Star Trek Defiant #3 Review

Writers: Christopher Cantwell

Art: Ángel Unzueta

Colors: Marissa Louise

Letters: Clayton Cowles

Publisher: IDW

Price: 4.99

Release Date: May 10th, 2022

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The Dispatch

Defiant is cornered and Worf is a prisoner. The situation is dire when STAR TREK DEFIANT #3’s begins, and the crew’s only hope lies with dangerous allies. It sounds like a relatively straightforward story. But Cantwell turns it into something even more interesting by telling an Orion motivational story. Worf, Ro, and B’elanna are prisoners aboard the Orion ship Scarab when STAR TREK DEFIANT #3 opens. This leaves Spock and Lore’s disembodied head alone aboard Defiant as the Scarab opens fire. Stories for the two groups run in parallel as the captives on the Orion ship make their escape (aided by an Orion) and Spock finds himself reliant on Lore to save the ship. Worf is shot in the chest and needs a shot of the same Red Path Sacrament that Kahless’ followers use. Spock reassembles Lore to make repairs in a part of the ship too radioactive for a living person to survive.

Throughout the issue, narration tells the story of an Orion and rival Gorn. It’s not explicit who is relating this story (though presumably it is the Orion that escapes with the crew). The end of the story sees the Orion, seemingly friendly and loyal to the Gorn for years, ultimately achieving a victory over him when all those who had attacked the Gorn directly had failed. STAR TREK DEFIANT #3 opens with a couple messy pages as Spock, apparently alone on Defiant, is having a conversation with someone over a com channel. It turns out that this person is Lore. At no point in the issue does Spock refer to Lore by name, though. Lore has also not communicated with the crew in this manner in previous issues. Additionally, by the time STAR TREK DEFIANT #2 had ended, fourteen pages had elapsed since Lore was involved in any way. As a result, Spock’s dialogue exchange on the first page reads almost like he’s inexplicably communicating with Worf or even an Orion. An obvious solution to this would have been to name check Lore in the opening dialogue. Spock’s dialogue in the second panel could have included it naturally.

That momentary confusion aside, STAR TREK DEFIANT #3 proceeds at a good click. The issue’s plot is relatively basic–escape the Scarab–but it is exciting and focused. The Orion story Cantwell tells is also a good unifying device for the issue’s two story threads. Worf, Ro, and B’elanna are operating independently of Spock and Lore. While escape is the ultimate goal of all involved, the two groups have no communication until the final pages. The Orion story details how the Gorn, Xaucus, defeated a line of Orions who attempted to kill him in vengeance. Ultimately an Orion named Neeva makes peace with Xaucus, and over time their relationship grows. Xaucus relies on Neeva, trusts her, and never suspects potential betrayal. The story parallels both threads as Worf is forced to rely on the Orion aboard the Scarab while at the same time Spock is forced to rely on Lore. The story gives the issue an ominous note as both Worf and Spock have brought potential wolves into the fold not unlike Xaucus with Neeva.

Art & Letters

The art and colors during the interiors sequences of STAR TREK DEFIANT #3 work well. There are several sequences on the Scarab as the group escapes that are particularly high energy. Unzueta uses a tried and true device–streaking lines–to convey speed of movement. There usually isn’t much that is especially remarkable about the device. But Unzueta makes it stand out, likely because of how he makes streaks radiate from specific points of action, extend across only limited parts of panels where that action takes place, and adjusts the direction in which the lines flare out from specific areas to reflect points of force and impact. Spock’s scenes on Defiant aren’t as action packed. The character spends a lot of time standing over consoles. Louise’s colors do the lion’s share of the work creating urgency in these scenes. The shading for smoke and color fading of explosions create a sense of growing catastrophe. The worsening damage has momentum.

Cowles’s style and placement of sound effects add to both of these interior settings. They play off the sense of momentum that Unzeta’s art generates with the action on the Scarab, especially where the streaking line device emphasizes points of impact. Likewise Cowles’s sound effect color choices work with Louise’s work on Defiant. The exterior sequences are considerably less effective. There are only a few of these, a panel here and there that seem to be included only to remind the reader that the two ships are at odds. Scarab shoots at Defiant in a panel. Then the issue cuts to the interiors for several pages before Scarab shoots at Defiant in another panel. Then the issue cuts to interiors for even more pages before Defiant shoots Scarab in a panel. In each case the ships have no sense of movement and no life to them. They merely sit in place.

A place where the issue would have benefited from additional creativity from Cowles is in Lore’s dialogue over comm. Cowles frequently uses the color red with Worf’s dialogue–whether as a highlight around a dialogue bubble or the bubble itself or all the text. A device similar to this, or a dialogue bubble that was not identical to the ordinary shape of dialogue over comm channels would have cleaned up the first couple pages on Defiant.

Final Thoughts

STAR TREK DEFIANT #3 is the most energetic issue yet and the most narratively creative. Cantwell’s use of the Neeva/Xaucus story adds weight that this issue would not otherwise have and creates a sense of foreboding. The issue’s relatively minor missteps aren’t big problems, but they are distracting. However, while this is the weakest of the current STAR TREK series, STAR TREK DEFIANT remains a compelling read.


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