Star Trek: Holo-ween, Issue 2 in Review
This second issue follows up on issue 1’s climax that saw a partly Borg version of Redjac, from the TOS episode “Wolf in the Fold”, wreaking havoc on the crew of the USS Enterprise-D and apparently escaping the holodeck along with Data, looking remarkably similar to the creature from Frankenstein. Does this issue continue the freakish fun?
A security team, led by Riker and Worf, tries to battle the steadily encroaching Redjac and monstrous Data, without much luck. Eventually, a forcefield is used to stop them… for now.
Picard calls a briefing, at which the senior officers view a recording of when Scotty encountered the Redjac entity. Kirk’s Enterprise utilised an airborne sedative to defeat the fear-hungry being, but Redjac has prevented this by hacking the replicators aboard Picard’s Enterprise. He also tricked the ship’s crew members into believing the holodeck was expanding when he’s actually still confined to the holodeck.
To rescue the crew members who are still trapped there, Beverly Crusher hatches an unusual and dangerous plan. Since Redjac requires his victims to feel fear in order to possess them and — according to Counselor Troi — monsters don’t fear other monsters, the plan involves Riker, Worf, Troi and Picard posing as various monstrous characters whom, thanks to some mental manipulation, they believe they actually are.
The four-person team enters the holodeck in these disguises, intending to rescue the trapped crewpeople and managing to save some of them. They include Data, who is restored to his usual self except for his appearance. They then head towards the holodeck exit, about to leave when Redjac’s remaining captives surround them imposingly, carrying pitchforks and fire torches.
It came as a pleasant surprise that Deanna Trio would narrate this issue, having done so in the previous one. While it may have made the story a bit more interesting if a different character had narrated each of the issues in this mini-series instead, the selection of Deanna as narrator makes the story feel more like a TNG episode, since each TV installment often highlights one main character.
Having the Enterprise-D’s holodeck present a replica of the corridor outside it is slightly too obvious of a plot twist and comes straight out of the Moriarty playbook, even though an impressed Picard describes it as “clever.” It’s also obvious that there would, at some point, be a callback to the events of “Wolf in the Fold”, told in flashback. It’s good that it’s short and that the comic quickly dispenses with the solution that enabled the Enterprise to overcome Redjac that previous time.
The plot hinges on the assumption that the individuals whom Redjac manages to control are necessarily fearful. They include Data. Asking the readership to believe that he was fearful when Redjac took control of him, especially when we see in issue 1 that this is not the case, is too much of a stretch and totally bizarre.
A form of technology repeatedly referred to here are so-called “augments,” an interesting use of the word, since Augments were the genetically engineered followers of Khan. Since the crew is attempting to prevent fear spreading, perhaps such a word shouldn’t be casually bandied about.
Picard’s determination to rescue Redjac’s hostages is very true to character. His admirable sense of responsibility, leadership and commitment to the well-being of his crew are of course well renowned.
I liked the premise of having the away team pose as monsters as well as the ticking clock trope, whereby they risk brain damage by doing so. It was surprising that the four-person team consists entirely of senior staff. This sort of mission would be ideal for including lower-ranked security officers. The fact that it does consist only of main characters means there’s obviously no possibility of actual brain damage, so the stakes are unfortunately low. The uncertainty over whether they’ll manage to save the lower deckers stuck in the holodeck is where the jeopardy truly lies.
Showing us first a scene from the holodeck and then the silhouettes of the away team over that scene is highly effective. I also like that the four newcomers are in a variety of disguises. This is basically “TNG does a monster team-up like Van Helsing or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” I imagine these roles would probably delight the cast if it was an actual live-action production. Worf’s dialogue as an aquatic creature comes off as corny, though. And who exactly is Terapsut, the Mummy who Troi poses as?
I appreciate the colours in this issue but the character likenesses are poor. In a comical error, one panel shows Redjac with his Borg-ified left arm looking tiny while he says, “Something is amiss.” That much is clear to see!
The team deciding to leave the holodeck without saving the crew members they came to rescue comes across terribly. It shows our TNG main characters as uncaring about the less senior members of the crew.
Many of the words of dialogue in this comic are emboldened, showing the terms which are emphasised. As I always read aloud (a habit I picked up from working on Memory Alpha for many years, where the practice is advised), this was harder to read than it would have otherwise been… but I relished the challenge. I ultimately found the prevalence of the emboldened words a problem that the comic’s writers could simply have eliminated.
Both covers for this issue are absolutely brilliant. However, the comic begins with an erroneous recap that mistakes the term “confined” for “confided” and refers to the trapped crew members as “passengers” when they really also include officers.
This second issue is extremely convoluted, whereas the plot should have been fairly straightforward. It does become a bit more fun once the story moves to the holodeck, but all the scenes outside it are weighed down with heavy expository dialogue. Unfortunately, this makes it a less than enjoyable read.
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.