Star Trek 1235: Culture Clash

1235. Culture Clash

PUBLICATION: Starfleet Academy #17, Marvel Comics, April 1998

CREATORS: Chris Cooper (writer), John Royle and Tom Wegrzyn (artists)

STARDATE: Unknown (follows the last issue)

PLOT: Selke/T'Priell is sent to Vulcan with Zund and Edam to have her katra released. However, her two personae are too intimately linked and there seems to be no way to remove one without destroying both. Edam enters her mindscape and using Zund's Trill experience, has the two sides reconcile. Selke/T'Priell then becomes a merged person, accepted by both T'Priell's parents and Starfleet Academy. Meanwhile, Halakith, the last surviving member of the reptilian species encountered in the last few issues (and who turns out to be female), is outraged to find that Yoshi of Nebula Squadron is gay. Yoshi is just as outraged at her bigotry. Matt forces the two to get along, and Halakith is accepted into the Academy on Nebula Squadron. So now, they'll HAVE to get along.

CONTINUITY: See previous issues (katra). The Vulcan temple shown is from The Search for Spock. Much of the action occurs on DS9, and features appearances by Ben and Jake Sisko. T'Priell uses a lirpa to fight inside her mind (Amok Time).

DIVERGENCES: Quark's holosuite looks like the larger Federation design.

PANEL OF THE DAY - The final frontier
REVIEW: Oops, the T'Priell story wasn't quite done! So the stuff about her katra is addressed, and Cooper correctly uses the Trill in the cast to bring about an acceptable resolution to the arc. Necessarily more interesting is the B-story which deals with a character's just-revealed homosexuality. While the Star Trek ethos would seem to be accepting of homosexuality, as it is of every other "difference", the various shows have shied away from the subject (or tackled with a mixed message, such as in the horrible The Outcast). DS9 has come closest (and I don't mean only in the girl-on-girl action of the Mirror Universe, but see Rules of Acquisition and, I guess, Rejoined). Halakith has a good reason for homosexuality to be taboo for her endangered (now all but extinct) species, but acts as a stand-in for any violently homophobic person. The irony of her looking male (the creators correctly don't give this reptile any mammalian sexual features, which is rare in and of itself) is not lost on the reader. Federation peoples, for their part, have gotten over this kind of thing. Jake calls human sexuality "fluid" (we do have sex with a lot of other species, don't we?), and Pava suggests that Andorans have a proud Sapphic tradition. The dialog almost veers into pulpit-thumping, but never quite reaches that grating level. Some characters are amused by the situation, which I think is the best way to play it (again, see Rules of Acquisition). So let's applaud Cooper for introducing an actual gay male character in a Star Trek context for the first time (Bart in the S.C.E. ebook series will come later). I'm only mildly surprised that Paramount authorized it, or if Marvel's soon lapsing license allowed some things to get by the usual people.

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