Jun 4, 2013

[Comics] Star Trek: The Next Generation - Hive

The Borg are one of the most memorable and ironically beloved races in all of Star Trek fandom. Since their introduction in Star Trek: The Next Generation, we've seen the crew of the Enterprise-D engage in a number of adventures involving this race of cybernetic humanoids. And the Borg were further explored in Star Trek: Voyager given their little ship had been thrown directly into Borg space far away from Federation support.

And while these various shows are no longer on the air, races like the Borg continue to see the light of day in the various works of fiction that make up the Star Trek franchise. In this case, there are the various licensed novels set in the Star Trek universe and of course comic books that also follow their adventures. I recently got a chance to acquire a number of these comics via a well-time sale over on comiXology, and it has certainly made for interesting reading. And of course I picked up this title in particular given I am one of the any fans of the Borg given the interesting adversary they represent for the Federation at large. And this comic nicely tries to tie together a lot of different Borg "milestones" of sorts given the various TV shows and even the movie Star Trek: First Contact.

Synopsis: Star Trek: The Next Generation - Hive is a 4-issue limited comic book series published by IDW Publishing. The comic is based on a story by Brannon Braga with scripting by Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett.

The story begins in a dark future where the Federation has been completely overrun by the Borg and Locutus, once Jean-Luc Picard, now rules as the "king" of the Borg - a companion to the Borg Queen. Thus the natural question comes up - how did the Borg succeed in conquering the Federation? Why is Picard back among the Borg? Can things still be turned around?

This brings us back to the past well before the Borg's triumph. Supposedly the Borg are on the run from a superior race that they had discovered between the conventional dimensions of space. And now they seek the aid of the Federation to survive. And he liaison that they assign to interact with the Enterprise is none other than Seven of Nine, who had returned to the collective some time after the events of Star Trek: Voyager.

Thus we get to watch the various timelines meet, in a way. The first mystery is to better understand how the Borg ultimately conquered the Federation. And then we have the other question of how things might be reversed - is there still a way to salvage things in order to defeat the Borg's final push?

In this regard, you already know that this story will inevitably deal with time travel at one point in time or another. And given the Borg are present, it'll be simple enough to "cheat" the challenge of time travel since the Borg have access to tremendously superior technology. And this does involve Brannon Braga after all, so he knows when to pull out a technological trick out of the proverbial hat in order to push the story forward.

The comic is a fun and interesting read given how it tries to juggle the different timelines and advance the respective plots. You know that sooner or later everything is going to meet in some narrative "middle" - but getting there is half the fun.

The art is decent enough but nothing to write home about. It's always tricky to deal with comic books like this that have to capture TV actors visually without looking like photo extracts alone. Thus you aim to be as accuracy as possible using various visual pegs from the show and yet you need to be confident enough to go beyond those begs and imagine the characters in new positions and arrangements. Thus we get those awkward images from time to time that still look like the original actors and yet don't quite look perfectly right either. It doesn't quite get in the way of the narrative experience, but it is a somewhat annoying distraction from time to time.

In the end, the whole comic series does feel like a fairly compelling two-part episode of a Star Trek TV series. Going the comic book route means one doesn't have to worry about budgets and the limitations of special effects technology and thus having a whole Federation of Borg is easy enough to create as images on a page. It's worth the purchase should you get the chance, but I won't go as far as saying that it's the best comic book series ever.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Hive is a fun return to the Star Trek universe and a great opportunity to see the Borg be, well, the Borg. Thus I rate the comic as 4 advanced Borg drones out of a possible 5.

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