2000 Voyager Comics

by Michelle Erica Green

Star Trek Voyager: False Colors
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force
Star Trek Voyager: Avalon Rising

Star Trek Voyager: False Colors

The first Wildstorm Voyager comic, "False Colors," worships Seven of Nine from every angle, with her enormous breasts dominating every panel she's in. Then again, I've gotten so used to women in comic books having ridiculous proportions that it bothers me less here than onscreen. Ironically, Janeway - who looks nothing like Kate Mulgrew -comes across dominant, and much prettier than her Borg protegee.

The story struck me as very shallow on a character level but entertaining as an action tale. For instance, I cannot see Chakotay blithely putting on fake Borg prosthetics and joking about covering up his tattoo with an eyepiece, not after what the ex-Borg in "Unity" did to him, but then again that's something the writers on the show would do without thinking twice.

I preferred the artwork in Malibu's comics, but the glossy paper and vivid color provided by Wildstorm are a nice change. I wouldn't recognize this Chakotay or Paris if I fell over them in the street, but they're no worse than the TNG characters in Wildstorm's initial TNG offering, "Perchance To Dream." I suppose I will be buying the next issues.

Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force

Wildstorm's summer Voyager comic, based on the Activision-Raven Software game Elite Force, features pencils and inks by Jeffrey Moy and W.C. Carani respectively - the same pair that did False Colors, the first Wildstorm Star Trek Voyager comic. It features the same glossy, pretty style, which I must admit has grown on me greatly after the duller Classic Trek and downright ugly Deep Space Nine artwork of the new Wildstorm series.

I haven't seen Elite Force in its demo form, which is currently the only one available, but if the events of this comic accurately represent the situations in the game, I think I'd like to play. The comic introduces several non-bridge Voyager crewmembers, most of whom are more interesting than the lower decks officers from last season's "Good Shepherd" - no compelling new females, but since Janeway and Seven of Nine are well written, that's not a problem. A hazard team, put together by Seven and trained by Tuvok, must put intense combat training to use against the Borg and other deadly enemies, with Voyager's safety as its main priority. . .more so than the lives of the team's members.

The central characters are hotshot Tom Paris clone Beissman, introspective young crewman Munro, and clever, competent Lieutenant Foster (who gets assimilated in the first quarter of the comic). Munro suffers a crisis in a holodeck simulation when he is called upon to execute former crewmates turned into Borg drones; that no-win scenario recurs as Voyager deflects a Borg attack, only to encounter an even deadlier threat. Other characters include field medic Murphy and wisecracking Chang, plus Chell, the Bolian Maquis crewmember from first season lower-decks episode "Learning Curve."

There is one extremely silly deus ex machina event to throw the ship into danger, plus conveniently telepathic aliens, and some very silly behavior on the part of the Borg, but that's become standard on Voyager - maybe they've assimilated too many irrational humans. Overall, the story is compelling in its own right - it's not immediately obvious which of the events are jumping-off points for the game.

This is an undeniably attractive book. Even the hideous oozing bug-like villains look good. As in False Colors, Janeway appears stunningly girlish and fresh-faced through every disaster. Also as in False Colors, Seven of Nine's body gets worshipped via both artwork and dialogue, yet she's not as pretty as the captain. (I've heard that Kate Mulgrew, who has in her contract the right to approve likenesses of herself as Janeway, only accepts images that make her look sleek and smiling even during crises; perhaps this explains why Janeway is nearly as tall and sexier than Seven in the illustrations.)

Janeway doesn't dominate the storyline in Elite Force, but she comes across strong and smart, knowing when to delegate and when to step in. Few of the other regular crew members have much to do since the hazard team dominates the storyline, but the drama makes good use of Tuvok, who was seen training Maquis in "Learning Curve" yet seldom appears in a teaching role on the show. Seven is engaged in the crisis (and wearing a Starfleet hazard uniform, a great improvement on the catsuit), but she neither saves the ship nor interferes, which is a welcome use of the character.

The layout makes use of two-page spreads, close-up circles in the midst of larger panels, and an excellent balance of exterior and interior illustrations of the ships. The backgrounds aren't that much more complicated than those in Deep Space Nine's N-Vector, but Elite Force just goes to show how much difference a little detail can make. A few lines on the floor and some moderate variation in color on the walls makes the ship seem familiar, rather than half-finished as in the DS9 series.

Of the Wildstorm comics, this one is my favorite in terms of visuals, plus it tells a good story and gets readers interested in the Activision game. Thus Elite Force is a success on all levels.

Star Trek Voyager: Avalon Rising

How do I love this comic? Let me count the ways...

Avalon Rising begins with the noble Janeway, Warrior Princess, carrying her trusted sword and wearing the cloak of Starfleet, in battle against the outlaw Chakotay. After defeating him in single combat, she offers his band of renegades a truce if they will join her - not as serfs and cowherds, but as equals. At the conclusion of this tale, the storyteller pictures the beautiful long-haired queen and the handsome outlaw with the scar over his eye fading into the firelight...

And then, just when the romantic in me is sighing blissfully, the bard embarks upon another tale. In this one, a squire named Weylyn encounters a powerful wizard who needs to travel to the mysterious Blind Tower in order to contact his distant ship. As the squire escorts him to the court, the wizard complains, "I'm a Doctor, not a crusader!" but he entertains Weylyn with tales about the criminal Paris who became a sailor, the were-woman Torres who became a shipwright, the ice maiden freed from an evil spell, and the rest of the noble Janeway's motley crew.

Of course, the Doctor is really on an away mission, trying to shut down the technology left in the tower by a powerful race that died out decades earlier. Captain Janeway intercepted a message from the dying leader of that species, explaining that their hidden weapons will destroy the peaceful feudal society on the planet unless someone intervenes. Despite Prime Directive qualms, she agrees, not knowing that squires like Weylyn are victims to the brutal knights because they don't dare challenge the dictum that might makes right.

There's no question that the premise will be too goofy for some readers...not to mention the drawings of Janeway in Lady Pendragon's clothes, and the Doctor wearing a crown with a Starfleet emblem. But if sword and sorcery epics hold any appeal, Avalon Rising is pure delight. The artwork by David Roach is stunning - lush forests on the planet, a dragon, a castle, a battle in space. There's even a typical comic harem, but it works in context like the Dabo girls on Deep Space Nine.

Best of all are the images of Voyager as a sailing ship - with Paris at the helm, Kim using an astrolabe, Torres adjusting the sails, and Janeway looking over the prow with her hands on her hips. It's Voyager as archetypal quest narrative, with images that capture the breathtaking idealism of Starfleet's mission of exploration. Writers Janine Ellen Young and Doselle Young portray the characters at their most heroic, keeping the Doctor's trademark sense of humor and the captain's penchant for waxing poetic about the integrity of Starfleet. This is what the episode "Muse" could have been if the show's writers had imaginations as broad as Young and Young.

Avalon Rising was clearly put together by people who love the romance underlying the series, even if it's been all but forgotten on the television show. I admit I'm a sucker for Janeway with long hair and great fencing skills, yet in her ordinary incarnation, she's still a shining example of what a Star Trek captain should be. This comic is nostalgic on two levels: for the sort of fantasy incorporated into old episodes like "Shore Leave" and "Spectre of the Gun," and for the idea of Voyager as a series about exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new civilizations, boldly going where no one has gone before.

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