You know what, Spocks? I agree.
Spoilers ahead for Star Trek #50.
IDW’s ongoing Star Trek comic, which hit its 50th issue this week, has already made a name for itself using the crew and universe of the “JJverse” Trek reboot, and then retelling the stories of the classic original series with them. So it kind of makes sense that a milestone like issue 50 utilises one of the most beloved concepts from classic Star Trek: The Mirror Universe. And despite being an old concept wrapped in the shiny, lens-flare-laden look of the new films, it’s an absolute blast. Like any good episode of the original show, it walks that fine line between knowing what a laugh this concept is and playing it completely seriously.
Following a dodgy encounter with an ion storm, the crew of the Enterprise finds itself getting a fearful hail from a colony in the Ceti Alpha system. The colonists beg that the Enterprise doesn’t obliterate them into bits, confusing the crew, but already readers are more than aware of what’s going on if a ship like Enterprise has a reputation for murder. But Mike Johnson and Tony Shasteen choose not to give up the obvious game quite so quickly, and instead throw a great big curveball for fun:
The colonists are Augments, lead by none other than
Cummerbund Bandersnatch John Harrison Khan Noonien Singh!
It’s shortly after that the issue gets well into the joy of exploring the Mirror Universe concept though, and you get an absolutely fantastic splash of the U.S.S. and I.S.S. Enterprises meeting (the I.S.S. is all black, because, you know, eeeviiiiilll)—and of course, seeing the Mirror take on this rebooted crew.
Apparently, only Spock got the memo on facial hair equalling evil. Everyone else? Clippers. Sinister short cuts for all! Sadly, this issue, being the first in a three parter, doesn’t get to embrace the Mirror Universe as much as you’d want—you get the initial confused banter between Alt-Spock and Spock-Spock, Terrans being jerks (they blow up Khan’s colony, just so you don’t forget that they’re eeeviiiiilll), people mistaking the innocent crew for their I.S.S. counterparts. It’s just enough setup and familiarity—and a sense that the creative team are actually having fun with it—that it makes you want to continue with this Trek series if you haven’t.
There’s even a kicker cliffhanger in the form of... well, remember how in the original show Terran Empire officers ascended rank by murdering their superiors? This beardy-Spock allegedly did that to Mirror Kirk...
Or not. Double the Kirk, double the fun? We’ll have to wait and see.
As a loving homage, IDW’s Star Trek has always sort of been a step forward, step back—instead of embracing the the vibe of the original series at first, it simply lifted its stories and put the new crew into them. But when it gets moments like this, when it simply borrows a concept and goes buck wild with it, it’s exactly the sort of fun this series should always have been.