Star Trek: Picard’s Academy, Issue 1 in Review
Despite its potentially confusing title, this is the debut issue of a comic about Jean-Luc Picard’s days at Starfleet Academy, not a direct spin-off of Star Trek: Picard. This first issue is entitled “Commit No Mistakes, Part 1: Loup Solitaire”. How effective is it?
During a history lesson about the Earth-Romulan War, Picard interrupts Professor Galen to note that there’s one ship missing from a Battle of Cheron display. Betazoid classmate Reshan Dar corrects him that the display includes a cloaked Bird-of-Prey. After class, fellow cadets sympathise with Jean-Luc. Marta Batanides coyly invites him to a party but he prioritises an upcoming exam.
That night, distracted from studying by loud party noises, Jean-Luc visits campus groundskeeper Boothby. He offers tea and encourages socialising.
Leaving Boothby, Jean-Luc is accosted by Resh, who takes him to the holodeck — for an exam readiness test — and shows him a holographic Earth-Romulan War display. This time, Picard asserts that there’s too many ships. Resh disagrees. When one of the Starfleet ships explodes, Picard accuses Resh of cheating, leading to a fight. Spock intervenes, questioning their actions.
This issue’s first page sets the story during Picard’s second year at the Academy, in 2325, when Picard is twenty. All but Picard’s age is established later in the comic but it’s great to have these statistics comprehensively presented at the start, which also mentions Spock (for tactical analysis) and Arex (for stellar cartography) among his tutors.
Even though this comic features some legacy characters — such as Galen, Marta Batanides, and Boothby — none of them have previously appeared at this point in the timeline. (It’s two years before Picard and Marta appear in their post-Academy flashbacks in “Tapestry”, for instance.) So, there’s no problem with them looking different from their pre-established selves.
An exciting Battle of Cheron display, followed by the (re)introduction of Picard and — from TNG’s “The Chase” — Professor Galen, is an excellent continuity-rich way to start. Yet, it’s unclear why Galen, a professor of archeology, is teaching a class on warfare. He speaks from a biased viewpoint when he says, “Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites took to the stars with us,” as the “us” really means Humans, not very appropriate for a multi-species classroom. However, I do love the inclusion of two colourful-skinned aliens in this scene.
The use of captions to introduce characters is established in the first classroom scene, describing Galen as “sometimes wrong.” This, combined with him replying humbly when Picard posits that he’s made an error, makes it look like Picard might be right… but Resh’s correction about the cloaked Bird-of-Prey cleverly subverts expectations, since Resh is actually correct. It skillfully demonstrates that Picard won’t always be right in this, his own Academy comic series — that he still has some maturing to do, which is fantastically intriguing and fits well with canon.
On the whole, Picard’s classmates are a mixed bunch, which is also a strength of this comic. I would have liked to have seen more from the classmates with particularly colourful skin — an Orion, Nirula, and a Bolian, K’Ccyt.
We get the thrill of continuity again when Marta Batanides arrives. She’s described in a caption that says, “Very pretty eyes. Wait, who said that?” This comes across as sleazy. The comic establishes that Picard isn’t the person writing these captions and the dialogue is enough to establish the relationship dynamic between him and Marta. The comic thereafter establishes another method of captioning for Picard’s thoughts, so why it’s not used for the compliment about Marta’s eyes baffles me.
Speaking of the thought-bubbles format, I like the manner in which Picard decides to visit Boothby. As if he’s in a role-playing game, he mentally considers multiple other options beforehand. It’s also great to see Boothby.
When Resh takes Picard to the holodeck, a caption declares it’s “The Holodeck.” This seems redundant for Trekkies but potentially helpful for readers who are relatively new to Star Trek. However, this comic relies on familiarity to the character of Jean-Luc Picard, particularly because he doesn’t exactly endear himself to the reader in this story, coldly obsessed with studying and doing everything he can to act immature in his relationships, even attacking Resh and calling him an “asshole.” The captions want us to hate Resh but very little in his actions show us that he’s as bad as Picard and the captions writer want us to think he is.
As a first issue, this is a good introduction to Picard’s Academy days, reminding us of what we already know about these times and introducing some new characters as his classmates. The issue’s cliffhanger ending seems to go beyond this, Picard in trouble with Professor Spock — a character we’re obviously familiar with but used in an entirely different way than we’re used to.
Both cover A and B of this issue — by Sweeney Boo and Matt Aytch Taylor respectively — are appropriate and appealing, showing Picard at the Academy with his classmates. Retailer incentive covers, apart from a black-and-white version of cover A, are less successful, oddly looking as though the Enterprise-D plays a part in the story (it doesn’t) or that Jean-Luc and his classmates live in a world of rainbows and stardust. In another of the retailer incentive covers, Resh and Marta look bizarrely godlike rather than on the same earthly level as Picard.
I like the colourful style of art in this comic. While not particularly realistic-looking, it is quirky. Picard is interestingly shown, as in the post-Academy timeframe of TNG’s “Tapestry”, with a full head of hair. Perhaps this comic series will explain why he’s shown bald in an Academy photo which appears in Star Trek Nemesis. Hopefully we’ll get to know more about his classmates Nirula and K’Ccyt too. As long as the caricature nature of the art doesn’t phase you, this is an 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.