Comics Review: Picard’s Academy: Commit No Mistakes

Cover image from Picard's Academy showing a young Picard and other cadets with the Golden Gate bridge in the backgroundStar Trek Picard’s Academy: Commit No Mistakes explores a hitherto unexplored time in Picard’s life – the years he attended Starfleet Academy. Ambitiously, it attempts to bridge the childhood trauma presented in Star Trek: Picard Season 2 and the established Ensign Picard canon of TNG 615, “Tapestry,” where we meet the hotheaded young officer Picard later regrets being.

While it touches on the homefront dysfunction that drives Jean-Luc to seek freedom in the stars, this first arc of Picard’s Academy is a relatively light foray into the interpersonal relationship skills that will prove foundational to Picard’s future as captain, diplomat, and friend.

With an art style that conveys highly energetic – even frenetic – pacing and a cast of characters full of youthful humour and irreverence, the six-part series sits in a unique space that blends the look of Astro Boy with the hijinks of the classic Archie Andrews Riverdale gang. Specifically, this artistic take on a Picard with hair creates a visual gulf, distancing him from the Picard we know. (Although, I’ll confess that his vision in Part 2 of his future captain self with flowing locks cracked me up.)

But don’t be misled by the ensemble of archetypal high school personalities. This is Star Trek, and there are deliberate choices made to anchor it in the lore even while the central characters stress about tests, flirtations, and graduation plans.

Spock in a panel from Picard's Academy issue 4

First of all, there’s Spock. That’s always a dead giveaway that the creators want the work imbued with Trek authenticity. And despite the fact there isn’t much Prime Timeline canon that locates Spock at the Academy during Picard’s years there, the Vulcan’s position as a guest professor (as explained in Part 2) isn’t a stretch of the imagination.

Additionally, there’s Marty, aka Marta Batanides, who will remain friends with Picard after graduation, as evidenced in “Tapestry,” where they’ll detour down the road not taken to Q’s great amusement. It’s a nice continuity tie-in, especially considering Doq’s reveal in Part 6.

Comic panel showing Picard and Doq, a young man with red hair and glasses. Text reads "Doqtis ilum. El-Aurian. Quiet, with an aptitude for science. A little annoying. A little obsessed with Jean-Luc. Closest thing to a friend."

Speaking of Doq, I think my favourite little miss-it-if-you’re-not-paying-attention moment is that he’s El-Aurian. Think about it.

And, of course, there’s Mr. Boothby. Now, there’s a character that quietly shapes the lives of more significant Federation stars than could ever be chronicled. His inclusion lends more credibility to this iteration of Starfleet Academy than Spock and the Romulans combined.

Then there’s the naming convention used for the six parts of the series, a clever if pretentious detail. Not only are they all given French titles – a tip of the hat to Picard’s hometown of La Barre, France, – but they all reference wolves.

In order, they are:

  • Part 1: Loup Solitaire (Lone Wolf)
  • Part 2: Hurler Avec Les Loups (Howling With the Wolves)
  • Part 3: Froid de Loup (Cold of the Wolf – a French idiom that roughly translates back to English as “bitterly cold”)
  • Part 4: Les Loups Ne Se Mangent Pas Entre Eux (Wolves Do Not Eat Their Own)
  • Part 5: Dans Le Gueule Du Loup (In the Mouth of the Wolf – another idiom that is used to mean the equivalent of being in “the belly of the beast” in English)
  • Part 6: Jeune Loup (Young Wolf)

The easy assumption is the wolf analogy is meant to hint at Wolf 359, but it’s a vague connection at best this early in Picard’s Starfleet career.

Looking at the titles (and setting aside the contrived wolf theme), they do accurately track Picard’s thaw from a driven, overachieving, tunnel-visioned loner, through his first pseudo-command and his crew’s subsequent coup, to a humbled cadet with leadership potential. But only if you read French. Or are motivated enough to Google Translate them.

Finally, there’s the oxymoronic nature of the lesson learned. In epically failing the “Evasive Maneuvers Exam,” the cadets prove their ability to work as a team. There’s not much more Trek than ripping some self-discovery and life lessons from a potentially catastrophic but actually carefully-orchestrated faceplant.

Some of the cadets from Picard's Academy, including Doq, K, Nir and Marty

Besides Marty and Doq, Reshan Dar figures most prominently in Picard’s ragtag entourage. As an academic rival who has no qualms about using his Betazoid powers in invasive and unethical ways, he’s clearly no fan of Jean-Luc although they manage to bury some of the animosity during the exam.

We learn only the most cursory details about Nirula and K’Ccyt. Assuming the series continues, it would be interesting to see if we see more depth to their characters.

The most innovative device here, in what could be dismissed on the surface as fanciful speculative canon meanderings, is the use of the mysterious omniscient narrator. Initially, their contributions could be mistaken (and I believe this is purposeful) for a future Picard’s hindsight observations.

Once their identity is revealed, however, it forces the close reader to re-read the maroon-inked captions from the beginning. And, honestly, I don’t hear them in the phrasing. Perhaps it would’ve been too much of a giveaway, but a true finesse would’ve let at least a hint of their voice seep through.

One element that I’ll admit was entertaining was the A.I. Romulan boarding party being trapped on the holodeck in a shopping centre program. However, it seems like overkill to give the simulated invaders a whole sidebar sitcom.

All in all, Picard’s Academy: Commit No Mistakes doesn’t err too badly in setting up an untried, inexperienced, and fallible Jean-Luc for a few years of social learning and personal growth alongside his Academy studies. There’s enough going on to warrant another visit in a few months, but one would hope for more meaningful adventures. Otherwise, they might just end up another gang of meddling kids foiling some scheme by unmasking a fake ghost.


Picard’s Academy: Commit No Mistakes is available for pre-order in paperback, to be released in July 2024. It will be available online or at your local retailer. The individual comics (Issues 1-6) are available now at your local retailer.

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