Trill Face Terrorism From the Unjoined
Wildstorm's latest comic miniseries, a Next Generation - Deep Space Nine four-part crossover, addresses questions that seem obvious in retrospect: how come nearly all the Trill we've seen have been joined, and how does the rest of Trill society feel about the apparent privileges given to those with symbionts? To answer, writers John J. Ordover and David Mack bring back many of the Trill we've met on the two series...including Dax's former wife Lenara Kahn, Beverly's onetime lover Kareel Odan, and Jadzia's attempted murderer Verad.
When Verad stole the Dax symbiont during the DS9 episode "Invasive Procedures," he was driven by jealousy of the joined Trill, who dominate the highest positions of their planet's social system. Now Verad is a member of a faction that claims the symbionts are alien to Trill and have insidiously taken it over by empowering only those individuals joined with them. Think of the worm-eating aliens from Next Gen's "Conspiracy," which gave victims physical strength but controlled their minds, and this idea won't seem so ludicrous; in fact, it seems almost logical, which might make the terrorists a bit sympathetic if their actions weren't so horrific.
In the opening pages of Divided We Fall, the "Purists" destroy Ambassador Odan's ship and kidnap Lenara Kahn. While the Enterprise rescues a dying Odan and Troi attempts to communicate with the symbiont, the terrorists use Lenara as bait to lure Ezri Dax to Trill. These storylines parallel one another nicely before they merge. As Dax tries to sort out the romantic frustrations of several lifetimes, Troi worries about her uneven history with Will Riker; her contact with the symbiont reminds all of them of the passionate interlude Riker shared with Beverly Crusher when he briefly hosted Odan many years earlier.
The relationships greatly enrich the action-packed story of the first issue, which includes a space battle, two abductions, two rescue missions, and a violent conflict planetside. Ezri and Julian's interior monologues exploring their feelings for one another overlap reconaissance scenes on Trill. Troi's evanescent internal struggle plays out in words as she sits on the Enterprise while readers watch a phaser battle on the planet nearby. Ezri would seem to be the key player in all these events, since she's a joined Trill who didn't choose that destiny for herself; she may be one person to whom the Purists will listen, for she has no stake in defending the Symbiosis Commission. The young Trill Perim from Insurrection is placed prominently on the Enterprise bridge, so one suspects she will have a role in upcoming events -- perhaps as an emergency host for Odan, or perhaps as a secret agent of the bad guys.
The crossover occurs seamlessly, for the Defiant is already headed to Trill when the Enterprise rescues Odan. Picard then contacts Commander Vaughn (one of the new DS9 characters introduced by Pocket Books recently in Avatar), though his warning about the terrorists may come too late to save Dax. The Next Gen Trill have been drawn to resemble the DS9 variety, without head ridges -- a break with continuity that nonetheless creates a stronger sense of connection between the series. The writers also make reference to the fact that Next Gen's Trill could not use transporters but Jadzia Dax could; apparently they assume that the transport process must have been adapted after the events of "The Host" to accommodate the symbionts.
Divided We Fall unfolds with superb artwork -- a great improvement on Wildstorm's previous Deep Space Nine miniseries, N-Vector, in which many of the regular characters were barely recognizable. Those who enjoy seeing the female form in all its curvaceous glory will be pleased to note that this comic features Ezri in pyjamas, Kira's catsuit-clad derriere sharing a panel with Ro in a tank top, and a hallucinating Troi in the buff. Still, penciller Andrew Currie does his best work recreating the visages of Picard and Bashir.
The first issue of Divided We Fall ends with three popular Trill characters facing death while two romances face obstacles from both past and present. It's a compelling scenario, making good use of the Enterprise crew and offering readers the chance to visualize the new DS9 crew in action. "No Quarter" maintains the excellence of the first book in the series. This is a crossover in the best sense -- not just the crews from two series working together, but strong parallels between their lives and unique opportunities for cooperation. Nog actually solves a technical conundrum before Data does. Troi and Crusher discuss the pain of their romantic bonds with Riker and Odan while in the panels, Bashir fights to save Ezri from Verad. The story offers both intense character drama and fast-paced action sequences, seamlessly intertwined.
The artwork is the best yet in a Deep Space Nine comic, and for a change Wildstorm has spread the advertising out so that the story flows smoothly. Fans of the DS9 relaunch novels Avatar and Abyss will be pleased to see Shar, Vaughn, and some of the other faces from the Deep Space Nine relaunch (though Vaughn's resemblance to Sean Connery doesn't do anything to endear him to me!). It's remarkable how much plot gets covered in the brief pages of "No Quarter," and the female characters in particular really shine.
Divided We Fall comes to a triumphant end in the fourth issue, "United We Stand." Verad lies dead at his own hand, but his deadly plague will soon wipe out all joined Trill. The only way Beverly Crusher can stop it is to take on the knowledge of her one-time lover Odan...by becoming Odan, accepting the symbiont into her own body. Once joined, she uses the data obtained by Kareel to synthesize an antidote. Meanwhile, Picard on the Enterprise and Vaughn on the Defiant must risk the lives of their crew to save the people of Trill, joined and unjoined.
As in the previous issues, Ordover and Mack do a wonderful job juggling four separate storylines that all feed into the same central crisis. "United We Stand" seems more visually violent than the others, but that may be because most of the action takes place in the moment, rather than during flashbacks or as a backdrop for introspective dialogue. In the end, Divided We Fall is as much a love story (or a series of them) as the story of an insurrection that nearly destroys a species. The character work is as memorable as the drama. With clear, attractive artwork and pacing like a television episode, this is an example of the comics medium at its finest.
Next up for Wildstorm Comics: a hardcover anthology of three previous Trek miniseries. Pocket promises the rest of the Gateways books, more Deep Space Nine relaunch titles and several highly-anticipated hardcover sequels like the third Genesis Wave and second Eugenics Wars books. With a new TV series less than a season away and another film in pre-production, there's certain to be an explosion of new Trek in the near future.
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