'False Colors' Review

By "Captain Jim" Zimmerman
Posted at November 24, 1999 - 6:00 AM GMT


Written by Nathan Archer, Pencils by Jeffrey Moy, Inks by W. C. Carani
Published by WildStorm Productions

It's been something like a year and a half since Marvel Comics gave up the Star Trek license and published their last book. This is the longest fans have ever gone without a Star Trek comic, since Gold Key first started producing them in the 1960's. Add to that the fact that the Marvel line left a lot to be desired, both creatively and in terms of sales, and it's easy to see why fans have been anxious for the advent of the WildStorm line. The long wait is over; Star Trek: Voyager-False Colors debuted today (Wednesday, November 24).

In his article in the latest Star Trek Communicator magazine, Rich Handley suggests that "With Voyager the only current Star Trek television series in production, this would appear a logical starting point for WildStorm's run." This is certainly a good point. On the other hand, though, it's no secret that Voyager's ratings have left a lot to be desired. Following this book up with a TNG limited series (Perchance to Dream-the first issue of which is scheduled to be released in a mere two weeks) is probably a good idea.

False Colors is published in what DC Comics likes to refer to as its "prestige format." For those not "in the know," this is a thicker book (44 story pages in this instance), with glossy paper, a cardboard cover, square spine, and no ads. It's a very nice package, but the price tends to be a little steep: $5.95 U.S. (The regular format Trek comics will sell for $2.50. This book is about the length of two of them, so you're paying about a dollar extra for the frills.) In most readers' judgement, the price is worth it if the contents are of high enough quality. Was this book worth its price tag? In my estimation, yes, it was.

This first WildStorm Trek comic was released with two alternate covers. This is a fairly common marketing ploy nowadays. One is a Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine photo cover; the other features pencil art by WildStorm editorial director Jim Lee and inks by Scott Williams. Here's the good news: no matter which version you buy, you'll find the art for both in the back of the book-as well as the Moy and Carani "pin-up" which received considerable advance exposure. So only the most compulsive of fans will find it necessary to buy both versions.

To my surprise, the photo cover is quite striking. Marvel had done one or two photo covers, which, frankly, looked pretty bad-simply a routine file photo paste up. This is a very nice photo of Jeri with a large Star Trek communicator in the background, half of which has the surface of a Borg ship. Stars are in the far background behind the symbol. My description doesn't do it justice. (Need I add that this is the version I bought?) This cover design is credited to Alex Sinclair.

Jim Lee has a large number of fans who love his work, but frankly, his cover art didn't look like anything special in my estimation. In fact, of the two, I think the Moy/Carani "pin-up" is a much better piece than the Lee/Williams cover. I suspect that the former was originally designed as a possible cover, and I still think it would have made a good one. It makes no difference though; you get all three pieces in the back of the book.

The interior art, again by Moy and Carani, is quite satisfactory, in my opinion. They employ very nice page layout, and the characters are always recognizable. (Lack of this quality in some previous comics has often been a point of contention with the fans.) It's obvious that they did their homework; several poses by Janeway and Seven were recognizable from the show.

The script by Nathan Archer was well done. Contrary to what I read somewhere else, Archer is not really a Trek newcomer. He's previously written Trek paperback novels for Pocket Books.

As is probably obvious from the cover of the book, this is a story in which Seven of Nine plays a key role. It is not purely a Seven-story, however, as all of the command crew are involved to one degree or another. In addition to Seven, Chakotay and Tuvok are also members of the away team and as such receive a fair amount of exposure. Janeway, Paris, Kim and Torres have somewhat less but still substantial roles. Neelix and the Doctor are seen, but play a small part in the storyline. No complaints here; you can't expect everyone to have a major part in every story.

As indicated in the advance publicity, this story pertains to an encounter between Voyager and a ship which may or may not be Borg. Since this much-larger ship is holding Voyager in a tractor beam which is degrading its shields, the decision is made to send an away team to the other ship. And since the ship is clearly using Borg technology, they decide to disguise the away team as Borg, in hopes that the ship's defenses won't consider them a threat. As it turns out, it's an alien race which has pirated Borg technology from the debris of cubes and are also masquerading as Borg. (Really funky looking aliens; they've got holes in their heads-literally! One of those things you can do in comics that you could never do on screen.) It's kind of cool when Voyager's away team finally gains entry to the ship.

Alien: "We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance."
Seven: "You are not Borg. We are the Borg. We have come to reclaim what you have stolen."
Chakotay: (to Tuvok) "I hope she knows what she's doing."
Seven: "Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated."
The aliens look at each other and then run away.

In short, Seven is then able to gain control of the Borg technology in the ship, but we're not sure if that's a good thing or not. Could she perhaps be merging with it, losing her identity?

While not a classic, this is nevertheless a very entertaining story which is well written. Not only does is it have a good plot, the crew are also handled well. Everyone seems very much in character.

So, in summary, I'm well satisfied and consider this a very good book with which to inaugurate the new Trek comics line. Grade: B+/A-

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

"Captain Jim" Zimmerman is the webmaster of the Trek Nation comics site.