Warp Factor Trek

The Star Trek Fan Website

This third Star Trek: Discovery comic story, after The Light of Kahless and a 2018 annual, is set entirely in the Mirror Universe. All the characters in the story are native to that reality. Like The Light of Kahless, it’s both a prequel and a sequel to specific events portrayed in Discovery. The comic exposes the barbarism of the Terran Empire, immersing us into a world of power struggles, deceptions and unexpected alliances.

Log Entry

A year after Burnham orchestrated Emperor Georgiou’s downfall alongside Lorca and was intimate with him, ISS Charon’s destruction and Georgiou’s death lead to her nephew, Alexander, proclaiming himself emperor. On Terran-occupied Qo’noS, L’Rell plots for the rebels to attack Earth. Alexander aims to commit galactic genocide; however, Commander Cornwell, deeming Alexander insane, secretly plans to rally Lorca’s remaining supporters. Amid this turmoil, the ISS Shenzhou’s bridge crew are killed by Airiam, commandeering the ship. In a refugee camp on Risa, the philanthropic Harry Mudd meets Burnham, who has seemingly returned from the dead.

Harry Mudd… and, a decade earlier, young Michael Burnham

Ten years earlier, Burnham received fencing training from Emperor Georgiou and was taunted by young Alexander, who arrogantly predicted she would never rule. Presently, Burnham informs Mudd that Georgiou chose her as rightful heir. She urges Mudd to join her in opposing Alexander but he declines. With Alexander dreaming of defeating Burnham, Cornwell aids him in his genocidal plan. As part of that plan, the Shenzhou is ordered to Gemaris V. Captain Airiam instead destroys the space station that the ship is launched from, changing loyalties from the Terran Empire and redirecting the ship towards Qo’noS. As Terran troops withdraw from the planet, Burnham recruits L’Rell’s rebel band. They storm Imperial headquarters and question a governor there but he escapes to the ISS Constellation.

Eighteen months previously, Emperor Georgiou tasked her commanders with capturing Lorca, for which Cornwell volunteered, although news of Burnham’s death complicated things. Now, the escaped governor tells Alexander that Burnham is alive and allied with the Klingons, leading Alexander to have Captain Tracey confine the governor to an agonizer for failing to capture Burnham. Burnham alerts L’Rell that Alexander plans to attack Qo’noS, and the Shenzhou intercepts the gene-weapon from the Constellation, crippling that ship. Burnham, Amanda Grayson, L’Rell and Kol are transported to the Shenzhou, where Airiam dispels suspicions by shooting her own guards. With Burnham expressing disinterest in becoming the next emperor, Cornwell takes the group to confront Alexander as his prisoners. During a violent encounter, he kills Amanda Grayson and Cornwell attempts to overwhelm him but fails, as he anticipated her attack. Meanwhile, Airiam readies the gene-weapon on the Shenzhou.

Airiam orders for the weapon to be prepared

L’Rell and Kol fight off their captors, taking Alexander hostage. Burnham kills Cornwell and Kol kills Alexander, so Burnham becomes the new emperor, having tricked Cornwell. Burnham admits that she never betrayed Georgiou for Lorca — she simply ingratiated herself to him so she could more easily scupper his plans. Burnham promises to treat her Klingon citizens well. Airiam pledges allegiance to Burnham but Kol calls her tyrannical. At her coronation, she and her masses of Terran followers are poisoned — Airiam has deployed the gene-weapon, keying it to Human DNA. She plans to install L’Rell and Kol as governors of Qo’noS, much like Burnham had promised beforehand. In an epilogue, the ISS Enterprise’s CO records a captain’s log, reacting to Airiam’s succession as emperor.

Status Report

This comic gives us excellent insights before and after the USS Discovery’s visit to the Mirror Universe towards the end of Star Trek: Discovery’s first season. I like how prequel scenes, showing Mirror Burnham’s upbringing, are included. In light of the destruction of the ISS Charon in “What’s Past is Prologue”, it makes sense for this comic to also follow the events thereafter.

Alexander in both boyhood… and adulthood

It probably would have helped if the heretofore unknown “Lord Alexander”, presumably named after Alexander the Great, had been a Mirror version of a recognisable character. I also wish we saw more of Mirror Mudd, as his altruistic activities are fascinating.

I appreciate that the comic implies that Mirror Sarek was killed in an attack on Harlak, since canon depicts the attack without clarifying if he was amongst those who failed to escape from it. Conversely, the comic also leaves us with some mysteries. How did Mirror Burnham survive the destruction of her shuttle, and how did Mirror L’Rell know who she was?

Airiam craftily eavesdropping on a conversation

Mirror Airiam’s takeover of the ISS Shenzhou is predictable, given that she’s shown in closeup, looking sneaky, immediately before it. Her multiple mutinies have interesting parallels with how Prime Airiam, taken over by Control, turns violently against her crew in the second season. Having a universe where even an android plots and schemes emphasises the unpredictability of that setting.

The double-crossing is so rife that, by the time Airiam kills Burnham and takes the throne in the fourth issue, it feels like it would be more unexpected if this didn’t happen. At least the fourth issue ends stylishly, though, with the appearance of the ISS Enterprise at the end of the story echoing how the USS Enterprise appears at the end of Discovery’s first season.

The ISS Enterprise appears, flying majestically through a nebula
Rating: 3/5

I like how the chronological setting of much of this story after Discovery’s visit to the Mirror Universe means that the comic bridges the gap between Discovery and TOS portrayals of the Mirror Universe. I particularly love seeing the Mirror versions of Burnham, San Francisco Bay, L’Rell, Amanda Grayson, Risa, Mudd, Captains Tracey and Decker, Decker’s starship Constellation, and lastly, the ISS Enterprise. However, the comic is overly complex to a regular viewer of Star Trek: Discovery, delving into a relatively obscure part of the show’s narrative, so it’s unfortunately not very accessible. Even so, it can be enjoyed by those who understand what’s going on, and the machinations in particular make for some fun reading.

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