Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Chris Fenoglio
Letters & Design: Johanna Nattalie & Jake Wood
Release Date: November 30th, 2022
When holograms can reprogram themselves, no one is safe! Holographic Dracula wants to suck the crew dry–and he can do it!
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Star Trek: Lower Decks #3 Review.
The first two issues of STAR TREK LOWER DECKS perfectly captured the spirit of the TV show which in turn is a remarkable distillation (albeit in animated comedy form) of what makes Star Trek great. STAR TREK LOWER DECKS #3 doesn’t disappoint in this regard. In fact the issue leans heavily into the classic Trek themes of discovering and understanding new life as well as the idea of self-improvement for its own sake.
STAR TREK LOWER DECKS #3 picks up the story at a moment of high jeopardy as the Cerritos and its crew are threatened with destruction for breaking the Qvanti’s version of the Prime Directive by contacting their planet’s less advanced population, the Yentoa (who the Qvanti claim to safeguard). Meanwhile Boiler’s sentient Dracula hologram has developed a taste for human blood and is determined to take his fill from the Cerritos’s crew. And in the tradition of all accidentally sentient Star Trek holograms he is clever enough to do it. The two storylines proceed separately as they have through the first two issues.
The A/B structure looks likely to resolve separately. The lower deckers appear primed to deal with Dracula while the bridge officers in turn save the ship. Instead, North brings the two stories together at the end. Dracula proves essential to saving the ship while Captain Freeman solves the dilemma of giving the hologram a full life.
The beauty of STAR TREK LOWER DECKS #3 is in how North ties everything together in a way you’re unlikely to find outside Stark Trek. The bridge crew story that threatens to destroy Cerritos is resolved by learning about the Qvanti culture and history. While a brief battle ensues, the Cerritos ultimately doesn’t have to fight its way out of the predicament it finds itself in because Captain Freeman is able to confront the Qvanti with the knowledge she has gained.
But as representative as the Qvanti plot is of Star Trek’s ideal of peace and understanding, the real meat in STAR TREK LOWER DECKS #3 comes in the Dracula story. The sentient hologram learns enough about 24th century technology to take over the ship and imprison the crew. This is accomplished in a hilarious scene where the computer refuses to answer Dracula’s questions, revealing restricted data. But the computer has no problem letting Dracula reprogram himself to possess the knowledge. This is reminiscent of holodeck stories going all the way back to The Next Generation’s Moriarty episodes where the hologram somehow gained enough knowledge to threaten the ship from inside the holodeck (twice!).
Faced with the threat of Dracula draining the Cerritos’s entire crew dry, most stories would default to a resolution involving the cyber imprisonment if not destruction of Dracula. Instead, North delivers three pages of dialogue between the lower deckers and Dracula that is uniquely Star Trek: the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity to make up for mistakes and the conviction that everyone can choose to be better than they are. In a few humorous pages in STAR TREK LOWER DECKS #3, North captures the essence of the franchise his comic is based on.
All series Fenoglio has delivered art that looks lifted from episodes of the series. Of course it has the unique comic book quality of conveying action through still images rather than the motion. STAR TREK LOWER DECKS #3 is no exception. And even if it were, including a crewman in a skant deserves bonus points all on its own. Especially funny is the panel where the crewman kneels next to Ransom. The skant is just short enough to make the officer’s pose slightly awkward.
Boimler continues to wear his vampire cape in this issue. He even goes so far as to wear it with his dress uniform and outside of his EV suit! It’s hard to describe just how funny this is. It is so uniquely Boimler and thanks to Fenoglio it doesn’t look out of place at all.
STAR TREK LOWER DECKS #3 is a funny, at times hilarious, comic book. The whole series has been. And it would be a fun enough comic if that’s all it was. Instead North and Fenoglio tell a story that uses the humor of Star Trek Lower Decks to get at the heart and soul of what Star Trek is all about, and I can think of no higher praise for an adaptation of this television and movie franchise.