REVIEW: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Hive #4 (of 4)

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Or – “COLON!”

With the launch-bootery of the original Star Trek universe in 2009, it’s been a while since we’ve looked in on our friends in the original Federation of Planets.  What have the crews of the Enterprise and Voyager been up to?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

TNGCoverSTAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION: HIVE #4
Story: Brannon Braga
Scripter(s): Terry Matalas & Travis Fickett
Artist: Joe Corroney
Inker(s): Matt Fillbach & Shawn Fillbach
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Star Trek The Next Generation: Hive: Man, that’s a lot of punctuation. The return of the USS Voyager to Federation space had several effects, but none was as unexpected as the friendship between Annika “7-of-9″ Hansen and Jean-Luc Picard.  The two bonded over their similar traumatic experience of assimilation by the Borg, and tried to return to normal lives.  Eventually, though, there came a point where the Borg returned and assimilated EVERYTHING.  500 years later, Picard and Data are working underground in the Borg collective to finally end the threat of the Borg, only to find that the Borg Queen has taken control of 7-of-9!  Can the crew of the Enterprise fight off the inevitable?

I AM LOCUTUS, OF BORG…

So, there are a lot of stories in the Star Trek universe, and many of them feel awkward or even ill-advised.  From the first issue, this one felt somehow “official” in ways that some stories haven’t.  I don’t know if that’s the presence of Brannon Braga on the writing staff, or if it’s just a good story, but either way, I was sucked in immediately.  This issue opens with the second assimilation of Jean-Luc Picard before cutting back to explain how it all came to be.  There’s some timey-wimey madness with Data coming back in time at the behest of Locutus and 7-of-Queen, but what most of the issue boils down to is ship-to-ship combat while Picard pulls the old Kansas City shuffle.  There’s some wonderful bits of character-building within, from Data’s precise analysis of the time differences to the current Borg Queen’s horrible sliminess, but probably the most entertaining moment comes in a representation of Picard’s sensations as he is overtaken by nanites:  To demonstrate 7-of-9′s subroutines protecting him, the ghost image of a naked spectral Jeri Ryan wraps herself around Jean-Luc in a very sexual fashion.

A NON-CANON SACRIFICE, BUT A GOOD ONE ANYWAY.

It’s an image that could have gone horribly wrong and sunk the whole ship, but it serves a dual function here:  One, the likeness is spot-on for both actors, and more importantly, it underlines the level of intimacy required to protect Picard from the collective.  Things get real serious real quick, and the Enterprise is forced to defend itself from a literal Borg armada while Picard and Annika try to bring down the Borg from within.  Fighty-fighty ensues, and one of the cast actually ends up dying in order to free as many Borg drones as possible from their slavery.  The issue even ends with the liberated drones starting their own colony, a very ST:TNG kind of development, while Picard sets course for the Daystrom Institute to check in with our time period’s Data.  Of course, I have clearly missed a few bits of ephemera (like why Worf is missing an eye, what happened with Data’s seeming death in the last TNG movie and such) but it doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the story a whit.

BOTTOM LINE: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.

The death of 7-of-9 is handled pretty well here, with lots of stuff going on all around the Enterprise, and a pretty lovely character arc for Picard as well.  There hasn’t really been a whole lot of exploration of what happened during the Locutus incident (for instance, you have to wonder about Picard’s lamenting his lack of children in ‘Generations,’ implying that his lost nephew means the end of the family line…  What did they do to his body to make a lack of children such a certainty) during the show proper, and the friendship between the Picard and Annika feels not only natural, but perfectly in character for each.  This issue wraps up things in a satisfying manner, leading Star Trek: The Next Generation: Hive #4 to earn 4 out of 5 stars (and 3 additional punctuation marks) overall.  If you’re even a casual Next Generation fan, you should really give this one a look…

Rating: ★★★★☆

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