Warp Factor Trek

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This fifth issue of Picard’s Academy (whose French subtitle, “Dans la Gueule du Loup”, appropriately translates as “In the Mouth of the Wolf”) wraps up a Romulan-centric cliffhanger and makes way for the conclusion to the mini-series. Is this issue worth studying? Does it provide academic excellence?

Log Entry

Faced with an armada of Romulan ships during the Evasive Maneuvers exam, Picard and his crew of cadets react in alarm, confused as to why they’ve lost contact with Starfleet. Doq speculates that it might be because their ship’s AI, in a desperate effort to survive, may have gone rogue. The cadets passionately debate about their situation and how to escape from it.

Picard and Resh arguing

Picard, as their captain, slams his hand down to make them listen to him. He proposes that they stick to their original agreed-upon maneuver. However, Resh — on behalf of the rest of the group — instead advocates hiding on the dark side of a nearby moon in order to evade the Romulan armada until they can work out another plan. Though Picard starts to object to this proposal, the rest of the team supports it. So, Picard finally acquiesces.

Just then, the cadets’ vessel is suddenly hit by the Romulans’ weapon fire. Picard shoves Resh out of the way, just before a fire breaks out. Doq extinguishes it. Resh gets to his feet and imposingly towers over Picard, then helps him to his feet. Marta Batanides is grateful that no-one has died and wonders how the holographic Romulans are faring in the holodeck. Meanwhile, the Romulan holograms are exploring the aisles of a grocery store, extremely disgruntled, even though Marta reckons they’re probably okay.

The holographic Romulans explore a grocery store

Faced with what to do next, Picard remembers (in a flashback sequence) his family life in France, realising that — to have a successful future and accept his youth for what it’s been — he simply needs to do right by his crew. Resh encourages the other cadets to follow Picard, concluding that his own plan to hide on the dark side of the moon failed. However, Picard reassures him that the plan had merit and says they should combine it with the maneuver he argued for. Concurring that this seems to be their best shot, the group agree to it. With Picard in the command chair while now supervising a united team, they prepare to put the plan into action.

Status Report

The start of this comic — with Nir completing the word “shit” from the previous issue’s cliffhanger ending and then misunderstanding Picard saying, “You can say that again” — is remarkably funny. The next few frames of this issue are more puzzling than humourous, as the cadets try to ascertain why they’ve lost contact with Starfleet. Meanwhile, their arguing makes sense for such a juvenile bunch of misfits and tracks well with how they’re depicted in the previous issues of this comic.

Arguing between the cadets ends with Picard giving up command to his classmates, accompanied by a remark about wolves

An interesting quirk is that the wolf analogy which has been an ongoing facet of the French subtitle in each issue of Picard’s Academy becomes part of the plot in this issue, in the form of a single reference. The way that the cadets firstly ignore Picard’s advice but face trouble with their own ideas and are then saved by him — fostering team collaboration — is a quintessential Star Trek plot point, fitting this particular story. Humour makes a welcome return in the form of the Romulan holograms, so frustrated by being trapped on the holodeck that they prefer wishing for death to claim them.

It’s remarkable when Doq suggests, “It is possible to make no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.” This statement is said by Picard to Data in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Peak Performance”. Used here, the proclamation is not only extremely insightful as to where Picard sourced such a thought-provoking declaration, implying how much of an impact his friend Doq made on him, but also fits nicely with Doq’s characterisation. It also raises the value of this particular story, as it gives us a brilliant opportunity to find out exactly where, when and how Picard garnered one of his most famous statements.

Doq remarking about life

By the end of this issue, the cadet characters are so well established that they’re recognisable even from just a close-up of their hands. However, the end, with Picard saying, “Eng–” to the rest of the team, would probably be more effective if he hadn’t already given them his famous “Engage” command in Issue #3.

Neither the A nor B cover of this issue, by Sweeney Boo and Derek Charm respectively, are relevant to the story, though Cover A did prove exciting to see after reading the Romulans-versus-cadets encounter in the previous issue. This issue’s beautiful retailer incentive cover, by Cara McGee, fits the story most, albeit in a more allegorical way and lacking the excitement conveyed in Cover A.

Cover B… and the Retail Incentive Cover for this issue
Rating: 4/5

Despite an overall enjoyable storyline in this issue, the dark brown captioning (its identity still is unclear but is likely the narrator’s) remains as annoying as ever, actually instructing us how we should feel. This is one of only a few drawbacks in this issue, though, which offers some great character-based insights. Here’s looking forward to the concluding part of the story…

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