“Star Trek, Issue #1” 2022 Comic in Review
This is the first issue of a new comic series that serves as a postscript to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Since I am a fan of the show, I nervously anticipated how the story would continue in the comic, even if the publication likely means that a live-action sequel to the TV series will not be made.
In the comic, Captain Sisko finally returns to his son at station Deep Space 9. While there, he telepathically receives a call from the Prophets in the Celestial Temple. They demand that he travel to a nebula for unknown reasons. Enlisting the help of Captain Picard to vouch for him, Sisko takes command of a starship. With Data as his Number One and Scotty as Engineer, the crew journey to the coordinates where a major explosive event occurs, the explanation for which awaits us in the next issue.
Deep Space Nine‘s seven-season run ended with Captain Sisko deathlessly disappearing into a non-corporeal realm known as “the Celestial Temple”, promising his then-pregnant wife, Kasidy Yates, that he would return. The original version of this script had Captain Sisko saying the exact opposite. Avery Brooks, the actor who portrayed the captain, called showrunner Ira Steven Behr with justifiable concerns about that ending. Having a Black man leave his pregnant Black wife to raise their child alone carried certain negative connotations that Brooks wasn’t comfortable with. Throughout the series, his example of consistency and presence as a Black father was important to counter the myth of absenteeism, especially since the Black fatherhood theme at the core of Deep Space Nine was a rare example on television in the 1990s.
Taking all of this into account, it was extremely surprising to see that, when Sisko returns from the Celestial Temple in this “Issue #1”, he decides not to reunite with his wife and finally meet his daughter Rebecca. Of course, Captain Sisko would be forever changed by his time with the wormhole Prophets, but this runs contrary to what both Sisko and the actor who played him had, for good reason, expressly promised. Why does Captain Sisko have an emotional reunion with his son Jake as soon as he reappears on DS9, but Kasidy and Sarah must wait?
Nerys thanking the Prophets for returning Sisko was my favorite set of panels, even if it seems to be the end of her involvement in the story. It is well established that the Prophets are nebulous about their intentions but certainly, after so many years in the wormhole, Sisko would know something about this mysterious “mission” beyond, “Go to a nebula.” This “mystery” ultimately undermines the establishment of stakes that are worth investing in. Sisko doesn’t wrestle with how this undertaking will again take him away from his family, making the mission’s urgency far-fetched.
The creators of this comic are the same as Star Trek: Year Five: written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly (Batman Beyond, Captain America) and illustrated by Ramon Rosanas (Star Wars). While I understand wanting tonal consistency between series, I doubt that there were Black writers with similar concerns unavailable to direct where the story should go next. Avery’s input was also crucial to the shaping of the character, and his absence is felt. The art of the comic tells the story sufficiently and gives a lovely sense of scale. However, I do not think Sisko’s rendering put the character’s full range of emotion on display, even if his dialogue does sound consistent with his character.
Sisko is resolute in leaving the space station to embark on a mission so important he cannot even describe it. Unfortunately, the tension between him and Picard, owing to Locutus of Borg having killed Jennifer Sisko during the Battle of Wolf 359, seems conspicuously absent here. Sisko even implicitly mentions the murder of his wife Jennifer as the reason Picard would be perfect to “vouch” for Sisko needing to take captaincy of a starship for a mission. “The hivemind you were plugged into used you to kill my wife, so I trust you to attest that I am of sound mind” is difficult logic for me to follow. Even moreso when Dr. Crusher’s test results are ultimately the only thing standing between Sisko and a captain’s chair.
While not central to the plot, seeing Scotty as Engineer and Data as First Officer was fine – both are charming enough to justify their presence. Tom Paris, at the helm, is a sensible choice for a high-risk mission because of his experiences on Voyager. However, one does wonder what exactly he did to have B’Elanna relieved to have him away from home.
Sisko taking command of the USS Theseus is a highlight, particularly as he is Trek’s “war captain,” and because his command of the Defiant made him a hero of the Dominion War (even if he poisoned a Maquis colony). His first swings at conflict resolution with his new crew are thrilling to see too. Ultimately, the cliffhanger does not bring me any closer to convincing me that this mission’s importance takes precedence over family.
Even if I disagree with the direction of the story, I appreciate that the young crew of the Theseus are willing to challenge Captain Sisko. It’s fair fuel for a subplot in upcoming issues. Because Star Trek typically shows its audience a crew already convinced of a captain’s abilities, seeing a captain having to fight to earn trust is a fresh approach, particularly under these supernatural circumstances. I also look forward to hearing more of what Sisko experienced in the Celestial Temple and what about it has changed him, aside from needing to make a rendezvous. The comic rapidly reintroduced a slew of characters but offered surprisingly little insight into its main character. He could have been swapped out with other captains without any substantial changes to the story.