It’s been a long hiatus—the result of working on the final two issues of my own graphic novel, Code 45, running the last Kickstarter to fund it, and then preparing it for publication by Scout Comics this spring—but the DC Star Trek Comics blog is back! I’m diving in to Issue #10, “Return of the Mirror Menace,” which picks up immediately after the clumsy reveal in issue #9 that yes, the Mirror Universe is still a reliable well for Star Trek writers to draw on when they’ve got nothing else in the tank.
(I’m blogging each and every issue of the DC Comics Star Trek run that debuted in 1984. Why would anyone want to do that? I explain all here in an introduction to this project that includes very first post in this series.)
As a series runner, if you have to push forward knowing that any continuity you might establish is about to be obliterated by the eventual release of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the Mirror Universe isn’t a bad dodge. Unfortunately, rather than having the crew get sucked INTO the Dimension Of Goateed Caricatures (where their antics wouldn’t have hurt any prospective Prime Timeline future), the opposite seems to be true, with Mirror Kirk and Mirror Spock paying a visit to the unsuspecting DC Trek Timeline.
I’m going to be honest—there’s not a lot going on in this issue. The primary focus is on three things:
- Establishing the Mirror Enterprise as an unstoppable scientific and tactical force
- Establishing that Captain Stiles is the biggest prick in the history of Starfleet
- Thoroughly confusing the reader about the proportions of the U.S.S. Excelsior
The first few pages of the issue are devoted to the former, including a panel Enterprise APPEARS to swap positions in the space/time continuum with the Excelsior while performing its dimensional jump.
Don’t worry though, because that’s just a random red herring that doesn’t resolve into anything whatsoever. Instead, please enjoy the endless reinforcement of the idea that Mirror Kirk is a Bad Dude, and the Everyone Hates Him.
Shortly after the issue clears those anti-Kirk outbursts, we’re treated to a handful of panels that remind us that yes, post-resurrection Spock still exists, and no, we’re not going to see him again anytime soon. Also, apparently he looks ‘sad somehow.’
No one liked Captain Stiles in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, with actor James Sikking turning in an appropriately martinet-like performance. Unfortunately, things get a little over the top here when the Excelsior shows up at Regula One to round-up Good Kirk & co.
The series goes out of its way to turn up the volume on his priggish qualities in issue #10, with almost every interaction between the Excelsior’s captain and any member of the Enterprise crew used to reinforce the fact that he is a total douche.
That attitude of course extends to any suggestion made by Kirk that perhaps Stiles should be a little less invested in the impregnability of the Excelsior when confrontation with the Mirror Enterprise looms.
By the way, did we make sure to mention that Excelsior can pull Warp 17?
It’s part of a subplot where Mirror Spock is stealing data from a random Starbase for reasons that aren’t explained, and are most likely irrelevant, but which gives writer Mike W. Barr a chance to briefly reintroduce us to Konom, Bearclaw, and the other lower decks characters we’d forgotten about because of a movie where they clearly did not exist.
After having received a non-stop education on how Starfleet’s latest vessel is more badass than anything else in the galaxy (Warp 17!), readers must have been curious as to how Mirror Kirk was going to turn the tables and prevail with his lesser ship, which Excelsior can detect even while cloaked.
The answer? Why, appropriate yet another plot line from a recent Trek movie and use the Mirror Enterprise’s command console to take control of the Bird of Prey that Excelsior is towing within the protection of her own shields.
Because that’s all space battles are now. One ship taking over another ship’s systems across the hard reaches of the cold vacuum that separates them, regardless of the fact that each was built by an entirely different species. When deadlines are just around the corner, writers don’t like to think too hard about the logic of their deus ex machina, and by now I’ve grown accustomed to borrowed story points from much more accomplished works serving as filler for poorly-constructed DC Star Trek narratives.
Of course the Excelsior is gutted by the ruse, and Mirror Kirk storms the bridge, where he provides the requisite cliffhanger image of trash-talking Good Kirk while some random crewmember is executed in the background. But the last page isn’t where I want to end things with this issue.
Instead, I want to talk about the U.S.S. Excelsior, and how it seems to have been drawn by a different artists in nearly every single panel.
We alternately get normal Excelsior, chonky Excelsior, stretched Excelsior, and Excelsior that seems to be the size of a small moon, depending on which page the reader flips to.
It’s a bizarre situation, and since it isn’t repeated with how the Enterprise’s design is portrayed here, I can’t think of any explanation as to why Tom Sutton and Ricardo Villagran decided to abandon all sense of steady proportion.
Did they trade off drawing the ship from one panel to the next as a kind of contest to see who could make Excelsior look the most ridiculous? Did they think no one would notice?
Or were they, like Admiral Kirk, just ‘thinking about…about the stars?’
Best Retro Ad From This Issue
I don’t know how many children’s lives must have been changed by The Original ‘Diamond Glove,’ but never have I wanted an origin story more than after reading this ad.