Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ranking the Deep Space Nine comics

Deep Space Nine was always my favourite Trek flavour, but even as a fan, it took a long time for me to bother cracking open the station's continuing adventures in novel form. I don't know what I was expecting from licensed fan fiction, but they were only alright.

I'm not similarly deluded about the wonders that might await in DS9 comics written (mostly) while the series was still on the air under a strict non-interference directive. But it's something to do, innit? These decades won't waste themselves.

Key-ra Nerys:

Malibu Comics (1993-95)

Marvel Comics (1996-98)
WildStorm Comics (2000)
IDW Publishing (2009-10)

54. Hostage Situation (#0)

Malibu showcases what their new series is capable of with this brief, limited edition, godawful preview. I'm already regretting it.

Trek comics veteran Mike W. Barr annoys nerds in the very first panel by getting the stardate out by three years (the system's not difficult). It's strange that a DS9 preview story focuses on Klingons, when Cardassians would have been more appropriate. Why does it have watercolour art that's not representative of the comic series at all? Strange decisions all round.

53. Memoirs of an Invisible Ferengi / A Tree Grows on Bajor (The Maquis #1-2)

Evidently, the Maquis mini-series was slightly too long to fit into two issues, but not long enough for three. I suppose these two back-up strips are marginally better than filling the surplus pages with adverts.

The second, in which Jake remembers a conversation with his late mother and cries, isn't the worst story they've ever done. The first, in which Quark goes invisible and gets into various scrapes, is.

52. A Short Fuse (#11)

How are these allowed to be this bad? I suppose even the TV series had one or two annual embarrassments, but this is increasingly becoming the norm.

The existence of the "young adult" (i.e. too immature for me even at primary school) DS9 novels shows that they thought there was an audience for childish Jake & Nog japes, but they don't fit comfortably into a comic series that's mainly been trying to mimic the TV show.

51. Baby on Board (#12)

They have to stop letting Charles Marshall write these, or at least sit him down in front of some episodes and inform him he's not writing for the funny papers. With a miniseries being published at the same time, there clearly wasn't enough talent to go around.

The TV series had some comedy misfires in its time, mainly involving the Ferengi or Lwaxana Troi, but nothing as farcical as the cast playing hot potato with an abandoned baby to keep it out of sight of the snooping Federation Inspector.

50. Mudd's Pets (#26-27)

In what threatened to be a permanent format change but was thankfully limited to these two issues, the main story is supplemented by a distinctly childish one in which a descendant of Harry Mudd brings some not-Tribbles onto the station and hi-jinks ensue.

To the comic's credit, they seem to have learned their lesson that this sort of thing isn't going to go down well with everyone, so it's shoved to the back and doesn't even get a mention on either of the covers.

49. Field Trip / Pickpocket / Program 359 (#6)

Dependable Mike W. Barr disappointingly bows out a third of the way through this issue of three scattered shorts, leaving the future of the series in peril. The fact that his lightweight tale about a science trip gone awry is the best of the three doesn't bode well.

Children's Trek book author John Vornholt contributes a pathetic story about Bashir & Quark teaming up to solve crime, while Colin Clayton & Chris Dows bring the Borg gratuity in a story that wants to be meaningful but only insults the reader's intelligence.

48. Working Vacation (#7)

As feared, the unambitious adequacy of the early run has deteriorated to something worse now that the old writer's gone. The good news is that Len Strazewski didn't write any more after this.

He gets Kira's PTSD and justified prejudice as much as anyone who's watched pretty much any episode, but beyond that, this doesn't feel like DS9. With its patronising moral and childish plotting, it's more like the junior back half of Sonic the Comic. Was it only two issues ago we were dealing with reluctant emancipation and suicide bombers and the characters were recognisable as the characters?

47. Hearts of Old / War Games (#18)

Of these two stories, the four-page back-up bumper is the more interesting, for offering an unofficial prelude to the first scene of the soon-to-broadcast Star Trek: Voyager. Insubstantial and uninteresting, but a curio all the same.

The main story is a weak romantic angst plot for Dax that gets Trills wrong.

46. Descendants (#10)

We're burning through writers at an alarming rate, but it looks like newcomer Dan Mishkin's here to stay as the dominant creative force behind the series. Based on this stinky debut about evil space dragons, that doesn't bode well.

There are references that prove he's watched some Star Trek episodes, but no evidence yet that he knows how to write them.

45. The Warrior (Star Trek Unlimited #8)

After Marvel's DS9 series folded, the brand had one last outing as one of several stories in this random issue of this random comic line.

I say 'DS9,' but it only features Worf, who happens to be in the DS9 part of his timeline. That's fine. Story's not.

44. When the Stars Come A-Calling (Star Trek Special)

'Far Beyond the Stars' is one of the greatest Star Trek episodes of any iteration, and I always like to see it popping up in the expanded universe now and then. Unfortunately, not only is this brief tribute to the world and work of Benny Russell uneventfully brief, it even contradicts the episode. Nor does it know the difference between a pulp magazine and pulp comic book.

Considering this was the last DS9 comic story published for many years, it was quite the disappointing waste of this special's DS9 slot.

43. Last Remains (#20)

This technobabble tale is totally out of place in Deep Space Nine, except that it's about the wormhole. Dan Mishkin's been at the Star Trek Encyclopedia or some other po-faced reference work and is showing off his knowledge of Romulan propulsion systems, and we have to deal with it.

There's action and explosions as a couple of people we've never met before die and the station shakes a lot, but that's not enough to keep it from being boring.

42. Enemies & Allies (#29-30)

Predating that Enterprise two-parter by a decade, we get a story set entirely in the Mirror Universe in which none of our displaced regulars show up. Instead, we're party to a bold and reckless mission carried out by the alternate Bashir and Tuvok, for the same reasons Tuvok gratuitously showed up in that DS9 episode: Voyager was new and crossovers are a cheap thrill.

Unusually for the B-canon, this story threatens a change in the status quo that was presumably made on the assumption that DS9 wouldn't bother to revisit the Mirror Universe again. Unfortunately, they did.

41. Lapse (#13)

It's Charles Marshall's last story, thank the Prophets. While it's still not exactly good, it's at least the sort of sub-par thing you'd expect from a Star Trek comic, rather than the complete dregs of the previous couple of issues.

A flu shot sends Odo on a berserk, fortunately non-lethal rampage. Having to hunt him down through the station thematically foreshadows the coming Changeling threat without knowing it.

40. Telepathy War, Parts 2-4 (Command Decisions / Day of Honor / Heart of Darkness, #12-13 & Star Trek: Unlimited #6)

Even Martin & Mangels couldn't salvage this messy crossover, which shoves original characters from Marvel's Starfleet Academy series in your face along with customarily uninspired TNG cameos.

Even when it remembers to be a DS9 comic, the slow turnaround of these publications has never been more apparent and annoying. This was seemingly written in the gap between seasons, but since the writers didn't know how that game-changing cliffhanger was going to be resolved, they had no choice but to set their story earlier, and weirdly offer a sort of alternate take on 'Call to Arms' as a result that doesn't really fit in or make sense. But neither do all the stupid crossover elements, so I'll just write it off as Worf's dream or something.

39. Alien Spotlight: Cardassians

I'm not even sure what's going on with this one. A post-finale story that doesn't seem to fit in with the Relaunch continuity, nor the series finale, even.

I don't know. The Schmidt brothers wanted to write an incomplete story about Cardassians, I guess.

38. Genesis Denied (#26-27)

I get the feeling that DS9 wasn't the first Trek of choice for Chris Dows' and Colin Clayton's generic Roddenberryesque tale of futile, self-destructive war among aliens that turn out to be not so different, he and he. One of the races involved is Cardassians, but that's easily found-and-replaced with Romulans or any other species capable of producing shouty antagonists.

It's got a really big spaceship in it, which is cool when you're 11 I guess.

37. Dax's Comet (#14-15)

Jerry Bingham's only contribution to the series, this sensationalised story of a Bajoran armageddon cult is mainly notable for being a bit similar to the upcoming episode 'Destiny,' which wouldn't even be filmed (even written?) for a few months.

But while that episode hung vague, Nostradamus-esque prophecies off the approaching comet that ended up coming ambiguously true and gently advanced the series' Emissary arc, this is just a dumb comic book story with a shouty villain and shoot-outs. The art's cruder than usual too.

36. The Cancer Within (#3-4)

Your standard deadly plague crisis and nick-of-time cure story is only made slightly more interesting by the random inclusion of Dr. Pulaski and the germ of the comic's own shadowy, self-contained plot arc.

The fact that it's another dull Maquis story doesn't do it any favours, nor does the overly dramatic Marvel styling of the whole thing. I've already decided Malibu was better, and that's not setting the bar very high.

35. Public Enemies, Private Lives (#8-9)

The often-tedious threat of the Maquis had thankfully been put to rest in the TV series by this point, but the comics are still conspicuously far behind – about six months, based on the new uniforms finally making their debut. I can't imagine comic-book-reading Trekkies having a problem with minor things like that.

The vacationing crew happening to stumble upon a clandestine Maquis-Romulan meeting in the exact patch of jungle planet they happened to beam down on at that specific time is such a stupid set-up, you'd be forgiven for not persevering. I wouldn't say it's worth it, but there are appearances from Cal Hudson and Tomalak if you appreciate continuity for its own sake.

34. Deep Space Mine (#22)

Another fairly daft story, at least it was quite fun this time. Negotiations over a doomsday weapon result in the implausible decisions to pretend Quark's running the station and reduce the Starfleet officers to bar staff.

Grand Nagus Zek's in it too, but he's not funny, and not only because you can't hear Wallace Shawn's voice.

33. Remembrance / Rules of Behavior (#31)

Another bumper issue, for no apparent reason this time, in which the poor supplementary story and random reference pages only serve to drag down the main story.

Leonard Kirk wrote and drew a sequel to 'Blood Oath' incorporating Toral, a few months before DS9 would do the same thing, and it's not bad. The second story is a brief sequel to an uninteresting Trill story from earlier in the comic's run that doesn't even seem to make sense, but maybe I just wasn't bothering to pay attention.

32. Bonds of Honor / Unhappy Trails (Worf Special)

I don't see anything 'special' about it, but the arrival of a new old character was presumably exciting for some Trek fans at the time, so I can't blame Malibu from cashing in on this in their final DS9 release.

We get an alright story highlighting Worf's feelings of alienation and kinship with Odo, a second, worthless story in which Worf plays cowboy in the holosuite, then some posters and encyclopaedia articles to fill out the pages.

31. Collision Course / Frozen Boyhood / Oaths / Honor / Dangerous Times (Special #3)

This anthology of five tales, an average of eight pages long, all written by different people who've never worked on the main comic, is a nicely weird supplement to the main Malibu line. None of it's all that good, which was inevitable really, but it was a nice change of pace all the same.

Across these five stories we have a '90s asteroid impact movie, a terrorism prelude to nothing, Bashir and Odo squabbling over ethics, Nog getting pranked and Jake getting a Discman. The quality of the art, lettering and proofreading amusingly deteriorates as it goes along.

30. Blood and Honor (Celebrity Series #1)

Mark "Sarek/Romulan Commander/Klingon Commander" Lenard joins the short roster of Trek actors who've written officially licensed fan fiction about their own characters, rather than just slapping their name on for royalties like some Shatners who'll remain nameless.

There's enough out-of-place TOS infatuation to dispel any doubt that Lenard did write the story, likely with a bit of help from the regulars inserting actual DS9 things like the Circle that the actor probably wasn't aware of, since he clearly wanted to write a TOS or TNG comic, but DC weren't interested for some reason. It's earned permission to be indulgent, but it's not a great read.

29. Soul Asylum (#29-30)

The TV series was never interested in following up on the fate of Tom Riker after 'Defiant' (what a vague episode title), but it didn't take the expanded universe long to drop in.

Making the Cardassians interested in weaponising transporter malfunctions is interesting, and almost a sarcastic demonstration of the tonal shift from TNG to DS9. But the story that goes with it is lacking, as pretty much nothing happens across two parts.

28. Fadeout (#21)

This tale of hallucinogenic holes appearing throughout the station feels like it was written for one of the ship-based series and given a cursory find-and-replace on the character names. It would have made an okay TNG or Voyager episode, but the station-bound series didn't specialise in anomalies, it's off-brand.

Most of the characters could be switched with their franchise counterparts with no trouble, apart from the bit where Odo shapeshifts and demonstrates sympathetic biological abilities he's never had before. I guess DC weren't taking submissions.

27. The Looking Glass War (Annual)

The comic finally catches up with the third season and we get a story featuring the Defiant and a big Federation-Dominion space battle... but to avoid upsetting canon, it takes place in a parallel universe. Not the established parallel universe you'd expect from the title, just several more random parallel universes that excuse things like a Borg cameo.

It's an action-packed collection of cheap thrills that probably hit the spot for the target demographic at the time, but it doesn't do much for me today.

26. The Shadow Group (#5)

The Marvel series continues to be relentlessly action-packed, which probably pleased a lot of readers. It's at least amusing to see how much battering they're putting the station through across just three stories, a fact proudly highlighted by the editor in case we hadn't yet realised how badass Marvel DS9 is.

So it's mainly a dumb action comic, but there's at least some real DS9 in there this time, with informed references to the Obsidian Order, the Resistance, the Circle, the True Way (I don't even remember that one) and roles for supporting players like Garak and Ziyal. The danger of doing this is that events on TV DS9 were escalating so rapidly, this story was already out of date when it hit the stands.

25. Requiem in Obsidian (#15)

There's nothing really bad about this one, it just feels unnecessary to dredge up an episode from Garak's past now that past is no longer shady and all laid bare, and it doesn't get properly introspective like 'Afterimage' will later.

It's still a Mangels & Martin story though, which means the characters and tone are spot-on. But I can't give it points just for meeting that bare minimum requirement. Even if so many of the earlier comics failed to.

24. Judgment Day (#1-2)

After a year away, DS9 comics continued under Marvel, and if I was going to judge a comic book by its cover, I'd predict we're in store for unrelenting action and fewer light-hearted Ferengi plots.

That bears out for this opening two-parter at least, which is hectic, shooty and generic as far as the characters go, but at least it actually includes the Dominion, who were unusually absent from the Malibu run most of the time. Maybe they found the Jem'Hadar too hard to draw.

23. Old Wounds (#3)

DS9 had already begun its much-improved second season on TV, but we're probably going to be stuck in formulaic season 1 territory for a while until they catch up.

This is pretty much a mash-up of two of those early (good) episodes, as a despised Cardassian returns to the station and Odo is briefly framed for his murder. It at least has the decency to admit the 'A Man Alone' parallel, not that that excuses the laziness. It's possible it was actually written before 'Duet' aired (a few months prior to publication), which would be more impressive, but it doesn't stick the knife in so deep.

22. The Landmark Crossover (Prophets and Losses / The Wormhole Trap! / Encounter with... the Othersiders! / The Enemy Unseen)

I read the first part of this story when it featured in the UK Star Trek magazine. The fact that I didn't feel the need for closure over 20-plus years is a testament to its mediocrity. I didn't get many pages into Michael Jan Friedman's Crossover novel either.

Like its contemporary Star Trek Generations, the team-up gimmick is more important than the story. There's an issue's worth of unremarkable plot spread across four comics that are mainly (correctly) about pairing up like characters from TNG and DS9 and fan-ficking some chemistry. We don't learn anything insightful, except that neither of the writers can write Sisko. The DC comics half has better art.

21. Divided We Fall (Crossfire / No Quarter / All Fall Down / United We Stand)

The third DS9/TNG crossover comic isn't a huge step above the other two, especially since it's all about the Trill. It's odd that one of Star Trek's most interesting species rarely made for good stories.

The only thing that's even slightly interesting about it is that it's part of the Relaunch continuity, so a chance to see some characters who originated in the novels rendered as drawings. It was probably a big deal to some people.

20. Turn of the Tide (#32)

It's notable just how often the comic paralleled the events of the TV series, despite the mandate of all tie-in Trek to spin its wheels and avoid trampling on continuity. This final Malibu issue came out a month after 'Indiscretion' aired, which also features Dukat and Kira grudgingly surviving together on a similarly arid planet, but as we've seen before with apologetic captions explaining that a story's set before a game-changing season opener, they won't have known about it.

There's some good backstory here, but it boils down to another evil madman being thwarted in his nefarious scheme, much like a TNG film.

19. Friend and Foe Alike (#28)

Ro has a substantial B-canon future on the station in the post-finale novels, but this brief appearance is squarely in the Maquis age, meaning she's slightly less welcome.

Ro fits in so well in DS9 (unsurprising, considering she was supposed to be in it) that this doesn't feel like a gratuitous TNG crossover, especially with the O'Brien connection. It's just too short at one issue to have much substance.

18. Mission of Mercy (#19)

Dan Mishkin redeems himself with his second story, a character study of Bashir and his anxieties that's true to the tone of the doctor's episodes, except he doesn't perv over his patients this time. Actually, these might be his first substantial scenes in the comic where he's not awkwardly flirting with Dax.

The aliens could have been better though. Couldn't they have brought in the Dominion, rather than inventing some purple guys?

17. The Maquis: Soldier of Peace (Vacation's Over / Rats in a Maze / Victims of Deceit)

The Maquis always felt a bit like a waste of time. The only really notable thing about that arc is that it built a bridge between the three '90s TV series, and that's superficially the most worthwhile thing about this one – that it came out around the same time Voyager started, and ties in very loosely in a way that might have seemed quite exciting and current at the time, while thankfully remaining DS9.

I should like this one for giving Garak his first substantial role in the comic, but it doesn't tell us anything season two didn't, and I don't like that he got to visit Cardassia this early into his exile, however fleeting.

16. Images (#17)

The comics continue to predict future elements from the TV series, but in a more basic way. Here, we see our first mixed Bajoran-Cardassian woman and the hostility she faces among her preferred kin. It feels over-the-top, but then, the Bajorans were stupid sometimes.

There's a strange ending, but it fits right in with Bashir's dubious ethical track record. The brief glimpse of the Promenande's otherwise unseen pet shop is fun.

15. Nobody Knows the Tribbles I've Seen (#14)

In the least action-packed DS9 comic of all time, a few of the characters sit around a table in Quark's making up tall tales.

It's a fresh of breath air that also has fun speculating on old mysteries and baiting fans while it's at it, as writers Mangels & Martin explore several equally unlikely possibilities behind the Klingon Forehead Problem and their hatred of Tribbles that are more entertaining than the dull canonical explanation provided by Enterprise later.

14. Stowaway (#1-2)

Early DS9 wasn't much better than early TNG, so I wasn't expecting gold. But as far as authenticity goes, Barr & Purcell nail it.

As the comic's own two-part pilot, it finds something for all the major and minor characters to do, even if there's surprisingly little of Quark which will surely be remedied before long. Since comics are for children, it's not surprising or disappointing that Jake & Nog's juvenile hi-jinks drive the plot, but it's mainly focused on the adults trying to clear up their near-catastrophic mess.

Throw in a conspiratorial sub-plot that emphasises DS9's underdog status as the waystation for cocky starships, and this is a tie-in that really understands its source material. More than some of those early episodes did.

13. Lightstorm (Special #1)

This bumper-size story kicks off a new DS9 sideline run that's once again a slightly higher standard than mainline DS9, so you wonder why they didn't just make this the regular comic instead. Oh yeah, $$$.

It's sort of a sequel to the Hearts and Minds miniseries, but swapping Cardassians for yet more random one-time Gamma Quadrant aliens and drafting in some recurring villains who'd recently been bumped off on the big screen, but the writer may not have known that. Or it's just set earlier. That would explain the conspicuous lack of any season three references beyond rectangular comm-badges.

12. Shanghaied (#16)

The comic's earlier attempts at light-hearted stories came off annoyingly childish, but this kidnapping caper balances the humour and peril nicely. I'm surprised it took them this long to do a Quark story.

It's probably a bit too daft to have made a real episode, plus they'd have to change the part where Odo perfectly mimics another character, since he can't actually do that. John Vornholt isn't the only comic writer who wasn't paying attention in that regard.

11. No Time Like the Present / The Nagus's New Clothes / Small Victory (Ultimate Annual)

Three stories here. The first is among the best the Malibu comic produced, a nicely off-the-wall encounter with a reality-warping artifact. The second is a more authentic take on a fairy tale than you'd reasonably expect, which is enjoyable in its absurd way. The third sees Worf chase after a missing pet. Literal fluff, but inoffensive.

It's as uneven as all the anthologies, but still one of the better specials they did.

10. The Rules of Diplomacy (Celebrity Series #2)

Aron "Nog" Eisenberg wrote this story about his character with help from Mark "Not in Star Trek" Paniccia, and it was a worthwhile exercise, not to mention timely. It builds on Nog's recent ambition to enter Starfleet Academy and is even more specifically dated by coming out during that brief one-episode window in which Sisko had grown the beard and received the extra rank pip but hadn't shaved his head yet. If DS9 memorabilia were coins, the mid-1995 ones would fetch the highest prices.

Nog's diplomatic adventure with a Klingon is a bit simplistic, but it does give us a better look at Ferenginar than we'd ever get on TV. Making all those lobes must add up.

9. Emancipation (#4-5)

We head to the Gamma Quadrant for the first time as Dax and Bashir encounter some worse-for-wear aliens aboard a battered ship and bring them back to town. It turns out they're slaves, and when their slavers show up, Sisko has to contend with that pesky Prime Directive that this iteration of Trek was largely spared from.

There's no rule that DS9 stories have to be depressing and frustratingly grey, but that's what Mike W. Barr saw in the series, and these are still feeling a lot more authentic than I expected. Even if that usually means they always feel like they're indebted to specific first-season episodes. To its credit, it also feels a bit prescient for upcoming season two episodes – anyone reading after 1993 will be anticipating a Dominion reference.

8. Risk (#6-7)

In a notable break from all the Marvel action, Trek veteran Howard Weinstein returns with what starts out as a generic anomaly plot, but develops into something more interesting.

If this was an episode, it'd be one of those forgettable planet-of-the-week ones I'm ambivalent to that aren't particularly DS9 in flavour. But by the lower standards of the comics, I'll take what I can get.

7. The Secret of the Lost Orb (The Search / Acceptable Losses / Gods of War, #23-25)

Jumping at any excuse for a celebration, Malibu commemorate two years and 25 issues with an extended trilogy that throws in just about all the hallmarks of early DS9. Orbs, Dukat, Kai Winn, the Defiant shooting things, Kira brooding about her faith, it's got everything except the Jem'Hadar, once again coming up with random aliens in their place to preserve the precious continuity. That feels like a missed opportunity, but their ships do look nice.

I think the novels later did the same story about a civilisation on the other side of the wormhole also receiving the Orbs and coming up with their own interpretation of the Prophets. It's kind of a glaring omission that the TV series didn't.

6. Fool's Gold

It failed to launch a modern DS9 comic run, but this miniseries set on the cusp of season four gets the nostalgia right and feels like a fond return, even to someone who's just read all the DS9 comics there have ever been over a couple of weeks.

I'm especially pleased that the Tipton brothers went with a light-hearted story after (technically before) all the conflict. The only thing I didn't like so much is the digital art that puts in textured displays and stuff. What happened to drawing?

5. Terok Nor (Special #2)

Further adventures with familiar characters are all well and good, but some of my favourite expanded universe fiction abandons the familiar to tell us something new and different. The riskier the road, the greater the profit. Aesthetically, at least.

Bashir and Dax make perfunctory bookending cameos, but this is otherwise another trip into the dark history of the station that predates Odo, Kira and the rest of the era-spanners (although it's clear who the Gul's son is supposed to be) to tell us the origin of the station itself. I admire the departure, accentuated by Trevor Goring's painted art.

4. Requiem (#8-9)

I needn't have worried that the series would slip from its adequate standard. Mark A. Altman takes over writing duties and gives us the first story that would actually have made a worthwhile episode. I just hope they don't continue to alternate between these more mature tales and childish guff every other month.

Most of the good episodes in the first two seasons dealt with the station's dark history in one way or another, and this tale of Bajoran Anne Frank fits right in.

3. N-Vector

The first of many licensed DS9 stories taking place after the TV finale, I've been mildly curious about this miniseries since it came out, though evidently not curious enough to get around to it until now.

While the series was still going, I praised the comics that managed to capture the feel of an authentic episode, give or take some extravagant special effects that would stretch the limits of a TV budget. Now that the series is over, I'm happy for them to get as crazy and off-the-wall as they like, and K.W. Jeter's tale of possession and a twisted doppelganger station obliges, aided by Toby Cypress' fittingly skewed art that would just be unpleasant in a more run-of-the-mill story.

2. Hearts and Minds (Prelude / For the Glory of the Empire / On the Edge of Armageddon / Into the Abyss / Masters of War)

There's something shady in the Gamma Quadrant playing the Klingons and Cardassians against each other and threatening a destabilising war. This is all very familiar, but this time it's the comic readers (and writer) who'll be sensing deja vu and borderline plagiarism as the TV show develops.

We're still on late-second-season knowledge, so things don't play out exactly the same (and there's no risk of upsetting the status quo in a licensed tie-in), but this does suggests DS9 was on an inevitable course to galactic conflict one way or another. Niners on a budget would have been well advised to favour this four-part miniseries over the main range issues released during the same period, which were a complete waste of time.

1. Lwaxana Troi and the Wedding of Doom / Four Funerals and a Wedding (#10-11)

Lwaxana Troi episodes were reliably among the worst of the whole series, so it isn't the greatest accolade that Andy Mangels & Michael Martin managed to outdo them all here. What's more impressive is that it feels the most authentically like a lost TV script of the entire comic run. Even if it would only have been an average episode, being able to hear the actors' voices for a change still counts for a lot.

The Marvel series has been more concerned with action at the expense of character, and while this still contains a slime monster, the fact that it's supporting player Rom running around with a phaser rifle to save his fiancee is commendable. These guys should have been writing the comic all along.

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