IDW Star Trek ongoing #39 The Q Gambit part 5Hello Trekkies!

(WARNING! SPOILER ALERT!!)

Once-again, I’ve awoken to Star Trek awesomeness in my dropbox; and – on top of that, I find I was mentioned in a Rene Auberjonois (Odo) Tweet (in-regards to my previous review of Issue 38). That was pretty cool! Thanks to you, we’ve had a stellar inaugural year at Visionary Trek, and…for 2015, ‘…it’s nothing-but blue skies, do we see…’ As you know, I have released my End of the Year Review, picking my personal favorites from IDW in 2014; but – PLEASE, be sure to listen to Michael Clark and Bunny Summers on The Holodeck, Dec. 22, as they recap the year and pick their favorites. I can’t wait to hear their opinions on Best Story, Best Cover, Best Artist(s), etc. We’ll be posting the link to the podcast, as soon as the show is ready…

Today, I get the privilege of reviewing the next chapter in The Q Gambit: Issue 39. Can I just say: Ho Ho Ho! Santa has warped-in early, baby, ’cause, Part 5 is the best issue, thus-far! Also, Tony Shasteen has graciously allowed me to ‘interview’ him, giving us some insights on his participation in this incredible series. I’ve been hearing a lot of feedback from folks around the globe, and – like me, they love The Q Gambit! We’ll get to Tony’s feedback, shortly…

DS9-Dukat-Pah-WraithThe story, so far… Q has made his alternate-universe debut and he’s set his sights on Captain James T. Kirk; setting-up a ‘no-win scenario’ that takes place over a century in the future. Lost to time, Kirk finds himself at Terok Nor, under the command of Gul Dukat and a Dominion occupation. The Federation is no-more, and – Earth is now a colony world, ruled under the flag of the Klingon Empire. Separated from his crew and ship, Kirk is ‘forced’ into an alliance with Benjamin Sisko, who co-leads a rebellion force against the Dominion/Cardassian regime. The rest of Kirk’s crew are being held at Terok Nor, where they meet-up with several old friends. In a sinister attack on Earth, the Dominion kills Governor Worf in an attempted coup, while Quark, (on Bajor), betrays Kira (who has possession of the ‘reckoning tablet’) to Dukat. When we left off, Dukat had smashed the tablet, releasing the Prophet and Pah Wraith spirits… Kirk and Sisko had escaped Earth (after thwarting the Founders), and are en-route to Paradise… Q, meanwhile, devilishly-watches from the periphery; as-always, the omniscient trickster in these events…

Jadzia-Dax-Q-Gambit-39We open this issue with Dukat, being possessed by the Pah Wraith; while – the last existing Prophet, seeks out a vessel. Dukat isn’t going to allow that, though. With no one to inhabit, it flees the station, leaving everyone, including Bones, an ever-logical Spock and, an unconcerned Dukat – (a madman, filled with venomous hate and over-confidence) behind. On Paradise, Kirk and Sisko find devastation; the Dominion has attacked the outpost, leaving very few survivors, (among them, are Jake Sisko and Jadzia Dax). Hope for Kirk and the Free Federation Rebellion seems to be dwindling by-the-second. All-too-aware of this, Kirk calls out for Q, demanding answers. Q offers nothing-but headache, as he continues to play his latest game with the captain. In-the-meantime, the Prophet finds Benjamin and joins with him…

Now, controlled by the Wraith, Dukat begins his ‘ascension’ to godhood; his mission is to return to the Bajoran Wormhole for Pah Wraith reinforcements, and nothing will stand in his way. The Dominion is of no concern to him; indeed – everything, and everyone, is beneath him, now. He sets-course for the wormhole, commanding the Enterprise. In-the-interim, Chekov and Sulu break-free and meet-up with Spock and Bones, where they battle against their oppressors, to take control of Terok Nor. Dukat has entered the wormhole to find the Pah Wraiths; Kirk and Sisko, having arrived with the Defiant, are about to go after him, when Q arrives. He finally lays his cards on the table…

Enterprise-DS9-Q-Gambit-39Michael and I agree, this story just keeps getting better with every issue. Mike Johnson has woven a tapestry of incredible brilliance, combining many references and story-plots that are well-known, while warping all of that into a tale that is fresh, rapid-paced, full of adventure and drama, and dares to turn the Alpha Quadrant on its ear. Once-again, it’s Sisko vs Dukat, in a struggle of good vs evil. This is how I envisioned that battle (in my mind’s eye) playing-out on the finale, What You Leave Behind. This is Q, at his very best, as he taunts Kirk, [this time]. Oh, how I’ve longed to see this long-overdue meeting-up, between the two of them; and – Mike Johnson and Sarah Gaydos have gone above-and-beyond in its telling. It’s going to be a long wait for the final chapter, as Mike has left us sitting on the edge of our seats, with everyone’s futures hanging in the balance! Tony Shasteen said this about the conclusion: “Just wait, ’til next-issue. I’m finishing it up now, and I was so excited reading the last script! Mike is so good.”

