Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Hero Factor

Author: Michael Jan Friedman
Artist: Pablo Marcos
Titan Books
RRP: 14.99, US $19.95
ISBN 1 84576 153 7
Available 21 October 2005

Picard visits the planet Raimon, where the inhabitants have an unusual attitude towards death, and he is plunged into a murder mystery; a humble engineer must become a hero when a strange, alien race tries to abduct Riker and his away team; and an old flame of LaForge, who has been rescued from a dying planet, conceals a terrible secret...

There I was, all set to discuss the relative merits of DC Comics' original six-issue Star Trek: The Next Generation mini-series, when the graphic novel that actually arrived for review turned out to be a collection containing the first six issues of DC's second series of TNG, which began in 1989.

Not that this is a bad thing. Michael Jan Friedman's writing flows more smoothly than that of his predecessor, Mike Carlin. Unlike Carlin (who, to be fair, was writing before the series had even debuted on TV), Friedman has a good understanding of the characters he is working with: there's no clairvoyant Troi or emotional Data here. As though to set to record straight, Troi points out to the reader, during the first issue, that she detects no discernible emotions from the android. Friedman's dialogue, particularly that of Picard and Riker, is sometimes a bit stilted, but then that's how it was on the television show at the time (the first four issues are set during the early part of Season 2, while the fifth and sixth take place near the beginning of Season 3).

Each story lasts for two 24-page issues, a duration that makes the stories feel very much like television episodes. My favourite is the middle one, which is set aboard a mysterious, alien derelict.

The downside of this collection is that Pablo Marcos' art looks rather untidy. His work was better during the initial mini-series, during which time he was assisted by Carlos Garzon and Arne Starr. Furthermore, he persists in drawing aliens that look like Dr Seuss' Grinch: take a look at the Raimonians in the first story.

In terms of presentation, my only complaints are that a few characters of text are missing from speech bubbles in issue 3 (not that this affects the reader's understanding of the story) and, though the covers from issues 1-5 are reprinted at the back of the book, the cover of issue 6 is absent for some reason. This volume also includes a couple of decade-old interviews, with Patrick (Picard) Stewart and Brent (Data) Spiner respectively.

Though not the greatest TNG comics tales ever told, this collection should be sufficient to - as Picard would say - engage most fans' interest.

Richard McGinlay

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