Warp Factor Trek

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Here’s a review of the story “Commit No Mistakes, Part 2”, which has the French subtitle “Hurler Avec Les Loupe” (bizarrely translated as “Howling With Magnifying Glasses”; presumably what was meant was “Hurler Avec Les Loup”, which — loosely translated — means “Follow the Pack”). Written by Sam Maggs and with interior art by Ornella Greco, it constitutes the second issue of the IDW comics mini-series Star Trek: Picard’s Academy. Does the story in this installment commit any mistakes?

Log Entry

Having been caught fighting on the holodeck by Professor Spock, Cadets Jean-Luc Picard and Reshan Dar are let off with a mere warning. Just as Picard is about to dash away, Spock halts him, eager to ascertain why he’s not at a party which is meanwhile being held. Jean-Luc admits he was studying for the evasive maneuvers exam but Spock, referring to Resh as a “bully,” is adamant there must be another reason why Picard is reluctant to socialise. Spock suggests the cadet show him the reason.

Picard and Spock in a holographic representation of France

The pair use the holodeck to portray Jean-Luc’s upbringing in France. Cadet Picard explains that his father expected him to be the heir to the family vineyard. However, the disability and death of Jean-Luc’s grandfather motivated him to live life to the fullest and endeavour to excel at whatever he attempted to do, including his studies at Starfleet Academy. He mentions that he considers the Betazoid Resh to be in his way to reaching the top of their class.

Spock sympathises but believes that Jean-Luc — to become a good leader — needs to increase familiarity with his classmates. Consequently, Spock demands that Picard either attend the party or be removed from the evasive maneuvers exam.

Picard enters the party

An alarmed Jean-Luc complies, much to the delight of Marta Batanides, who rushes to greet him at the party. While Picard doubts that his attendance of the event will improve his career, he notices Resh picking on someone whom Jean-Luc’s classmate Doqtis Ilum identifies as a freshman. Picard stubbornly refuses to intervene. Some of his classmates — the Orion Nirula, the Bolian K’Ccyt, and the aforementioned Marta Batanides — intercede instead. As Doq tells him, Jean-Luc will be taking the evasive maneuvers exam with all four of them. Picard clearly has his work cut out for him, having to unite his classmates.

Status Report

It’s intriguing to consider a version of Spock who prioritizes social activity more than Picard does. Given Spock’s logical and reserved nature, this departure from his usual demeanor might seem implausible. However, the written dialogue does as good a job as it can with making him seem believable. The holodeck doesn’t behave rationally either — it’s unknown how, without any vocal commands, it manages to put into action precisely what Picard is thinking.

The holodeck reintroduces us to several elements from Star Trek: Picard, delving into Jean-Luc’s childhood in France, his relationship with his father, and the absence of his mother. So, maybe this comic series is becoming a bit more like the TV series which its title most directly references. Saying Jean-Luc’s mother is simply “gone” is a great way to sensitively address her suicide, portrayed in the show. The use of vocal narration by Picard and Spock during the flashbacks, with small avatars that help distinguish their voices, effectively contextualises the events. Showing us Jean-Luc’s grandfather sheds light on a character whom, up to now, we knew very little about. His portrayal here seems in line with the TNG episode “Night Terrors”, in which Picard tells Data, “When I was young, I remember watching my grandfather deteriorate from a powerful, intelligent figure to a frail wisp of a man, who could barely make his own way home.” A single panel depicting the origins of Picard fencing is another highlight of the flashbacks sequence.

Young Picard fencing

The review of the first issue mentioned Jean-Luc’s hair (or lack thereof) as a marker of time, as he appears with a head full of hair in the post-Academy setting of the episode “Tapestry” but is bald in an Academy photo from the film Star Trek Nemesis. Even more psychologically interesting is when, in this comic, he envisions himself at a more advanced stage of his Starfleet career… and the imagined older version of him has long flowing locks of hair. This departure from his usual appearance prompts reflection on the topic of self-image, providing a nuanced portrayal of Picard’s character.

A double-page spread is great at conveying the lively atmosphere of the party. However, I wish Jean-Luc had stayed out of it, since this seems more fitting for his character by the time he’s introduced in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where he often seems aloof to the point of standoffishness, prioritising duty over social engagement even more than he does here. On the other hand, this gives him potential to undergo subsequent character development, as does his resistance to the idea of boldly going to help a freshman fend off bullying.

Nirula and K’Ccyt intervening

This issue satisfies in its depiction of the characters K’Ccyt and Nirula, as they are given more to do than they were in the first issue, intervening to protect the freshman. An effective cliffhanger, albeit with seemingly low stakes, concludes this issue. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and if the stakes are heightened in later installments.

There are three separate covers for this issue. Cover A, by Sweeney Boo, is the only one that makes sense to the story. However, retail incentive cover B, by Megan Levens, is fantastic too, demonstrating the sort of Romulan-versus-Starfleet combat presented in the first issue. Cover B by Megan Huang, meanwhile, is quirky and comedic, the most off-the-wall from all the covers.

Retail incentive cover B… and cover B of this issue
Rating: 3/5

Generally, this second issue simply continues the fun story begun in the series’ debut. The most insightful scene is our glimpse of Jean-Luc’s wheelchair-bound “grandpère.” Much of the issue consists of more character-building shenanigans to prepare us for when the action later kicks in. It’s a solid issue in that regard and inspires anticipation to see how the story will unfold from here.

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