I will admit, I was taken by surprise, with Dukat’s actions after being possessed by the Pah Wraith, (when the Prophet was looking for a host) and  – what he does will shake you to the core; but – it had to be this way!  We knew, deep-down, that it had to be Sisko who would be chosen as the Prophet’s ’emissary’, in this, the final showdown, against his arch-nemesis, Dukat. We’re rewarded with the return of MY favorite Trill, Jadzia Dax; this too, was a refreshing surprise. It was a sad day when Jadzia was murdered by Dukat on the show; and, as you’ll see for yourself, her reappearance here is kinda full-circle. I’m glad to see Jake’s arrival, on-scene; as that iconic father/son relationship played a key-role in how I raised my own kids. For me, it’s been terrific seeing our beloved DS9 characters, crossed-up with Captain Kirk, and this movie crew, while Q pulls the strings of everyone involved. It’s been a mind-blowing ride!!

Kirk-&-Q-Q-Gambit-39Of course, none of this would have been possible, without IDW newcomer, Tony Shasteen, bringing these characters to life, (as he has in every issue). His art is top-of-the-line in every aspect: his likenesses are uncanny, the details he provides are vast, his ships are dead-on (the jewel, DS9, is spectacular in every panel) and Tony’s space battles are epic; plus – his covers are sensational, and rich with color and clues. He’s done a tremendous job all-the-way-around, and I applaud him. What a phenomenal debut he’s made at IDW! He took some time to answer a couple of my questions.

Lt. Eric Cone (LEC): What it was like to work on this series?
Tony Shasteen (TS): I know it’s an overused phrase, but it really is a dream come true. These six issues have been the most fun I’ve ever had on a book. Being involved in the Trek world is both exciting and more-than a little daunting. It has such a rich history and I just don’t want to mess anything up.

Well, buddy, you can put those worries behind you, ’cause – in my book, you’ve rocked this thing, man!!

IDW Star Trek ongoing #40 The Q Gambit part 6LEC: Have you worked with Davide Mastrolonardo, before? (You will note, that Tony got an assist on colors, for this issue.)
TS: I haven’t. Sarah [Gaydos] sent me some possible colorists and his work definitely stood out. With a book like this, the likenesses are incredibly important, and that has as much to do with the coloring as it does with the drawing. Davide renders the characters perfectly. He’s doing a great job!”

Although, Tony misses coloring the book, he assures us that its in capable hands. I agree. Had I not known (from reading the credits) that Tony wasn’t the colorist, I’d have never noticed the handoff Davide and Tony have had. So, yeah… Excellent, Davide. I’m impressed.

LEC: Your work seems to suggest, that there is a great communication network between you, Mike and Sarah. How’s it been, working together?
TS: Mike and Sarah are amazing to work with. I definitely like to think we click. Most of the communication I have on a daily-basis is with Sarah. She’s a great cat herder (i.e. Editor). (Ahem… I have a couple of those… [Wink]) I love working off Mike’s scripts. He’s got such a great grasp of the characters. I can hear their voices when I read the pages. He’s such a great writer. I don’t have to get in-touch with questions…ever! Mike and Sarah make my job easy. I’ve stated this, from the beginning; Mike Johnson knows his Trek, and he writes these characters flawlessly. This series has really been fun.

Planet-of-the-Apes-Q-Gambit-39LEC: Do you have any upcoming projects in-discussion with IDW?
TS: I’m checking with IDW to see what news I can share. I’ll get with you shortly on that.

Well, Thank you, very-much for your insights and thoughts, Tony. It’s been a great privilege corresponding with you during this series’ run. I’m sure Michael and Bunny would be quite-honored to have you as a guest, on The Holodeck.

Needless-to-say, it’s going to be a drawn-out, calendar-watching wait for this series’ conclusion, but there are a few things to keep my appetite for Star Trek satisfied, until-then. Did you check out that preview of the TOS/Planet of the Apes crossover, by the Tipton Brothers?! Whoa… Be sure to check-in, then, and see what’s up. Again, all my best to YOU, and yours, for the holidays!

‘Til, next-time, see ya ‘out there…’

Lt. Eric Cone