A young Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Stargazer beams down to Tellarux 4 against the recommendation of his first officer Jack Crusher. Their mission: diffuse a violent political dispute between brothers on opposing sides. Of course, things take a wrong turn. Like “bleeding to death on a pile of rocks hoping a medic, who also happens to be the fiancee of your F.O. will rescue you from an alien army” wrong.
A well-written one shot that is elevated to the Hall of Fame of Trek one shots thanks to the art.
For those not in the know, the IDW 20/20 is a slate of one-shot comics from across franchises in their library to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the publisher house. We get to see a new side of our beloved characters as they deal with conflict either twenty years into their future or past.
20/20 is new and refreshing and a great take on the event bug that bites every publisher now and then. Until I get to see a Transformers-Turtles-ROM-G.I.Joe-Star Trek-other IDW franchises whose name escapes me right now – all cross over these will do nicely.
Minor spoilers for Star Trek: IDW 20/20 follow.
Catch me up, Scotty
The plot for this one-shot plays great as a TNG prequel. While the premise is a planetary dispute that demands Starfleet attention it turns into a delightful tale of friendship between Jack Crusher, Beverly Howard and a young Jean Luc with a head full of hair and a heart full of ambition.
Peter David is a celebrated comic book writer with a resume that shines with decades of storytelling filled with characters like Aquaman, Hulk, Spider-Man, Star Trek etc. So it is to no one’s surprise that this one-shot is written as well as it is.
The story is perfectly contained in its thirty six pages but like any good prequel it teaches you about the flaws that the characters you love have, and the prospect of revisiting them is even more exciting.
The dialog of characters stays true to who they are at their core but not at the expense of cardboard-cutting present day characters to their present selves. Characters get unreasonably angry, make rash decisions and reflect on their poor choices in this prequel. The follies of their youth are on full display for us to learn from.
The page pictured above? That is page one of this one-shot. How can your heart not break watching Picard like this on the very first page and compel you to pick up this comic?
J.K. Woodward is the best Star Trek comic book artist in my opinion. When the painter of City on the Edge of Forever, Mirror Broken, Star Trek/Doctor Who announced his involvement with 20/20, joy broke across the Twittersphere. Woodward has often remarked about his undying love for Trek and it shows in these pages. From a splash page down to a background detail, every dot is painted with love and care. When an artist cares that much about the project and their art, the pages cannot help but bleed with beauty.
The scenes themselves feel much like part of a Next Gen episode complete with alien planet aesthetics, sparkling phaser fire and speeding starfields as seen through windows. With the right intro and outro music and mouthing of pew-pew and punch sounds, it isn’t impossible to turn this comic into an animated Next Gen special episode.
What’s wrong, Jim?
It is not long enough. There are not enough pages in this one shot! In all seriousness, this one-shot is a great read and very much worthy of your 5$.
Star Trek IDW: 20/20
Writer – Peter David
Artist – J K Woodward
Final rating: Warp 9.5 out of 10