GRAPHIC NOVEL
Star Trek: Voyager
Encounters with the Unknown
Authors: Various
Artists: Jeffrey Moy, W.C. Carani and others
Titan Books
RRP 12.99
ISBN 1 84023 320 6
Available now


The crew of
Voyager discover Borg that aren't really Borg; a medieval society threatened by the catastrophic effects of alien intervention; a deadly trial by fire for a new elite security force; and an enemy that once challenged James T. Kirk...

This collection brings together three one-shot specials and a three-issue mini-series.

The first story, False Colors, is an interesting spin on the threat of the Borg. Writer Nathan Archer mostly gets the characters of the Voyager crew right, although there are some clunky lines of dialogue. "I can't be sure," says Torres early on in the tale, "but it appears this ship was destroyed by the Borg." "The Borg?" asks Janeway, "Are you sure?" No, Captain - Torres just said that she couldn't be sure, didn't she?! Writers can just about get away with this kind of dialogue on TV, but not on the printed page.

The art, by Jeffrey Moy, Philip Moy and W.C. Carani, is mostly nice and well defined. There is one slight goof, however: when disguising themselves as Borg drones, Chakotay, Tuvok and Seven retain their hair, when they should have been bald. On the other hand, the visual strengths of the medium are ably demonstrated by some holey-headed aliens, which would have been difficult to realise on TV!

Avalon Rising ties in with that sub-genre of Trek that Voyager has made its own: accounts of the crew's exploits as seen from an alien point of view. In this instance, the perspective depicted by writers Janine Ellen Young and Doselle Young is that of a young medieval squire. The story also focuses on the character of the Doctor, who once again toes the line of Starfleet's non-interference directive.

The third story, Elite Force, is based on the Star Trek: Voyager computer game of the same name. As such, there is little in the way of plot, besides shooting things in the style of Doom or Resident Evil. Some of the creatures encountered owe a debt to the warrior bugs in Starship Troopers. There are also unfortunate similarities to False Colors in that both stories feature the Borg plus another alien presence that seeks to scavenge spare parts from space vessels.

The likenesses of the TV series' actors are reasonably rendered in each of the first three stories. The trouble with transferring screen characters to comics is that artists cannot afford to take liberties with the look of the original show (as opposed to the vast diversity of styles that have graced the pages of Superman or Judge Dredd) or they will invite the wrath of fans.

The collection is rounded off by the three-part Planet Killer, a sequel to one of my favourite Classic Trek episodes, The Doomsday Machine. The likenesses here are the most accurate in the entire collection, although the stylised artwork of Robert Teranishi and Claude St. Aubin makes it difficult to decipher what is actually happening in certain frames.

Compared to the previous three stories, words are few and far between in Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith's script. Even so, several text panels opt to tell rather than show the reader information. Planet Killer is a magnificent example of style over substance. However, its conclusion is as tense as the brilliant climax to the original Doomsday Machine.

A varied and enjoyable collection.

Richard McGinlay

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