Star Trek: Waypoint is an anthology series from IDW, made up of one-shot stories from across the series and movies, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. While IDW is no stranger to playing in the media properties sandbox, it’s a tricky task to pay tribute to one of the largest franchises in history, to say nothing of celebrating 50 years worth of content and devoted fan following. So if I was going to say, cut my teeth in comic criticism, this would be a sharp bite to take, no?
Now I don’t use the word serendipity often, but after finding out the first comic I’d be reviewing for W@W was Waypoint #3, coming from two favorites in the Transformers franchise: writer Mairghread Scott (Transformers: Windblade, Toil and Trouble) and illustrator Corin Howell (The X-Files Origins, Transformers: Windblade), the word seemed to fit. Together, Scott and Howell give us “The Wildman Maneuver,” with a Naomi Wildman-eyed view of her and Seven saving a sleepy crew and coffee-deprived captain from alien attackers.
In other hands the concept could have easily come off as cloying. In a broad spectrum of child characters, Star Trek is no stranger to common pitfalls. So there was a minute when I read the issue description and worried that I’d have to write a “stories about children don’t need to be totally infantile” tangent.
But the creators know the characters better than that. It’s clear that Naomi, imagining herself as the crew’s secret weapon, doesn’t become the butt of a joke. Instead, she’s the storyteller, celebrating the awesome people in her life. As far as she’s concerned, Seven is her partner in crime, Janeway can science-as-a-verb her way out of any problem, and Harry is just perpetually playing that damn clarinet.
Scott puts her ability to write clever content for a younger audience to good use writing clever content about a younger narrator. Howell’s art (along with the coloring of Jason Lewis) lends itself giddily to the story, shown filtered through Naomi’s imagination via crayon drawing, without losing her wry emoting skill.
The second story in Waypoint #3 brings us some Bajoran tradition that’s very on-brand with the Bajorans as the galaxy’s reigning Jewish stand-ins, in “Mother’s Walk,” written by Cecil Castellucci (Shade the Changing Girl, Plain Janes) with art by Megan Levens (Angel City, Lady Frankenstein). With an ancient Bajoran celebration of the mother-daughter bond on the horizon, Major Kira is once again left to reflect on the losses both in her personal life and to her people’s culture, post-Cardassian occupation.
The world-building around the tradition feels solid and consistent with what else we’ve seen of Bajor, and it’s always nice to see an alien culture built upon without straying into aggressive bell ringing territory (see if you can sit through “Amok Time” without giggling and tell me I’m wrong).
The Shar da’an story feels organic in the Bajoran setting, and in keeping with the Jewish analogy, I was reading some definite Book of Ruth vibes from the story. I’m not sure if it was the canon timeframe of the story, but I was a little surprised that a story about Kira’s thoughts on mother figures made no reference to the events of “Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night,” but considering how quick the show was to forget them, I’m not that surprised.
A story that could’ve easily strayed into being overly mournful or saccharine holds a serene balance, touching on issues of faith and moving forward with the family you make for yourself. It feels thoughtful without getting too ponderous.
Levens’ artwork is detail-rich and successfully walks the line of looking like the original actors without getting uncanny. Credit is also due to colorist Sarah Stern for keeping with the show’s moody coloration without getting overpowered by some of the more 90’s design choices.
Both stories work well in and out of the context of their respective series. “The Wildman Maneuver” is an upbeat romp and “Mother’s Walk” a sweet parable of community and family. They both carry a universal theme in Star Trek: that respect, love and family are the great strengtheners. Corny yes, but relevant. That’s the value that elevates Trek characters beyond being a bunch of nine-to-fivers in space into a true team. It’s that kind of optimism that’s carried the franchise onward through fifty years, and makes for one hell of a fitting tribute.