The fourth and final installment of the inaugural Star Trek: The Next Generation comic miniseries from Wildstorm, "Perchance To Dream," comes out this week. In addition to featuring the best cover art ever on Next Gen comics, the books feature an engrossing story that begins with Data feeling fear and panic, despite the lack of an emotion chip. Before the title page, the Enterprise has exploded! Turns out it's only a nightmare of Data's triggered by a chip containing dream subroutines, but of course it turns out to be prophetic about the next mission.
The Enterprise is approaching Damiano, a planet in an uproar because of the unconventional sexual mores of its new leader - who has only one mate rather than two, and has angered the moralists who insist on coupling in trios. This sounds both kinkier and more progressive than it looks on paper - there are very definite hes, shes, and its among the aliens. Picard hopes to foil an assassination plot, but a telepathic weapon affects the dreams of the crew, starting with Worf, who relives an accidental death he caused years before. The incident, which Worf confesses to Troi, does a better job of explaining Worf's behavior in the Deep Space Nine episode "Let He Who Is Without Sin" than did anything on that series.
Soon, the dreams become waking hallucinations, and it seems the mission will fail. Ultimately, Picard is selected to destroy the telepathic weapon, because it can't affect people with multiple personality disorder...and as the repositor of Sarek's memories, the recollections of Kamin, and the brain patterns of Locutus of Borg, he's the best candidate on the ship. Not too surprisingly, the good guys win, but there are some pretty neat twists in the end - Data's dream program goes berserk, and Picard must re-assimilate Locutus.
As for the art, it's somewhat better than the last series of Next Gen comics, though not as good as Malibu's Voyager series. The backgrounds are sharp and uncluttered, and the design uses overstepping characters to move the plot along. Data is probably the best-drawn regular, which is curious because he displays more emotion in this story than the character did on the series. Picard looks at least ten years too young, while Troi and Crusher would be unrecognizable but for the hair color; I had no idea who Deanna was the first time she appeared.
LaForge and Worf look fine, though it's a lot easier to distinguish a Klingon forehead and a visor than the characteristic facial expressions of an individual. The aliens look a little two-dimensional, but they're written interestingly enough that that's not really a drawback. The gender oddities of the Damiani aren't exploited, which is unfortunate in that there aren't clear parallels between the self-righteous green-skinned villains and their reactionary human counterparts, but it also means the reader isn't subjected to typical comic porn pairings of busty naked women with lusty androgynes.