Saturday, April 04, 2009

Star Trek Archives Volume 4: Best of Deep Space Nine

If you're like me -- and you probably aren't, but let's pretend -- you think that the first two seasons of Deep Space Nine are underrated. There was a lot to like in those pre-Dominion, pre-Worf, pre-Defiant days. There was tension between the Federation and the Bajorans, the Cardassians kept hovering in the background, and the Gamma Quadrant was a place of mystery. No one knew who or what might come through the wormhole.

That's the Deep Space Nine we see in the new IDW reprint collection, Star Trek Archives Volume 4: Best of Deep Space Nine. It's not really a "best of" compilation; it's the first five issues of the comic from 1993 plus a short story included in an "ashcan" preview edition.

Written by Trek comics veteran Mike W. Barr, the early comics alternated between single-issue and two-issue stories.Like the show, the comics make use of the ensemble cast, and all of the regulars make appearances in this volume. Barr captures the characters' voices and personalities well, no small feat given the brevity of the stories. The stories also feel like the kind of stories we got early on in DS9. The opening two-parter, "Stowaway," deals with a threat to the station accidentally unleashed by Jake and Nog; the single issue story "Old Wounds" involves an old Cardassian general's visit to the station and becomes a murder mystery; the two-parter "Emancipation" echoes elements of "Captive Pursuit" and "Sanctuary," as a shipload of slaves from the Gamma Quadrant flees their owners and seeks freedom in Federation space. The stories may not have the kind of depth longer stories can offer, but they get the feel right, and the art isn't bad.

I'm a big DS9 fan, and I'm glad IDW is reprinting at least a few issues of the DS9 comics. Malibu never published any trade paperback reprint collections, and the UK Boxtree collections weren't widely distributed (if at all) in North America, though of course these comics are included in last year's DVD-ROM collection of Star Trek comics. I'd like to see IDW do more DS9 collections, and for that matter I'd like to see them get the license to publish new DS9 comics. If coordinating developments with the Pocket DS9 relaunch is problematic, there's no reason they couldn't do stories set during the TV series. The more DS9 the better.


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