Embrace the Wolf

by Michelle Erica Green

Wildstorm's glossy 48-page Next Generation one-shot comic brings back malevolent energy being Redjac, last seen in the form of Mr. Hengist in the original series episode "Wolf in the Fold" (written by sci-fi and horror luminary Robert Bloch). Writers Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski use the clever gimmick of letting Jack the Ripper do his stuff on the Enterprise holodeck - with Data playing Sherlock Holmes in the Victorian scenario.

In one of many nods to "Wolf in the Fold," Redjac names his period slaughterhouse "Montgomery & Sons" in honor of Mr. Scott, whose involvement enabled Kirk's crew to disperse Redjac into deep space. Unfortunately for the galaxy, as Golden and Sniegoski hypothesize, Redjac was able to coalesce again. The being devastated the peaceful planet Enoch-7 before Picard's crew arrived. Now Redjac is ready to find new prey...and the Enochians are willing to do whatever is necessary to stop the creature, even if it means destroying the starship that could allow it to travel.

What follows is a comic which does "Wolf in the Fold" proud, though anyone who resented the specifically female-targeted terror of the original episode probably won't be thrilled with the damsels in distress. It's not Beverly Crusher's fault that she becomes the catalyst for Redjac's arrival on the ship. She's just trying to help a patient when the being takes over her body, then enters the ship's computer. Nor is it Deanna Troi's fault that she's more sensitive to the emotions of the crew than most, making her fear a natural target for Redjac. But it's a shame that neither woman has much to do in the conquest of the creature, which is accomplished through Data's logic, Picard's level-headedness, Worf's Klingon strength, and LaForge's engineering skills.

Riker mostly stands around looking fierce, but he also saves the Enterprise bridge while most of the command crew is on the holodeck. Dave Hoover's pencils, some of which are reproduced at the back of the comic, appear to be excellent. Unfortunately a lot of the detail is lost under the inks and colors, but I still prefer the illustrations to those in the recent four-parter Perchance To Dream. Troi and Crusher in particular are much more recognizable, though their facial expressions lack subtlety.

Once again, ironically, it is Data and LaForge - the two least demonstrative characters - who receive the most nuanced illustrations. The android's posture, even while playing Holmes and smoking a pipe, is unmistakable. The holodeck backgrounds are beautifully drawn, more evocative of a ghost story than the Argelian setting of "Wolf in the Fold." While I'm a little sorry this story wasn't conceived as a Pocket Books novel because I'd have liked more detail and more crew reaction, it's worth owning for the art.

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