Warning: This article contains spoilers that some readers may prefer to avoid.

Hellooo Trekkies!

Star Trek Ongoing The GambitThis time-’round, I’m pleased to announce some good news for our little band at Visionary Trek! It seems Michael and Bunny, of The Holodeck Podcast, have been working-hard behind-the-scenes and they’ve landed a major gig. OPEN CHANNELS is a new feature of IDW Star Trek Ongoing. In Issue 35, Sarah Gaydos and Mike Johnson, (with the help of The Holodeck Podcast), give you some behind-the-scenes information and sneak-peeks on future Star Trek comics; plus – in future issues, YOU, the fans, have a chance to send in your queries and comments, and participate (as we Trekkies so-love to do). IDW want your questions, so get them ready! You will see its launch, with an interview, by The Holodeck podcast team, at the back of this issue to launch OPEN CHANNELS.

IDW has been putting out some stellar material, lately. It’s been one great story after another: it began with Parallel Lives, then came I, Enterprise, next-up was Lost Apollo and, finally – (3 weeks ago) we had the privilege of bearing-witness to Harlan Ellison’s  City on the Edge of Forever. Folks, I am over-the-moon with excitement for these tremendous ongoing stories, (and – that retelling of a ‘classic’); as-well-as, with the spectacular art that these incredibly-talented people are filling these pages with. Star Trek LIVES!

Today, I’m pleased to review, yet-another; and it’s my honor to welcome a new artist to the IDW team, as well. Tony Shasteen is taking full-responsibility on IDW’s ‘The Q Gambit’ by proving, both – covers, and interior art. He’s doing all of the pencils, inks and colors, and – damn, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen in this first issue. His likenesses are uncanny, the detail and coloring are magnificent and he definitely has what it takes to make #GreatStarTrek. You are not going to be disappointed in this first issue.

Something I’ve always wondered about, and have wanted to see, is a story with Captain James T. Kirk and Q. How would they respond to each other? What devilish tricks would our omniscient prankster play on our heroic captain and his legendary crew? Would Kirk be up to the task of besting Q, as other captains have? We’re about to find out, as we begin this dazzling 6-part series: ‘The Q Gambit.’

The story begins on Captain Data’s Enterprise, as Ambassador Picard is thinking about Nero and the loss of Spock; he’s still feeling the wounds of Spock’s ultimate sacrifice, albeit – Spock’s averting the threat Nero cast-upon the Federation, and – indeed, upon Romulus. Picard orders his favorite beverage, only to hear a familiar, if-not snarky reply: Q. Mike Johnson knows his Q and Tony Shasteen’s renderings are beautifully-executed. You can almost-see this playing-out on a screen! After goading Picard, in ‘True-Q’ style, Q relates that Spock lives and that he has doomed the prime universe that’s been created. Calm down haters… Q seeks Picard’s counsel, but Jean-Luc wants no part in it. Rebuffed by Picard, Q flashes-out, on the promise he will interfere in Kirk’s new timeline, leaving Picard reconsidering his abrupt decision to not hear Q out…

The U.S.S. Enterprise N.C.C. 1701 is warping-through the Menzies System, several-months into it’s five-year mission: the ship’s running good, morale is high and Capt. Kirk is feeling comfortable with his crew. Kirk enters the turbolift and heads for the bridge. A red-shirted Q (Huhh! If-only it were so easy to be rid of him…) startles the captain, and – Q makes a statement about it being an honor to serve with Kirk aboard the Enterprise. It’s a great homage to another captain [my favorite, as you all know], and it’s telling about where this story is going to go. I suspect, this encounter is Q’s way of getting a first-impression of Kirk. Q leaves the captain confused, by referencing Picard’s Enterprise color-scheme. I’m loving this story’s fun. It’s reminiscent of a Peter David yarn. As you all know, PAD is the master of all things Q and Mike Johnson seems to be taking cues from Peter David’s style of writing. It works for me, ’cause I’m a huge fan of Peter’s books.

