1184. Message in a Bottle / Sins of the Fathers
PUBLICATION: Star Trek Unlimited #3, Marvel Comics, April 1997
CREATORS: Dan Abnett and Ian Edginton (writers), Mark Buckingham and Kev Sutherland / Ron Randall and Al Williamson (artists)
STARDATE: 5989.6 (follows the last issue) / 48293.5 (follows the last issue)
PLOT: In Message in a Bottle, Kirk, Uhura, Sulu and a small crew fly a shuttle into a spatial anomaly from which completely alien signals are coming. On the trip in, Kirk is injuring during turbulence and Uhura takes command of the mission. The interior of the anomaly itself is a life form, and in trying to communicate, it destroys the shuttle. The crew get out in time in EVA suits and Uhura uses the thing's signals to piggyback her own and get the crew beamed out of there. In Sins of the Fathers, The Enterprise-D is called in to mediate on a planet embroiled in a long civil war. One side, religious terrorists, the other godless ethnic cleansers. After being attacked by a terrorist who is injured in that attack, Crusher nurses her back to health and discovers the horrible truth - the other side has been removing their enemies' fertile eggs and raising them as their own to make up for the fact they are mostly infertile due to fallout. The information reaches the ears of a terrorist pilot who has stolen a shuttle and is about to drop a dirty bomb on their enemy's camps, and since their faith prevents them from killing their own, breaks it off. The two sides are ethically the same, so rebuilding can now perhaps begin.
CONTINUITY: Nurse Chapel appears in the TOS story. Nurse Ogawa appears in the TNG story. Geordi mentions the baseball team on Cestus III (Family Business).
DIVERGENCES: The communications station seems to have switched places while Uhura is away. Message in a Bottle is also the title of a Voyager episode.
PANEL OF THE DAY - Planet Palestine
REVIEW: Abnett and Edginton have been very good at not only crafting stories that feel like they could have been part of each era, but at creating subtle thematic links between the stories. In this issue, both stories put an often neglected female cast member in the spotlight and to good effect too. I'm always happy to read a story in which Uhura shines, and Message in a Bottle is a great one. Not only does it make great use of her skills, but it puts her in command and in a position to make a great sacrifice that pays off. Beautiful artwork too, and just the right note at the end when the slightly misogynist character of Corman shows up, ostensibly to apologize. The focus not only on Crusher, but on only female guest characters is likewise strong. A "current affairs fable" in the TNG style that reminds us of half a dozen modern genocides as well as the Israeli-Palestinian question, it balances its harsh images with a little bit of dogfighting action. All very well realized, with quick endings, but enough there to infer resolutions rather than explicitly state them.