they be the same place.
It’s Garak who saves the day, as the Cardassian tailor-spy suggests the best way to end the hunt would be to arrange for the treasure to be “found.” Sisko thus strongarms Quark into leading Portafoy and Quinn to a cave full of fake jewels, staged to look like the lost hoard, while Garak, steps ahead of everyone else, secretly tracks down the actual treasure trove for himself. Sisko spends the four issues convinced Dukat is behind the crooked scheme, and that Quark is somehow involved, and he might be right on one or both counts. But given how the story ends, it sure seems like it was plain, simple Garak, that galactic Agatha Harkness, all along.
Next up are a pair of titles centered around the episode “Space Seed” and its theatrical sequel. So read up on your Milton and Melville in the meantime, and we’ll see you back here when we explore the Tiptons’ Khan: Ruling in Hell, as well as IDW’s film adaptation of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Looking for more information about Star Trek comics? Check out these resources:
- My ongoing column for Titan Books’ Star Trek Explorer magazine
- The Complete Star Trek Comics Index, curated 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 (Sequart, 2014)
- Star Trek: A Comics History, by Alan J. Porter (Hermes Press, 2009)
- The Star Trek Comics Weekly page on Facebook
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.