The fun and games are over for Kirk, though, as suddenly the ship is surrounded by Klingons, who’ve come out of nowhere. They are giving the ship a pounding and easily have the upper-hand; indeed – the Enterprise is destroyed! The action and drama of the battle made me completely forget about Q! I was like: “Whoa! Damn!” Fortunately, the ship is safe and sound. Or, is it?

We see hands clapping…

Now, Q is in captain’s gold, sprawled-out in the captain’s chair as if he owns the ship. Funny, as I was reminded of Mudd in this panel… Kirk is taken-aback, totally confused by what’s just transpired and he’s demanding answers; especially of Q. With a snap of Q’s fingers, Kirk finds himself on the hull of his ship, in an impromptu meeting with our be-devilish rogue. Tony Shasteen’s comic-art likeness of Q has made me realize something here: John de Lancie’s Q, is – to the captains, as – The Joker is, to Batman! How did I never see this, before?! But, Q gives Kirk the lowdown on who/what he is, that the Kobayashi Maru was a test/lesson to Kirk that there are no-win scenarios and that Kirk, despite his ‘luck’ is susceptible to falling-victim to his immortality. He gives Kirk a ‘Tapestry’-esque look-back on his death at the hands of Khan, months-earlier. Q let’s Kirk know that even-beating death, his confidence is misplaced and Q’s going to show him why… What is it with Q, and whispering in people’s ears? How did that even become a thing with him? I don’t recall the other Q ever doing it… How about you?

Back on the bridge, Kirk and Spock confer about what the captain’s been involved in, trying to figure out who/what Q is and what his motives are. Good luck with that… Right? Chekov informs them that they have been sent clear-across the quadrant and that they are approaching something very large; plus – they’re not in the proper timeframe, either…

We close, with a shot of Deep Space Nine… The Enterprise is dwarfed by the sheer-size of that jewel of the Bajor System, and the ship is facing 3 Klingon Birds of Prey, (I think…) End

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with this debut in this series. It’s fantastic! I liked the return of Picard and how Spock’s loss has affected him, personally. It was great seeing Picard’s long-time adversary sparring with him, again; setting us up for the events to come. I thought the opening-scene of Q and Captain Kirk was brilliant, and Mike manages to shine a spotlight on Sisko and Picard with Q’s offhand comments. The Kobayashi Maru scene was intense; as I said, it made me forget Q, for just a moment. That was an incredible piece of work, in both – story, and – presentation. I liked the reliving of Kirk’s death and the fact that Q knocks Kirk down a peg, or two. Q’s actions are often questionable, but his intentions are always laudable: he only wants to see the human race reach its full-potential; maybe, one day joining the Continuum. I am blown-way by the art of Tony Shasteen, and I’m confident that IDW has picked the right man for this epic series. I highly-recommend, that you go and get your copy, so you can see for yourself, why I’m so excited.

So… What can we expect from issue 36? I don’t have a bloody clue; but you know Q is far-from ‘gone’ and the cover-sneak for the next issue shows a dark, brooding Benjamin Sisko, with the wormhole blossoming-open above them. All I know is, this opener was totally-awesome! The meeting of Kirk and Q was everything I’ve ever hoped for, and I can’t wait to see how this plays-out! BTW: If Bunny can be won-over and end-up liking Q, well…you’ve done something extraordinary. I love Bunny, but she’s a hard nut to crack; so, I applaud this team at IDW, whole-heartedly.

Kudos to Mike Johnson, Roberto Orci, Sarah Gaydos, Neil Uyetake (letters), and – of course, Tony Shasteen, who’s art is incredible! We’ve got a winner, with this guy, folks!

Now…if I had a question for OPEN CHANNELS, it would be: Why choose DS9, instead of something from Star Trek: Enterprise. As we ALL know, Enterprise has never had a comic, and this could have been a great opportunity to put that franchise on the drawing-board. Any number of scenarios could’ve been used, (as time in the past can be jeopardized, JUST-the-same, as it can be in the future…) Right? Especially, where Q is concerned.

‘Til, next-time, see ya ‘out there…’

Lt. Eric Cone