Star Trek: Holo-ween, Issue 1 in Review
In this debut issue of a new four-part TNG comics mini-series by IDW, fear starts to consume the Enterprise-D. Is this issue bloody fang-tastic?
In her log, Counselor Deanna Troi contemplates fear. The ship’s crew has endured an anxiety-ridden journey through a solar storm. Attempting to raise the crew’s spirits, she suggests a Halloween-themed party to Captain Picard, who approves her idea. Meanwhile, a mysterious energy lifeform boards the ship. A competitive pair of astrometrics staffers, after skiing on the holodeck, are attacked there by the entity. Notified of their disappearance by Worf, Picard orders a large-scale search for them.
Lieutenant Albert Bloch is commencing work as a sickbay-assigned security officer when he receives orders to concentrate on the search for the missing couple. It’s an instruction from an anonymous source. Becoming trapped in the holodeck, Bloch encounters the alien. He shoots it with his phaser, which downs the lifeform, but is unable to contact security. As he tries to do so, it creeps up behind him. One by one, he and various other crewpeople mysteriously go missing. The entity, calling itself “Redjac”, taunts the crew using the ship’s PA system.
Familiar with the entity’s name, Picard places the Enterprise on lockdown. Deanna is concerned about the crew falling prey to fear. Reginald Barclay desperately consults her about feeling guilty that he’s caused the ship’s current predicament, but she assures him otherwise. At Doctor Crusher’s invitation, Troi begins counseling the terrified in sickbay, though she fears being overwhelmed.
Data investigates an odd power surge in the holodeck but gets trapped in a variation of his 1890s London holoprogram. He is confronted by Redjac-possessed Bloch, aptly dressed in Victorian clothing, and mentions Redjac’s alias Jack the Ripper. Bloch attacks Data but has minimal effect and Data retaliates with a blow that knocks Bloch onto the holographic street. Redjac admits to using Bloch to secure Borg nanoprobes, which Redjac now absorbs. He chops off Data’s head and turns him into a simulacrum of Frankenstein’s monster. Fear is contagiously spreading through the crew as Bloch and the monstrified Data exit the holodeck.
Given this comic series’ somewhat punny title, it came as an intriguing surprise that the story begins with Counselor Troi in deeply serious contemplation. Her appearance in Starfleet uniform sets this story after her switch to that outfit in “Chain of Command, Part I”, and the stardate sets the tale in TNG’s seventh season (between the episodes “Thine Own Self” and “Masks”).
A mention of Argelius II came as a cool continuity reference, calling back to the TOS episode “Wolf in the Fold”. There’s another well-observed nod to continuity when Troi tells Picard about Halloween as if he’s never heard of it. In “The Big Goodbye”, he acts as if he hasn’t! This issue shows that he clearly knows about the celebration, however, mentioning that some adults celebrate it on Earth. Worldbuilding bonus points for Worf citing the Klingon equivalent, Mkr’an Day.
It’s initially a little confusing when the two astrometrics officers go missing. However, a subsequent montage does a great job of demonstrating that other crew members are going missing too. I’d thought little of the brief mention of Argelius II but when Redjac, from “Wolf in the Fold”, declares himself to be the culprit, my enthusiasm for this gruesome tale skyrocketed. It escalated even more, slightly, when Barclay also turned up. As with their appearances together in the TNG TV series, his work with Troi here clearly adds towards them later collaborating in Star Trek: Voyager.
It’s peculiar that Data assaults Bloch, knowing he’s possessed by Redjac. Not only can the attack be viewed as putting Bloch at unnecessary risk, but it’s also unusual for Data, as he typically relies on reason and self-restraint.
Since this is a TNG story featuring a threat from TOS, I knew the plot would have to take a different route than the TOS episode, so as to avoid complaints that they’re too much alike (as happened with TNG episode “The Naked Now” sequeling TOS installment “The Naked Time”). Sure enough, the tale does differentiate from the source material, using such TNG tropes as Borg assimilation. What I didn’t expect was the Redjac-possessed Bloch (presumably named for “Wolf in the Fold” writer Robert Bloch) taking truly horrific actions towards the end of the story, beginning with literally decapitating Data.
Whereas “Wolf in the Fold” has Captain Kirk — fearing that Redjac may take possession of an Enterprise crew member — beam the entity into outer space, here Redjac makes its way from space onto another Enterprise and does possess a member of the ship’s crew. So, the way the entity is featured here makes sense.
The art in this issue is generally mediocre, less reliable than the writing. Views of Redjac as a physical, red-coloured energy being seem strange, as he is never portrayed that way in “Wolf in the Fold”. Also, Barclay looks almost nothing like the actor who played him, Dwight Schultz.
However, I do like the use of colour throughout this issue and how captions are displayed, using the TNG titles font. Also executed well is Redjac’s dialogue — white capitals on red speech bubbles, whose level of transparency changes depending on whether Redjac is noncorporeal or possessing Bloch.
Cover A is a lot more appropriate than Cover B of this issue. I like that Cover A features both Troi and Picard instead of Troi alone. Another plus is that the Borg-ified Bloch is shown on Cover A instead of a Medusa-like woman who actually never appears in the story.
The narrative bears more than a passing resemblance to the much funnier Lower Decks comic, which features a Dracula hologram that gains sentience. Then again, the TNG regulars in this issue are impressively well written, speaking remarkably like they would in The Next Generation TV series. While not the howl I expected it would be, this issue is at least freakishly fun. Finding out what will happen as the story unfolds fills me not with dread but with anticipation.
Webmaster of WarpFactorTrek, Dan is an avid Star Trek fan who lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. Dan has loved Star Trek ever since discovering it in his childhood. He worked as an administrator, for six years, on the encyclopedic Star Trek website Memory Alpha, which involved studying the making of the various series and films. He has been mentioned in the official Star Trek Magazine, has qualified from a Star Trek course taught at Glasgow Clyde College, and coordinated the SubSpace Chatter (formerly The Scotch Trekker) YouTube channel, which regularly featured live interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek.