Rich Handley Author and Editor

Star Trek Comics Weekly #136

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.

136: IDW Publishing, 2018

It’s been a long road getting from there to here, but after a five-month hiatus (see Star Trek Comics Weekly #135), I’m finally back to writing this column. “Last time on Star Trek: The Next Generation,” as the late Majel Barrett-Roddenberry used to say, I explored how IDW’s Through the Mirror connected to the shows and films, specifically The Original Series‘ “Mirror, Mirror” and its sequels. So it’s fitting that this column’s return should discuss the next chapter in that storyline, ST:TNG—Terra Incognita.

Writers Scott and David Tipton first explored the mirror universe with Mirror Images, then delved more deeply into that reality’s 24th century in their Mirror Broken miniseries. Through the Mirror picked up shortly thereafter, with mirror-Jean-Luc Picard attempting an incursion into the prime reality. That tale ended with alternate Reg Barclay deserting his post to remain in the prime universe after witnessing how little respect his double received from shipmates. And that brings us to Terra Incognita, the last—and, I’d argue, best—chapter to date in the Tiptons’ ongoing mirror universe saga.

Terra Incognita #1–3

Beautifully illustrated by Tony Shasteen, Carlos Nieto, and Angel Hernández, with covers by Shasteen, Elizabeth Beals, and James Kenneth Woodward, Terra Incognita is admittedly more a prime-universe comic than a mirror-universe one. Very little of the story, other than a few panels in issue #6, occur in the other reality, with mirror-Barclay remaining under the radar for pretty much the entire miniseries as he strives to boost his non-confident counterpart’s credibility and clout by proving himself a skilled engineer capable of thinking outside the box—and that’s precisely why it works so well.

Terra Incognita #4–6

The comic is set in the wake of the Borg’s Starfleet decimation at the Battle of Wolf 359 (“The Best of Both Worlds), as well as Deep Space Nine‘s devastating Cardassian conflict. The Enterprise-D crew carry out episodic missions to various worlds, unaware of an intruder in their midst since, intriguingly, said intruder doesn’t do much that would be labeled villainous (much like the Changeling who’d posed as Julian Bashir for multiple episodes of Deep Space Nine). He mostly follows the rules, shows Picard and Geordi La Forge respect, is instrumental in completing missions and saving lives, advises Wesley Crusher on how to take risks, and even dates Sonya Gomez (from “Q Who” and “Samaritan Snare,” and more recently Lower Decks‘ “First First Contact”).

Reginald Barclay 2.0

He’s Reg 2.0, and while admittedly evil at heart, in pretty much every respect he does a better job of it. If you overlook the abduction of his prime double, as well as some racist comments about Cardassians, mirror-Barclay is otherwise an exemplary Starfleet officer (shades of Star Trek: Discovery‘s mirror-Gabriel Lorca), and though he’s forced to return to his own reality, there’s a sense that he would prefer to remain in the prime timeline. Dragged back home to face the consequences of desertion, he avoids punishment by convincing mirror-Picard he was working for the Empire all along, but readers know the truth: he’d gone native and, unlike Lorca, doesn’t want to leave. It’s great character work, offering an original and unexpected take on mirror universe lore.

No doubt they shared many holodeck adventures and spilled many hot chocolates together.

In the opening issues, Captain Robert DeSoto and the USS Hood (mentioned in “Encounter at Farpoint” and “The Pegasus,” and shown onscreen in “Tin Man”) work alongside the Enterprise crew during negotiations with the Cardassians, affording La Forge a chance to reminisce with his former commander. Alas, Will Riker, who’d been DeSoto’s first officer, misses out on the reunion, though Picard spends time in a friendly fencing match with his old comrade.

Captain Robert DeSoto

Issue #3 examines the familial background of Doctor Selar (“The Schizoid Man”). In a flashback to her childhood, Selar visits ancient temple ruins with her parents, which her father Sakar considers as important as the Temple of Amonak, whose priests prayed for Tuvok’s return in Star Trek: Voyager‘s “Hunters.” After Sakar dies in an archeological accident, her mother T’Maak brings his katra to Mount Selaya, recalling Spock’s fal-tor-pan refusion in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In DC Comics’ Star Trek: The Next Generation #21, Selar’s father was alive and named Selak, but one can assume T’Maak remarried after Sakar’s passing, and that Selak is the stepfather who raised her.

Doctor Selar, a dead-ringer for dead K’Ehleyr

In the comic’s “present,” Selar becomes custodian to the katra of critically injured Vulcan Ambassador Hendryk (an amusingly non-Vulcan-like name), and is asked to leverage his knowledge and expertise to complete his diplomatic work with the Cardassians. This gives Selar pause, for she considers it unethical to take advantage of a person’s katra without consent. Thus, Picard shares with her his own experience of mind-melding with Sarek to complete the Legaran mission (“Sarek”). Comforted, Selar continues Hendryk’s work in his name, then delivers the man’s soul to Mount Selaya as well.

Climbing the steps of Mount Selaya

The fifth issue sees the Enterprise crew responding to a deadly planetary plague that causes psychotic rage, and Beverly Crusher, Data, and mirror-Barclay discover it’s not actually a disease at all (which is a relief, since the number of plagues Crusher has had to cure in the comics is staggering). Rather, the once aquatic culture had used genetic manipulation to reverse evolution and return to the seas, inadvertently destabilizing their physiology. Multiple starships arrive to evacuate the population if needed, and trivia-minded fans will note that all of them were featured or mentioned in past episodes.

Sarek of Vulcan: a terrible father, but a great ambassador

These include the Charleston (The Next Generation‘s “The Neutral Zone”), the Repulse (“The Child”), the Zhukov (“Hollow Pursuits”), the Exeter (“Chain of Command”), the Odyssey (Deep Space Nine‘s “The Jem’Hadar”), the Venture (“The Way of the Warrior”), the Tecumseh (“Nor the Battle to the Strong”), the Fredrickson (Voyager‘s “Relativity”), the Challenger (“Endgame”), the Archer (Star Trek: Nemesis—named after Star Trek: Enterprise‘s Jonathan Archer), and even the Leeds, which appeared in Deep Space Nine‘s opening credits beginning with season four. Those who collect the starship models from Eaglemoss and Master Replicas will likely recognize several of these.

A joy for starship fans… a research nightmare for obsessive-compulsive column writers.

It’s good to be back in the space-saddle, especially since I recently signed a contract to explore this column’s subject matter in an upcoming book from BearManor Media. In the next installment, we’ll look back at another IDW multi-franchise crossover, Star Trek vs. Transformers, which saw the Hasbro franchise’s vehicular-morphing Autobots and Decepticons meeting the cast of the 1970s’ Star Trek: The Animated Series. Ridiculous, you say? Well, sure, yeah—but also surprisingly fun. See you then.

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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