Friday 13 July 2007

The Space Between review

This week saw the final issue of IDW’s premier Star Trek comic miniseries Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Space Between. So here’s what I thought of the series.

Issue 1 "History Lesson" – The series kicked off with an interesting season 1 story on the planet Tigan where history gets rewritten. It’s rather familiar to any Stargate fans with the same concept being used in the SG1 episode "Revisions". But this version is a little larger in scope with a whole planet’s history being rewritten and coups happening with no one even knowing. The story was for the most part well written, having a couple of little plot holes that make you join the dots, but mostly enjoyable. And a very attractive start to the series, with lovely colourful bold designs and great use of “sound effects” in a fight scene.

Issue 2 "Captain’s Pleasure" – My favourite issue of the series, a classic “Picard has an adventure” story as the captain takes a bit of time off after the events of the episode "Unification" and enjoys a spot of archaeology. Unfortunately Picard’s holiday curse follows him on every day-off and it turns into serial killing who done it. A completely different tone but just as beautiful art really help the excellent story which like the first issue suffers from being a bit rushed and requiring the reader to join the dots. And that’s where the main flaw of this issue comes in; three pages of the limited twenty-two are devoted to an odd little holodeck B-plot. It’s a nice idea, and if this was a 45 minute TV episode as it seeks to emulate, it would work. But it isn’t and those three pages could have helped a lot in making the already excellent A-plot really fantastic.

Picard's holiday chums really got on

Issue 3 "Strategy" – A mysterious hybrid ship attacks the Enterprise, meanwhile Worf with his Deanna-sense knows he needs to rescue his girlfriend before going to the bridge. The series’ plot holes continue to plague this issue, but it does work. The main story has an interesting adversary and a satisfying conclusion and the B-plot of the Worf-Troi-Riker love triangle is a very well done character piece. Whilst this issue does continue to suffer from leaps of logic in the story, it is one of the most successful because it’s pretty simple and manages to fit everything it has to into the tale. It also drops the first hints of the miniseries being tied together with the mysterious unidentified attacker leaving Picard wary of who might be after the Enterprise.

Issue 4 "Light of Day" – A shuttle crashes on a planet full of zombie monks. Meanwhile on the Enterprise a world destroying scientist come religion fanatic gets to know Data. The main zombie story once more suffers from the series’ characteristic plot holes, but it’s fun and the characters pull it though. The Data B-plot is the real highlight of the issue through, it’s a pretty flawless element of the story which makes this one of the better issues in the series.

Issue 5 "Space Seeds" – The Wesley story, run for the hills! Or in the case the asteroid belt, this is a nice little agricultural mystery with an interesting conclusion, but yep, you guessed it, that conclusion is reached through another series of jumps in logic. And then it gets really interesting, an epilogue! Jumping six years ahead Picard jumps out of bed having apparently figured out what links the miniseries together in his sleep. He has Data do a little data retrieval and finds some dastardly people have been using the Enterprise’s mission logs to conduct evil! That wont do, Picard is out for justice!

Issue 6 "Space Seeds"… part 2? – Jumping straight into the action Riker and Worf beam in to stop some probably baddies doing something on what sort of looks like the Enterprise. Meanwhile Picard has a chat with Admiral Nechayev to tell her of his recent discoveries, but unknown to him she’s in on the conspiracy! Back on the weird fake Enterprise the rest of the main characters are up to something and while Picard has a chat with Boothby he gets shot at by a random Tellarite. Meanwhile on the Enterprise Crusher lies to some random Admiral to cover why the Enterprise is back at Earth. The gang decide to blow up the fake-aprise and then everyone gets to meet the mysterious bad guy. He tells them the Ferengi made him do it (apparently a reference to "Little Green Men" except he refers to events 200 years ago rather than the 400 it would need to be for that to be the case), tells the gang they didn’t manage to blow up his fake enterprise and then beams way maaawww ha ha ha. Picard is sooo angry at that, but he’ll win in the end …or not, the final two pages see the crew enjoying a buffet and a toast back on the Enterprise. The End.

The mysterious bad guy, Section 31? Who knows?

The art throughout the series was generally excellent, the main characters are definitely the weak points, and under the most scrutiny, but the scenery is consistently fabulous and more than makes up for that weakness. The writing though is another story, David Tischman writes the characters perfectly, the stories are all quite interesting, with good concepts and interesting twists and turns. But, every issue in the series suffers plots holes and jumps in logic which make it a pain to read and really drag the whole series down. The series also suffers a from little errors in the text, like he above mentioned Ferengi dating mistake.

Still, each issue works as a stand alone story, and where this series really fails is the conclusion, at the end of the third and fifth issues and throughout the sixth Picard is out to stop these mysterious baddies (kind of maybe Section 31?), but he doesn’t get to, the baddies escape, and what’s worse Picard seems entirely content with that! The ending feels so open I feel… I hope… IDW has something else up their sleeves to finish the story properly.

Each issue of this series, despite the plot holes, is enjoyable, but together it lets you down and I feel IDW would have been better off leaving them just as random one-off stories. IDW’s other series Klingons: Blood Will Tell has managed to both tell individual stories that work fantastically and tie the whole series together, so it definitely could be done, but it didn’t work in this case. David Tischman is writing IDW’s third series Star Trek: Year Four which starts in a fortnight, there’s no indication yet whether that will have some attempt to tie the standalone stories together, I’m hoping not because that’s where he really failed this time. I approach the first issue of that series sure the story will be interesting and the characters well written, I just hope he manages to avoid the constant pattern of plot holes second time round.


Jonathan Polk said...

Nice reviews. I more or less agree with you, but my criticisms are harsher and more pointed. I am a lot less forgiving of plot holes thatn you are. I'm uncertain I will give Year Four a shot b/c I was so dissatisfied with this series.

Slight correction: Casey Maloney was the artist on the series, but David Tischman was the writer, and will be again on YF.

8of5 said...

The plot holes are definatly annoying but I'm willing to not let them ruin what were otherwise pretty interesting stories.

And thanks for catching that, corrected now.

I am abit concerned about Year Four because Tischman is writing it, but maybe a fresh project will help fix those holes.

vladar86 said...

good review, I read first five issues and waiting for scan of the last to appear for download. I just wish they set story after nemesis and expand star trek universe little more, but stores have good TNG feeling.

PS. nice blog
I hope there is no hard feelings about our arguments today. :)

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