'Perchance To Dream' ReviewBy "Captain Jim" Zimmerman
Posted at December 8, 1999 - 6:00 AM GMT
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION - PERCHANCE TO DREAM
Chapter 1: To Take Arms Against a Sea of Troubles
Written by Keith R. A. DeCandido, Pencils by Peter Pachoumis, Inks by Lucian Rizzo
Published by WildStorm Productions
Two weeks after the arrival of False Colors, WildStorm's first Trek book, we are greeted by their first Star Trek comic in a regular format: Star Trek: The Next Generation - Perchance to Dream. This is the first issue of a four-issue mini-series, shipping on a monthly basis. It's printed on high-grade newsprint and the story is 22 pages long. The price is a competitive $2.50 (USA).
The book features a painted cover by Tim Bradstreet, showing overlapping profiles of Geordi, Data, and Worf. It's very attractive and has extremely good likenesses of the characters. It's a definite improvement over the cover Jim Lee provided for False Colors.
The Next Generation is arguably the most popular of the various Star Trek series and, as such, is a good choice for the first multi-issue release. This particular storyline takes place sometime between All Good Things and Generations. The main reason, as I recall, was so it could be as current as possible, while still allowing Worf to be aboard the Enterprise and functioning as security chief. The timeframe is established very nicely in the first panel when Data says, "My name is Data. I am a lieutenant commander in Starfleet, presently assigned as second officer on the U.S. S. Enterprise, Registry Number NCC-1701-D." As in Generations, the uniforms are a mixture of TNG TV-era and Voyager/early DS9.
The artwork is quite competent, in my opinion. The characters' likenesses vary from very good to acceptable, with the women perhaps needing the most work. But everybody is always recognizable. For their first bout at illustrating these characters, I give Pachoumis and Rizzo a big "thumbs up."
The story begins with an interesting sequence, which initially surprised me when I first saw it on the web a few weeks ago. It introduces the story in a unique way (which I won't give away here).
The main plot has been given enough publicity over the last few months that many people are probably familiar with it. It has to do with a world in which there are three genders, not two, and all three are needed for reproduction. The new planetary governor-elect has come under attack because she has only one partner, not two. Consequently, an extremist group has determined to assassinate this "pervert" before she can be sworn into office. The Enterprise has been called upon to provide security and prevent any such assassination.
The parallels between this and the gay situation in our own day are fairly easy to see. Therein lies both a strength and a danger for this story. A strength, because Star Trek has a long history of addressing such social issues. A danger, because there's a thin line between addressing an issue and preaching, and because it's so easy to treat a complex social issue in a simplistic manner. So far, Perchance does a good job holding things in balance.
I felt Picard spoke for me when he told Riker, "Tempting as it is to get into a protracted discussion of the relative morals of sentient beings, this isn't the time, Number One. The important thing is that death threats have been made against Governor-elect Ra'ch." In my mind, Picard was entirely right. It's fine to have such social issues form the backdrop for a storyline, but they should not be the main focus. Hopefully, in future issues, this will continue to be the case.
Characterization-wise, DeCandido has the crew down pat. In my mind's eye, I could hear each one speaking in the respective actor's voice. The connection between the dream subplot (and title) and the main storyline is not evident here, but will become clear in upcoming issues.
Personally, I found the story quite engaging. If there were a criticism to be made, however, it might be that there was very little real action over the course of the book. We had lots of panels with people talking. On the other hand, we have to remember that this is the first issue of a four-part story. This would bother me a lot more in issue two or three than it does here. I believe it was Pete Pachoumis who told me in an earlier email that this issue basically sets up the storyline and in issue two, everything hits the fan.
DeCandido tells a good story and has a penchant toward adding all sorts of continuity details, connecting the story in some small fashion with several different episodes of the show. In fact, the book even includes a brief reference guide at the end to identify them all, just in case you missed some. (Perhaps that's what edged out Peter's announced pin-up/earlier version of the cover?) I thought I had caught all of Keith's references, but I must admit I didn't remember the Subytts and the Kresari (does anybody?). I believe this kind of attention to detail will be warmly received by most fans.
So that's it. For a first issue, I was well satisfied and am looking forward to the upcoming issues. It's hard to grade the first part of a continuing story (and I think when it's done I'll give an overall grade as well). For now, though, I'll give issue #1 a solid "B" (with full expectation that things are going to be getting better).
"Captain Jim" Zimmerman is the webmaster of the Trek Nation comics site.