Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken, IDW’s latest Star Trek comic miniseries takes on the challenge of bridging the Mirror Universe gap between TOS and DS9. How far did Mirror Spock’s reforms go? How did the Terran Empire fall to the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance? How big were Mirror Picard’s guns? (Massive, it turns out.)
Issue #0 (a big Free Comic Book Day highlight) and Issue #1 tackle these questions and more. With writing by Scott Tipton and David Tipton, and dark, dramatic art by J.K. Woodward, Mirror Broken builds a vivid, compelling interpretation of the TNG Mirror Universe.
#0 is told from Barclay’s point of view and gives background for the miniseries. Sick of toiling in Engineering on the I.S.S. Stargazer, and being bullied by his crewmates, Barclay is ready to make a bold move to seize power. He narrates his day on the ship and introduces us to the “spineless” Captain Picard and Troi, his “mindwitch.”
Troi is cast as the “Captain’s Woman” in this iteration of the Mirror Universe – a “femme fatale” who wears flowing, revealing dresses with accessories like collars, cuffs and chains that mark her as a possession of the Captain. Initially I found this really uncomfortable, especially, for some reason, seeing Picard’s hand on Troi’s thigh. My reaction might have just been the cognitive dissonance of a Picard/Crusher shipper, or the disappointment that Spock’s reforms didn’t include an end to “Captain’s Women” positions in the Terran Empire…but I’ll return to Troi a bit later.
In #0 we also meet Data, who was rescued from a life of slavery in the “Soong Mines” by Picard and is now obsessed with enhancing himself with Borg technology.
Ultimately Barclay decides who he needs to take out in order to take a step up the chain of command: the sadistic Security Chief Yar.
I have to admit it was a little disappointing to see the most powerful woman on the ship killed off so quickly. The writers explain this decision in their notes: “We also liked the idea…that some things, some people’s fates, remained static between the universes, and accordingly that led us to the notion that Tasha Yar was fated to have a career cut short no matter which reality she was in.” I can certainly see the appeal of that idea, although DS9 rarely followed it.
Issue #1 begins with a brooding Picard (whose biceps appear to be approximately the size of his head). He’s frustrated with commanding the Stargazer and crafts a plot to steal the Empire’s new ship, the I.S.S. Enterprise.
Troi is again at Picard’s side but I was relieved that she seemed to have some power and recognized abilities beyond the “Captain’s Woman” that we see in “Mirror, Mirror.” Here, Troi takes over the Captain’s chair when Picard is unavailable, and she clearly unnerves the officers under her.
The writers gave us warning in their notes that we won’t be meeting all the characters at once. Issue #0 gave us Picard, Data, Troi, Yar and Barclay. #1 adds Geordi, an underappreciated engineer on the Enterprise, who’s willing to sell out the project in exchange for power. His VISOR has been replaced by streamlined goggles.
At the end of #1 we still haven’t met Riker or Beverly Crusher. With Yar gone I’m hopeful that when we do meet Crusher, she will provide a contrast to Troi, showing a woman in the Mirror Universe who doesn’t need to rely on a man for her power. I’m also hopeful we’ll see a bit more fun injected in the coming issues. Many of the Mirror Universe episodes explored comedic elements of the story – the humor in seeing familiar characters behave so differently, or prime universe characters attempting to masquerade as their mirror counterparts. So far, that hasn’t come through for me in Mirror Broken and I’m feeling like it might be time for some comic relief.
It’s worth noting that a few of the Star Trek novels have attempted to cover the TNG Mirror Universe before, notably Diane Duane’s Dark Mirror, which we covered in our Book Club episode with Duane. In Duane’s TNG Mirror Universe, Crusher is the “Captain’s Woman” and Troi is much more powerful: the Security Chief who uses her empathic abilities to enhance her interrogations. Yar is again absent. It will be interesting to see how the stories compare as Mirror Broken continues.
For more on the Mirror Universe, check out our podcast Episode 55: Ripped and Machiavellian, and this blog post by Elly Frances on “The Evil Aesthetic of the Mirror Universe.”
I’m really excited to see the rest of the series, especially as I’m doing my own mirror universe fanfic. In mine, the ship ends up with an all female senior command after the captain is assassinated. The former captain’s woman was the one who actually did it and she let him know what she thought of him too (a terrified and nervous junior officer half his age whose brother was framed for treachery) and the new captain makes her chief of security. There’s plenty of comic relief in it as well. I’m aiming to put in humour about working in a female dominated environment as I do work in one.