Star Trek: Picard’s Academy, Issue 4 in Review
It’s time to boldly go with Cadet Picard and his classmates as he ventures into space for the very first time. Does this issue engage the reader with warp-speed wit, or does it crash-land on a planet full of errors?
The day has come for Jean-Luc Picard and his friends to undertake the Evasive Maneuvers exam. Professors Galen and Spock explain that, in the test, they will encounter real Romulan ships, run by AI and holo-generated Romulans that can board other vessels despite being holograms. The cadets will meanwhile be aboard another real starship — the USS Artemis.
Doq is excited to beam up to the ship, imagining a frightful transporter accident that might merge him and his classmates. Aboard the vessel, Nir is thrilled to begin the exam and Picard agrees, adamant that he won’t mess up the test. The young crew, as they take their places on the Artemis’ bridge, see that Professors Galen and Spock are monitoring their progress. Picard is unsure of taking the command chair but then finds his resolve to do so, albeit declaring a less-than-perfectly-phrased order to encourage his peers to get going.
Nir and Resh doubt Picard’s suggested tactic of employing Maneuver D, but Jean-Luc remains confident that it will work. Once he explains what Maneuver D consists of, his friends support him, with even Resh agreeing to the plan.
As soon as Picard has uttered his order to “engage,” all hell breaks loose, the ship’s computer announcing an emergency shutdown. With the Romulans on their way, the cadets struggle to regain control of the Artemis and have lost contact with Starfleet.
At Picard’s order, the cadets rush to engineering. They are stopped in a corridor by a trio of holographic Romulans whose arrival Picard is entirely unprepared for. Nir volunteers for himself and K’Ccyt, as the tactical officers, to deal with the Romulan intruders. After taking a moment to consider whether he will trust his crew, Picard nods. In response, the pair of tactical officers promptly fling the three Romulan holograms into the holodeck.
With Doq having restored the ship’s basic functions, the Artemis’ viewscreen is now working again. It shows the cadets that the Artemis is surrounded by Romulan ships.
The title of this issue — “Les Loups Ne Se Mangent Pas Entre Eux”, which translates from French as “Wolves Don’t Eat Each Other” — is fitting, since this issue depends on the cadets (i.e., the symbolic “wolves”) working in harmony with each other.
With the third issue having wasted time by depicting a practice session for the Evasive Maneuvers exam rather than dealing with the exam itself, it’s a relief that issue #4 finally shows us the actual exam. Another plus is seeing both Galen and Spock return.
Although the use of real spacecraft by Starfleet Academy cadets is widely established in Star Trek, the caricature-like appearance of these particular cadets makes their use of real starships seem ridiculously dangerous. What helps ground this situation is the professors explaining the process of exactly how the Romulans and their vessels will appear. The crew of cadets is highlighted in an excellent panel that showcases them with a brilliantly positive comment about their collective look.
After Doq verbally imagines a transporter accident involving them all, Marty sarcastically thanks him for this suggestion in a very humorous moment. However, the anonymous captions (from the previous issues in this mini-series) continue to annoy, spoiling Picard’s big moment as he takes the command chair of the USS Artemis. When Picard uses the same call-to-action as Captain Jonathan Archer in Star Trek: Enterprise’s premiere episode “Broken Bow” (i.e., “Let’s go”), the captions rudely comment, “Yeah. That’s gonna need some work.” Such derisive remarks are not necessary nor welcome. Much more acceptable would be if the comic had omitted these captions, letting the reader use their own discernment as to how successful Picard assuming command is.
Furthermore, the groundwork for this issue could have been laid better if it had been made clearer that Resh objected to Picard’s suggested tactic, Maneuver D, simply because he didn’t understand it. When this fact is made clear in issue #4, it’s a reassuring twist that fortunately helps unite the cadets even more.
Handled less well is the predictable twist that, under the control of the cadets, the Artemis encounters trouble. The “Romulans”, when they first show up, look more like elves or Ferengi and the ongoing commentary becomes even more off-putting.
On the other hand, the fun concept of a Romulan invasion aboard a starship operated by a limited crew has interesting resonances with the Voyager episode “Message in a Bottle”. The comic makes out that the Romulans are using their own language but that it’s being translated into English for the purposes of the comic, which is a tried-but-true approach to writing alien dialogue. The way the Romulans are disposed of is hilarious and reminiscent of the Borg in Star Trek: First Contact. The issue ends with a very effective cliffhanger that’s full of suspense.
As always, the variety of alternative covers is admirable. Although Cover B shows a scene that never happens in this issue, the Retailer Incentive Cover by Liana Kangas is particularly life-like, giving us a glimpse of how much better this mini-series would have worked if the art style had been more realistic.
Despite a clash of styles and commentary which is both irritating and needless throughout, this issue has an adventurous vibe that fantastically makes the story feel like it’s no longer stuck in limbo. It’s a definite improvement over the third issue and inspires anticipation to see what’s next.
Editor 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 coordinates the SubSpace Chatter (formerly The Scotch Trekker) YouTube channel, which regularly features live interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek.