Mirror Universe Collection Effectively Captures a Badass Picard

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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Universe Collection effectively captures a ruthless version of Picard and his I.S.S. Enterprise crew.

Within a franchise as extensive as Star Trek, sometimes questioning what could have happened to characters makes as strong a story as what’s already been told. During Star Trek‘s run, the idea of a parallel universe was first explored and later expanded on during Star Trek: The Next Generation. Originally, Captain Kirk and Spock encountered their ruthless, mirror counterparts in a parallel universe during Star Trek‘s “Mirror, Mirror” episode. IDW’s Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Universe Collection asks: what if audiences met Jean-Luc Picard’s dangerous counterpart and his cold I.S.S. Enterprise crew?

The omnibus Mirror-verse collection consists of three graphic novels that tie in together to form this alternative Star Trek reality and fists-flying version of Picard. In “Mirror Broken,” Picard — the captain of the I.S.S. Stargazer — rallies his iconic Mirror-verse crew to claim the newly made ship Enterprise by force. In “Through the Mirror,” the Mirror-verse crew of the Enterprise invade the Prime universe and take their ship for themselves. However, Picard and his faithful crew aren’t going down without a fight. Within the last section, “Terra Incognito,” Mirror-verse Barclay decides to take his Prime counterpart’s place undercover.

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In stark contrast to the Prime universe with its United Federation of Planets, the Mirror Universe is set up as a dystopian place. The Terran Empire is preoccupied with conquest and is stuck in battle due to the alliance between the Cardassians and the Klingons. In the first few pages of the “Mirror Broken,” Tasha Yar is literally stabbed in the back by Barclay after she impulsively destroys ships full of rebelling Vulcan slaves. Picard is pleased with the recent turn of events, which gives readers an immediate sense of how this rough universe operates.

The Mirror-verse characters make their evilness clear from their appearances — sleeveless arm-bearing uniforms, scars, heavy makeup for the women, and of course, facial hair galore for its male characters. While these designs are a bit silly, the writing team, made up of David and Scott Tipton, is careful to make sure these elements don’t detract from the story’s drama.

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Mirror Universe Collection boasts an entire gallery of artists, with each team creating visuals fitting the tone of the story they’re assigned. “Mirror Broken,” drawn by artist J.K. Woodward, pays homage to the airbrushed style of 1980s movie posters, whereas its epilogue, “Mirror Broken: Origin of Data” drawn by Josh Hood and Jason Lewis, has thick line weights, strong black placement and vibrant colors. However, at times, this chapter’s art style can work against itself with stiff character poses and wooden facial expressions.

Of the three main sections, “Through the Mirror” has the strongest story, with double the cast and quintuple the artists, including Marcus To, Chris Johnson, Josh Hood, Carlos Nieto and Debora Carita. It’s a real treat to see the crew of the Enterprise fight with their evil counterparts. There is also some solid comic relief throughout, especially with the subplot focusing on Barclay and his evil counterpart. The only downside to this section is that the differing art styles in each segment, while all very good, can be jarring when read together.

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The collection’s final section, “Terra Incognito,” picks up where “Into the Mirror” left off, with Mirror-verse Barclay infiltrating the Prime Enterprise, which causes ripple effects on the crew’s diplomatic negotiations. While at times the plots of this section are meandering, they do bring strong character development for Wesley, Beverly Crusher, Selar and Troi.

At over 400 pages of story, Mirror Universe Collection is at times an unwieldy read. While there is a lot of attention to detail, the collection’s segments can be overwhelming on a first reading. However, the writing is consistently strong throughout, and the art styles, while dizzying in their numbers, effectively capture the aesthetic of the series. Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Universe Collection is an immense and impressive omnibus, covering and exploring many untold storylines. While it may lack the warmth of the stories and characters from the Prime universe that fans are most familiar with, the Mirror Universe still has enough stories of its own to create a compelling, intriguing read that’s worth revisiting.

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