Star Trek 1188: Prime Directives

1188. Prime Directives

PUBLICATION: Starfleet Academy #1, Marvel Comics, December 1996

CREATORS: Chris Cooper (writer), Chris Renaud and Andy Lanning (artists)

STARDATE: Unknown (a week after Little Green Men)

PLOT: At Starfleet Academy, a multi-ethnic team of cadets is assembled. Matthew Decker just got into trouble by stopping a drug ring without permission, and has been assigned to Omega Squad along with DS9's Nog (whom he refuses to become friends with). During a first contact simulation, Nog plugs something into the computer to enhance the simulation, but winds up causing a malfunction that puts his entire team in danger. He realizes the computer has become sentient and is only trying to communicate. Together they manage to, and the computer releases them before disappearing into the ether. Afterward, Vulcan team member T'Priell struggles with mental blocks - she is actually a Romulan spy...

CONTINUITY: Omega Squad includes Nog (fresh off Little Green Men) and Matt Decker (descended from the Deckers of The Doomsday Weapon and The Motion Picture). Admiral Brand (The First Duty) is still in charge of the Academy. Boothby (The First Duty) appears as well. The cadets meet Gorn (Arena) and the Crystalline Entity (Datalore and Silicon Avatar) in a holodeck simulation.

DIVERGENCES: The cadets learn about the fatal first contact with the Klingons and there is video of Pike-era uniforms - this does not agree with Enterprise (Broken Bow).

PANEL OF THE DAY - Why does Nog whine as early as Homefront?
REVIEW: This new series' first issue is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the characters have potential and Chris Cooper manages to cram a lot into the comic. On the other, the art has a distinct 90s look (gritted teeth, Jim Lee-style linework and dodgy poses) and some of the story points are a bit adolescent (the Andorian girl is naked in her first panel and the verb "tonguing" gets its Star Trek debut). The plot is ok, though we've seen sentient holodeck creations before, but there's an intriguing teaser about addicting cadets to brain-enhancing drugs. Whatever happens with the art and stories, Starfleet Academy will live or die based on its characters, and that can be a challenge when you use few established Trek characters. Nog's in it, of course, and he'll be the guy always trying to prove himself. A likable character from Deep Space 9, with a fun perspective. The New Matt DeckerTM brings a sense of history to the series, but he's really your run-of-the-mill loose cannon at this point. The rest of the main cast are women, which should prove an interesting challenge to Nog. Kamilah Goldstein is a mixed Arab/Jew that speaks to Star Trek's hopeful future. Here's hoping she's more than that statement. Pava Ek'Noor Aqabaa is an Andorian warrior, the most physical of the group. Andorians are underused in Trek, so it'll be interesting to see where her culture takes us. And then there's T'Priell, who is apparently a sleeper agent for the Romulans. Boothby and the team's Trill commander Kyethn Zund are in the background, and seem to have an agenda of their own - creating a new breed of officer for the harder times we live in. All in all, a good set-up. The new characters don't have easy-to-remember names, I'm afraid, and I'm underwhelmed by the art, but Starfleet Academy still seems like an enjoyable read.


Jeffrey said...

This was a hard series to like, but eventually Marvel got it right. Too bad the plug was pulled. By the time this ended, it was my favorite series.

I can't wait til you get to Voyager, though. Talk about bad, 90's style art with weird poses. . .

googum said...

I liked Early Voyages better, but then, I liked that one a lot: I really did enjoy Academy until the end.

There's an issue where Nog's reading an old X-Men comic (it makes sense when you get there...) and this series was like the old Claremont/Byrne X-Men, the world tour issues. Shoot, now I want to re-read it again!

Matthew Turnage said...

I didn't read this series when it originally came out, and picked them all up as back issues later. I didn't expect much because of the art style and the type of books Marvel was putting out at the time, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good a read it was. One of the better Star Trek comics, I think.

De said...

While I generally liked this series, it illustrated why a Starfleet Academy series wouldn't work (in my opinion). Having a group of characters at school involved in so much adventure doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

When does the studying happen? I know there's quite a bit of training that goes on, but if current military academy curricula is any indication, it's mostly classroom and studying going on.


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