Warp Factor Trek

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Following Star Trek: Discovery’s Season 2 finale was clearly a challenge. The two-part “Such Sweet Sorrow” was a game-changer that sent the USS Discovery into the far future, with a cover-up faking its destruction. Let’s explore how IDW’s range of Star Trek: Discovery comics proceeded from there, with this three-issue comics mini-series…

Log Entry

On Qo’noS, members of House Kor angrily discuss Chancellor L’Rell and her self-proclaimed title, “Mother.” The House’s patriarch wants to kill her but his son, the long-haired Kor, says he’ll deal with her instead. L’Rell and Pike discuss peace, Pike later (in his captain’s log) reflecting on their similarities. In Spock’s childhood, Burnham defended him against bullies. Now, bearded Spock, on leave and missing Burnham, ponders returning to the Enterprise. His mother Amanda gives him a copy of Through the Looking Glass which Burnham left for him. Addressing the Klingon High Council, L’Rell plans to listen to the Federation’s peace overtures but anticipates future conflict. Pike recruits Spock as an adviser for a forthcoming peace summit. L’Rell interrupts Kor’s bat’leth training to appoint him as head of her personal security for the summit.

An imposing Klingon ship arrives at the planet Vaset III

On Vaset III, a Federation assembly prepares for the peace talks while a Klingon cleave ship looms in the planet’s atmosphere. The Klingon delegation arrives on a shuttle. L’Rell seems to act brusquely towards the Federation representatives but this appeals to Andorian Starfleet Admiral Shellak. Spock believes Michael Burnham should be at the peace talks instead of him, especially as he doubts the two sides will attain peace. Thinking she’s content to have sacrificed her son Tenavik so she could become figurative mother to all Klingons, L’Rell seeks Spock’s advice on enemies within her staff. After Pike slurps down a big bowl of gagh at a ceremonial meal, masked assailants attack. Pike and Spock escape through a window. The attackers are some of L’Rell’s internal opponents, calling themselves “the Shadows of Kahless.” Spock meanwhile carries Pike through the planet’s icy wilderness.

Spock carrying Pike

The Shadows of Kahless tell L’Rell that they plan to execute her on Qo’noS and have commandeered her cleave ship. Spock meanwhile realises that he is exactly where he needs to be and that the attackers are the Klingon traitors L’Rell mentioned. Leaving Pike safely indoors, he thwarts them, rescuing L’Rell. Remotely, she regains control of her ship and crashes it into a mountain. With Pike and Spock back aboard the Enterprise, Number One regrets having missed Pike eat gagh. In sickbay. L’Rell visits Kor (who is wearing a head bandage), admitting she suspected him initially but is now convinced that he is loyal to her. L’Rell departs to deal with her remaining enemies on Qo’noS. Realising he mustn’t let Burnham’s absence affect him, a now clean-shaven Spock returns to duty.

Status Report

Setting this comic immediately before the final scene of Discovery Season 2 makes its title, “Aftermath”, a tad misleading. The first scene, on Qo’noS, provides great continuity with the show’s second season, featuring links to the episodes “Point of Light”, “Through the Valley of Shadows”, and “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2”. Humour comes in the form of Pike trying to recall the name “gagh”. Him referring — in his captain’s log — to Discovery having been destroyed is a brilliant touch, keeping up the facade of the starship’s fate. This clearly differentiates his log from Spock’s personal log entry at the end of “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2”, in which Spock speaks as though Burnham is still alive and has simply disappeared. A flashback scene showing childhood Spock be bullied, like in “Yesteryear” and the 2009 movie, adds nostalgia to issue #1. It’s fascinating that the Vulcan bullies — using the Vulcan language — are offended because Spock is speaking “Human” (aka English).

The trio of Vulcan bullies confront Spock

Issue #2 begins with more fantastic humour — banter between Pike and Spock. The Federation’s responses to the arrival of L’Rell’s Klingon delegation are also brilliantly comedic. Spock’s role in the summit foreshadows his career as a diplomat by the time of TNG’s “Unification” two-parter. His doubt about peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire is an intriguing contrast to his later role in achieving it in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Meanwhile, L’Rell thinking about Tenavik is poignant but portrayed highly succinctly. Whereas watching Pike have to slurp down a bowl of gagh is fun, the ceremonial meal being crashed by masked marauders excitingly brings action and intrigue. The second issue ends with a brilliant cliffhanger, showing L’Rell in jeopardy and Spock carrying an unconscious Pike in the middle of nowhere. Though Pike is seemingly on the edge of death, anyone who’s seen Strange New Worlds or the TOS two-parter “The Menagerie” knows he’ll survive.

Even so, Pike’s condition continues to shock, in issue #3. On the other hand, it’s enjoyable seeing Spock triumph against the masked assailants and rescue L’Rell. Seeing Kor rest in a sickbay that’s highly reminiscent of Doctor McCoy’s sickbay from TOS adds a brilliant touch of visual continuity.

L’Rell and Kor in the Enterprise’s sickbay
Rating: 4/5

This is a great comic, nicely fleshing out relations between the Klingons and Starfleet while Spock’s character arc provides valuable insight into the backstory of Strange New Worlds. The character likenesses are on top form and, as per usual, the Klingon machinations thrill. It’s also fantastic to see a young Kor, foreshadowing “Errand of Mercy”. Despite the decades of Klingon makeup differences between TOS and Discovery, he really looks like he fits in, presumably a difficult task to pull off. Other than this comic having a slightly misleading title, it would have been good if the comic advanced the story a bit more. It unfortunately leaves unclear whether Kor is scheming behind L’Rell’s back and what stage Ash Tyler is at, having become a full commander in Section 31 by the end of the “Such Sweet Sorrow” two-parter. Despite these flaws, this is a fun read.

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