In 1989, the ongoing, monthly series based on the hit television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, hit comic book shelves everywhere. Written by Michael Jan Friedman and drawn by Pablo Marcus, this series was better than the 6-issue miniseries that had preceded it. But not by much. They were still finding their way, but they found it fairly quickly.
At first, the stories were fairly compact – running a couple of issues each with the usual plot elements; mystery to be solved, investigate, RUH-ROH RAGGY! DANGER! DANGER! DANGER WILL RIKER! Everything looks bleak, then someone saves the day and makes it possible for everyone to escape.
As time went on, we started to get more character development both in the show and in the comics. Of course, the show was canon, the comics – not so much, but still – I think we as an audience of fans, had been starved for new Trek for a while and though the movies and the novels based on TOS were fun (not 5) and entertaining (not 5) and gave us some insights (not 5) into the characters we knew so well, they were getting old. Here, now, with this Next Gen crew, it was like starting all over again and we ate it up.
The difference between an ensemble television show and a comic based on that show is simple; we get to see stuff we would never really get to see on the show. Think of it as the ‘Ringo principle’.
When the Beatles went into the recording studio, there were 10 John and Paul songs, 1 or 2 (at most) George songs, and then that 1, lone Ringo song. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Ringo song because the little guy just sang his heart out – but we really only got to see him do that once per album.
The same is true with the ensemble television show; we don’t get to see much of the ‘little guys’. The ‘focus’ of Next Gen was obviously Picard, Riker, Troi, Data, Wesley & later, Worf. They got the most screen time, IMHO. Doctor Crusher had her moments, so did Geordi and even Tasha Yar – but they were moments sprinkled out here and there. In the comics, it didn’t have to be, well, ‘so’…
Geordi got his time in the sun.
As did Chief O’Brien (Before his run on DS9, of course). Even Guinan got some more face time:
Not to mention everyone’s favorite Bajoran bad ass (before she was in command of the Battlestar Pegasus), Ensign Ro (Michelle Forbes):
(Yes. That really does say ‘The Bajoran and the Beast’.)
Just like with the series based on the Original Star Trek, DC’s run on Next Generation had it’s ups and downs and, just like with that series, they were able to do things that just weren’t possible on the show due to budgets and all of that stuff. We’ll take a look at some of the high points (and low points) next time.