Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Manga
written by David Gerrold, Diane Duane, Christine Boylan and F.J. DeSanto
illustrated by E.J. Su, Chrissy Delk, Don Hudson and Bettina Kurkoski
Changeling (story by David Gerrold, art by E.J. Su): Wesley Crusher is about to embark on his first mission as an Ensign: accompany an away team on their journey to the center of the Labyrinth of Wisdom. Wesley, perhaps a little too eager to prove himself, rushes in and steps on a pedestal that turns him into someone resembling and thinking like Geordi. Realizing that there's no way to turn back into his good old self, Wesley continues his journey into the labyrinth, changing several times to take on both physical and mental attributes of his teammates. Things should get pretty interesting with Troi around.
Gerrold, the writer behind the classic Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles,” really disappoints with this story. A boy must walk a path, changing several times before he can become a man. The story becomes very predictable and lacks the drama one would expect from Next Generation. The artwork is simplistic, making this story feel as though it’s geared toward children. Thankfully, the rest of this book gets better.
Sensation (story by Diane Duane, art by Chrissy Delk): The Enterprise responds to a distress call from an archaeological dig on Lamda Scorpii IV. One by one, the workers are starting to lose their minds, suffering from panic attacks so powerful it leaves them in comas. Dr. Crusher and Troi head down to the planet in an attempt to figure out the source of the paranoia, a mystery that seems to defy the laws of medicine.
Sensation has the feel of an authentic Next Generation episode. Someone is in danger, send in a team, the danger gets more complicated and starts taking out the crew, then one particular Enterprise member must solve the mystery to save everyone. Duane does a nice job of setting up a mystery that feels impossible to solve. It’s not until one character looks at it from a different angle that the pieces start to fit into place. The art style has a very modern, comic book look to it, yet all the characters are represented accurately.
The Picardian Knot (story by Christine Boylan, art by Don Hudson): Picard loses his capacity to feel emotion when a Romulan suddenly beams himself aboard and threatens Picard’s life. Disturbed by his abrupt personality change, Troi encourages the crew to share how they feel, but the only thing that seems to get through to him is a small puzzle box his attacker left behind on the bridge.
Boylan has certainly captured the humor found in the Next Generation series, granting the reader a few much-needed comedic exchanges between Picard and some of his crew. There's nothing like watching Worf attempt to discuss his emotions for a good giggle. The overall story seems too simple to replace a full episode and comes close to sufficing for a short story. However, there are a few details that bring it down. Some of the dialogue bubbles are placed in awkward positions; but more importantly, the crew claims that the Romulan attacker had a mind meld with Picard, yet there is no visual indication of that ever happening. There’s no way for the reader to know that without the crew explicitly saying so within the dialogue.
Loyalty (story by F.J. DeSanto, art by Bettina Kurkoski): Following Picard's capture and escape from the Borg, Starfleet is concerned if the captain is mentally fit for duty. They secretly call in Commander Riker to interrogate him about Picard's mental and emotional state. How Riker handles the meeting will affect his very own career.
Every now and then, there's a missing story that’s just waiting to be told. Loyalty is that story. The writing is solid with a true Next Generation feel to it. This isn’t an action story. Loyalty is more about emotional strength and standing up for what you believe in. It has a good moral, strong emotional conflict, and ties in very well to the television series’ main storyline.
Overall, Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Manga isn’t a bad read. Changing the order of stories might have left a better impression. It starts off weak but gets stronger as it goes instead of starting and ending with the best works. This book is clearly for the Next Generation fan. There is no introduction to the universe or the characters, so there is no way for new readers to discover the series by this method. It is not ideal for a library, but makes for a decent and affordable gift for any fan.