Monday, December 1, 2008

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Last Generation #1

How passionate are you about the Star Trek universe? Fervent enough to follow an alternate-reality take on the Next Generation timeline? If so, you've hit the jackpot with The Last Generation. Staged in a parallel galaxy in which the Klingons have conquered Earth and ruled for seventy years, the series follows an outlaw resistance group led by Jean-Luc Picard as they struggle to free their species from extraterrestrial oppression.

While the story's basic premise relies on some very specific details from the Star Trek mythos, (did you remember an assassination attempt at the end of Star Trek VI? I didn't, but I'm not even sure I saw that one...) there's something here for both passive fans and hardcores alike. Even non-fanatical followers of the franchise will know the difference between the Worf of the standard TNG and his counterpart in The Last Generation, and the story's author, Andrew Steven Harris, stuffs this first issue full of easter eggs and subtle winks at his more astute readers while still keeping the narrative moving.

But where his love for Trek trivia is obvious from the very get-go, Harris's passion for writing doesn't follow suit. Although the story's concept may be rich and original, in execution it's full of plot holes, tasteless dialog, redundant battle scenes and fabricated drama. Every single fight scene ends in precisely the same way, (unexpected cavalry, hoorayyy) the issue's cast has zero chemistry and the narrative jumps around like a manic six year old on Jolt Cola and Fruity Pebbles.

The writer's collaborator, Gordon Purcell, doesn't even fare that well. His artwork is downright terrible, a bad parody of fan work that may be the worst I've seen in print since the industry-wide glut of the early ‘90s. I'm used to seeing big-name licensed books shoveled out with little regard paid to quality, but this is ridiculous. Purcell's work is busy, two-dimensional, faceless and amateur at its finest moments and downright illegible at its worst. To his credit, he manages a close enough likeness to the major characters' big screen counterparts that the story remains understandable, but honest to god, this stuff is so bad I'm surprised I didn't see the edges of a spiral-bound notebook on a few pages. It's hideous, and deals a significant blow to the story's legitimacy before it can even get off the ground.

I wouldn't recommend this to even the most devoted Trekkie. While the foundation may hold some interest, an all-conquering race of Klingons who finally live up to their potential as the baddest of all bad guys, that basic concept is the only thing here that's actually working. Insufferable storytelling combined with terrifically rotten artwork makes The Last Generation an undeniable failure. Set your phasers to skip.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 1

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