15 August 2016

Review: Star Trek: Alien Spotlight, Volume 2 by Keith R.A. DeCandido, Scott & David Tipton, Stuart Moore, J. K. Woodward, Elena Casagrande, et al.

Comic trade paperback, 122 pages
Published 2010 (contents: 2009)
Acquired July 2012
Read May 2016
Star Trek: Alien Spotlight, Volume 2

Written by Arne Schmidt and Andy Schmidt, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Scott Tipton and David Tipton, Ian Edginton, Stuart Moore
Art by Agustin Padilla, J. K. Woodward, Elena Casagrande, Wagner Reis, Mike Hawthorne
Color by James Brown, J. K. Woodward, Ilaria Traversi, Priscilla Ribeiro, Mike Hawthorne
Letters by Robbie Robbins, Neil Uyetake, Richard Starkings

The first Star Trek: Alien Spotlight collection was a decent set of comics, more notable for its enjoyable variety than the quality of its individual tales (except for John Byrne's excellent Romulan story). The second one is similar, but I'd say it has more hits. The best is clearly, and oddly, the Tribbles story by Stuart Moore and Mike Hawthorne: a Federation cargo ship is forced down on an alien planet by Klingons (the story takes place in the runup to "Errand of Mercy") and receives some unexpected assistance from the mysterious creatures that have displaced the planet's original inhabitants. It's cute and fun.

Tribbles are actually pretty insidious if you think about it.
from Star Trek: Alien Spotlight: Tribbles (script by Stuart Moore, art by Mike Hawthorne)

Most of the other tales aren't really notable either way. One can't argue that Keith R.A. DeCandido doesn't get Klingons, for example, but I didn't find his and J. K. Woodward's tale of Kang recounting three different perspectives on his observation that "four thousand throats may be but in a single night by a running man" particularly impactful. The Q tale by the Tipton brothers and Elena Casagrande has an interesting premise, but (like most Tipton tales) is too slight: Q decides to live as Picard for a day to prove he can do better. I would love to have seen this on screen; one can imagine John De Lancie relishing the part of Picard, and Patrick Stewart as the disembodied voice heckling Q the whole time would be great. There are a number of good moments, but the Enterprise-E mission this all interrupts is simplistic at best, and there's not enough space to explore all the possibilities of this set-up. Ian Edginton and Wagner Reis's Romulan story is all right. Like John Byrne's tale from the previous volume, it's a prequel to "Balance of Terror"-- in fact, it's a prequel to Byrne's prequel! But Reis is no Byrne when it comes to art or character, and the politics are a little too simple. Okay, but it suffers by comparison.

Disembodied advice head Picard is the snarkiest.
from Star Trek: Alien Spotlight: Q (script by Scott Tipton & David Tipton, art by Elena Casagrande)

The only outright bad story is the Cardassian one, by the Schmidt brothers and Agustin Padilla. Padilla is not very good at drawing Cardassians that look differently from one another, even though one of them is half-Bajoran, and one of them is Garak! This makes the story basically impossible to follow, but I suspect there's not much to it, anyway, and it seems odd to make a part-Bajoran Cardassian-hater the central character of your story that's ostensibly about Cardassians.

Thank God someone said Garak's name, because there's no way I ever would have guessed that was meant to be Andy Robinson.
from Star Trek: Alien Spotlight: Cardassians (script by Arne Schmidt & Andy Schmidt, art by Agustin Padilla)

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