Star Trek: The Q Conflict #3: Good Plot, Slow Start

Star Trek: The Q Conflict #3 Cover A by David Messina. Written by Scott and David Tipton, drawn by David Messina and Elisabetta D’Amico. Published by IDW Publishing. 17 April, 2019.

Star Trek: The Q Conflict #3

Alexandra Alexakis (colours), Carola Borelli (artist), Elisabetta D’Amico (artist), David Messina (artist), David Tipton (writer), Scott Tipton (writer), Neil Uyetake (letters)
IDW Publishing
17 April, 2019

Captain Janeway’s team won the first challenge in the Q Conflict and this has displeased Q, who betrays his characteristic belligerence when he chastises Picard’s methods in the first challenge. But unbeknownst to Q, there is dissension among his ranks. Trelane, Ayelborne, and Metron don’t like Q and wish for this farce to be over, but they’re all terrified of a potential Q temper tantrum destroying the universe. For now, the challenges must go ahead. The four teams—under Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko, and Janeway—are willing to go along with it, as long as their crews and ships aren’t hurt in the process. But can we trust the omnipotent beings to keep their promises?

Star Trek: The Q Conflict #3 Cover B by David Messina. Written by Scott and David Tipton, drawn by David Messina and Elisabetta D’Amico. Published by IDW Publishing. 17 April, 2019. - Two starships soar in space above a planet

The Q Conflict #3 has a much slower start than the previous two issues, and though it does work to set up the discord between the various beings, it ends up dragging the plot. Each group, and each being who has chosen them, is dedicated a page to discuss how to take down Q and end the challenges. Most of what is discussed in these pages is repetitive, and though it is nice to get a sense of how the captains and their crews feel, as well as insight about Trelane, Ayelborne, and Metron’s concerns, a single page would have sufficed to give the reader an idea about such proceedings.

There is moment in this prelude that did interest me, though: the relationship between Ayelborne and Metron, who seem more comfortable with each other than they are with Trelane (and obviously Q). Are we to believe their two species have had more shared history than the others? I hope we get to learn more as the series progresses.

I have to say that Q’s characterisation as a petulant child in issue #3 doesn’t quite gel for me. He has been known to be impulsive—something Picard calls him out on—but to be this unaware of the consequences of his actions is more akin to the Q we first met on The Next Generation, not the more mature, understanding version we meet in Voyager. It’s not beyond the realm of belief for Q to act this way, but I’m still not completely sold on the route that writers Scott and David Tipton have chosen.

The latter half is where the story really gets interesting. It focuses on the second challenge, which ends up taking on numerous iterations to meet Trelane’s exacting standards. This section of the story is incredibly exciting and sees the four ships working beautifully in sync. The crews advising each other on how best to take down their foe, the captains planning their next move, the ships synchronising their actions to get the best shot—this is what Star Trek is all about, and these pages of The Q Conflict #3 perfectly capture it. Thirty pages of this was what I wanted from The Q Conflict #3.

I had struggled with the art in the previous issue—I felt it wasn’t as detailed as it should have been, and that several characters became interchangeable—and I am seeing that artists Elisabetta D’Amico, David Messina, and Carola Borelli have not done much to rectify matters here. Most of the characters in the background are identifiable by their hair, but their faces are still blank, which is an odd stylistic choice for a Star Trek comic. The whole point of the series is to highlight how important everyone in the crew is, not just the captains.

Aside from my problems with the character work, the rest of the art is pretty spectacular. The surroundings where the challenge is set would rival the Louvre gardens, and the ships are a delight to behold. I love how the art team has captured the interiors of the different vessels, particularly in one page where Trelane visits all four bridges. Despite the two-dimensionality of the comic page, the art team on The Q Conflict #3 have managed to create movement. Simply splendid.

It helps that Alexandra Alexakis’ colours are gorgeous. She really knows how to bring to life the people that make Star Trek so memorable with her choice of hues and palette. Alexakis certainly had her work cut out for her with the ships’ exteriors, but she has shown that she is more than up to the challenge. Her colours are definitely a highlight of this series.

Had the ponderous opening pages been done away with, The Q Conflict #3 could easily be considered one of the strongest entries in this series. The story is exciting and captivating, and ends on a cliffhanger that will leave readers desperate for the next issue. This is turning out to be a fantastic Star Trek story.

Louis Skye

Louis Skye

A writer at heart with a fondness for well-told stories, Louis Skye is always looking for a way to escape the planet, whether through comic books, films, television, books, or video games. E always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media. Louis' podcast, Stereo Geeks, is available on all major platforms. Pronouns: E/ Er/ Eir