Star Trek: The Next Generation The Manga cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.
Sci-Fi; Rated “T” for “Teen-Age 13+”
TOKYOPOP continues its Star Trek manga project with Star Trek: The Next Generation The Manga: Boukenshin, the first volume in its series of global manga based upon the 1987-94 syndicated television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. The publisher isn’t being careless in terms of getting writing talent behind this manga. Veteran Star Trek writer David Gerrold, best known for “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode of the original Star Trek’s second season, contributes this volume’s opening tale.
Star Trek: The Next Generation The Manga: Boukenshin is comprised of four stories. Gerrold’s “Changeling” finds Ensign Wesley Crusher accompanying the away team to the mysterious “Labyrinth of Wisdom.” The story has a big twist ending that Trek fans will likely figure out by the half-way point of the story. The mission ends up being a way to teach Wesley (sort of like Star Trek’s Kobe Bryant) how to appreciate being part of a team. Gerrold’s comic touch is evident, and the art by E.J. Su successfully conveys the script’s comic timing, especially Su’s gift for expressive cartoon faces.
Veteran Star Trek novelist and science fiction and fantasy author Diane Duane offers the long-winded “Sensation.” This sci-fi/mystery tale features Dr. Beverly Crusher and Counselor Deanna Troi in a race to discover the origin of and cure for a mystery contagion that has nearly incapacitated an archeological expedition and may soon endanger the Enterprise. Chrissy Delk makes interesting choices in terms of telling this story as a graphic narrative, which livens up an occasionally leaden tale.
I have been a fan of the original Star Trek series since I was a small child, but I’ve had mixed feelings about Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m somewhere in the no man’s land of tolerating, accepting, and liking the series. I can say that Star Trek: The Next Generation The Manga: Boukenshin reminds me of the show, so I have a like/tolerate attitude about this. The manga recalls things about the show that I disliked (too much talking instead of action and/or suspense; too many ready room meetings; and sometimes being pompous and pretentious, for example) and has things that I liked (the crew’s camaraderie and the holodeck).
The two best stories in this volume are the third and fourth – The Picardian Knot (by Christine Boylan with art by Don Hudson) and “Loyalty” (by R.J. DeSanto with art by Bettina Kurkoski), which takes place in ST: TNG chronology after the two-part “The Best of Both Worlds” (the last episode of season three and the first of season four). Both are built around Captain Jean-Luc Picard (a character about which I have decidedly mixed feelings), but feature the crew supporting him in ways that appeal to my love of how the crew was depicted as being close and very supportive of each other.
I suspect fans who love Star Trek: The Next Generation will love Star Trek: The Next Generation The Manga: Boukenshin, while a fan who only kinda likes TNG (me) may actually like this…