Star Trek: Holo-ween, Issue 3 in Review
Is this third issue a trick or a treat? Does it conjure up a frightfully good time? Is it a wickedly awful read? Let’s delve into it…
In sickbay, Doctor Crusher and Geordi La Forge react as, on the holodeck, Redjac’s fear-motivated Enterprise-D crew members turn on an away team who only have about ten minutes before risking brain injury. Redjac jams contact between the team and sickbay, so Crusher sends a generalised distress call, which is received by a shuttlecraft near Argelius II. Crusher manages to contact Troi, who is part of the away team, and instructs her to lead the group out of the holodeck.
At Troi’s suggestion, Data hacks the holodeck. He then attacks Redjac. In confused panic, some of the fearful crew members flee, stunned by a security team outside the holodeck. The away team escapes, trapping Redjac behind a forcefield.
As Crusher notes, the away mission proved that the tech to make crewmates immune to fear by causing them to believe they’re monsters actually works. However, seven crew members are still trapped on the holodeck.
Distracted by some strange transporter activity, La Forge races to investigate. He sees that Scotty has beamed himself aboard, eager to help defeat Redjac.
In a briefing, Troi agrees to re-enter the holodeck, despite now lacking the element of surprise. Scotty angrily recalls encountering Redjac previously and plans to help from outside the holodeck.
Troi and the three other away team members confront and battle Redjac while Data recovers the seven remaining trapped crew members. Eventually, Redjac seems defeated, so Picard and Riker focus on ridding the possessed Crewman Bloch of the Redjac entity.
As Counselor Troi — in her log — recalls sensing a horrific memory, Scotty realises the holodeck is somehow being remotely controlled, from the planet Vagra II. The “crew members” Data found were actually holograms. Elsewhere on the holodeck, confronting the away team, appears a being who, like Redjac, also consumes fear — Armus.
This issue begins with a “spooky” error, as the recap page calls Redjac “an old foe […] of the Enterprise-D crew” instead of Kirk’s TOS Enterprise. Unfortunately, issue 3 continues to haunt us with excessive bold lettering in the dialogue, poor character likenesses, and lengthy exposition, much like the previous installment. Nevertheless, this is a definite improvement over that one.
This third issue initially subverted my expectations by not having Deanna Troi narrate its beginning, as she does in the previous two issues. The change feels refreshing, and the choice of Doctor Crusher ensures the narration is still relevant to the plot. She even uses an apt and interesting medical analogy, saying, “Redjac was a virus inhabiting a bacteria, if the bacteria was the emotion of fear.”
Maybe it was Crusher sending a similar distress call to one which Scotty and his crewmates see from the Federation President in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Perhaps it was recognising his shuttle from TNG’s “Relics” and its close proximity to Argelius II. Either way, I realised Scotty would be involved in this issue as soon as his shuttle appeared.
The story shifts back to Troi’s log as she, Data and their three companions attempt to flee the holodeck. It’s fun to see Troi trying to stay in-character for her shipmates who believe they’re monsters.
Because Worf’s dialogue as an aquatic creature felt cheesy in the second issue, I was pleased that he mostly speaks Klingon here. Riker’s werewolf dialogue, which I liked in issue 2, remains excellent.
Data impresses with his computer skills, and there’s a callback to “security-medical” from the first issue. There’s also an interesting plot point about Redjac being vulnerable because he’s suppressing the Borg nanoprobes in Crewman Bloch’s body so they don’t assimilate him.
The fight scenes are thrilling, particularly when there’s a change of perspective to the trapped crew facing the disguised senior officers who believe themselves to be monsters. The excitement level increases even more when Scotty beams aboard. Despite having predicted his return, it’s great to see him again, though his initial dialogue is a bit overly archaic.
Since this is a TNG comics story celebrating Halloween, it’s particularly appropriate when, on the holodeck, Redjac makes it look like spirits of the dead are rising from a cemetery. It’s a nice callback that he chants his own name, like he does in “Wolf in the Fold”, and the way that the trapped crew members are shown shackled to stone walls had me thinking of “Catspaw”, another story designed to celebrate Halloween.
I’d been hoping Picard’s crew wouldn’t overlook Redjac’s possession of Crewman Bloch. This issue satisfyingly addresses that concern.
As Redjac finally appears defeated, it’s astonishing when his prisoners turn out to have been holograms, and the Armus plot twist is darkly exciting and unexpected. It provides a fitting cliffhanger to lead us into the fourth issue.
I much prefer this issue’s cover A. Cover B, on the other hand, is almost totally irrelevant to the plot, showing us a view of Picard as if he’s the Phantom of the Opera, holding Beverly Crusher while she’s dressed in a blue ballgown. The Phantom of the Opera neither appears nor is referenced in the story. In fact, the only part of cover B which has any relevance to this issue is a section of hologrid.
I admit that, like a skeptical ghost, I had doubts this comics mini-series could find its way back on the broomstick. Spook-tactularly, this issue rises to the occasion. Tasked with the challenge of picking up from issue 2, it boldly fulfills that requirement. The chilling story leads up to an exhilarating cliffhanger before what’s sure to be a spine-tingling conclusion in the fourth issue.
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.