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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Malibu Comics) – The Rules of Diplomacy (Review/Retrospective)

The September and October, we’re taking a look at the jam-packed 1994 to 1995 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily for the latest review.

One of the more interesting aspects of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the way that the cast actively involved themselves in the mythology of the show. Armin Shimerman originally pitched The 34th Rule as an episode of the show, along with Eric A. Sitwell and David R. George III. Andrew Robinson published A Stitch in Time, a novel based on notes he had been making about Garak during the production of the series. Even J.G. Hertzler co-wrote the Left Hand of Destiny duology.

Of course, this was not a unique occurrence. Walter Koenig had written an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, an issue of Marvel’s on-going Star Trek comic and even The Machiavellian Principle, a play performed at the Ultimate Fantasy convention. John DeLancie had co-written The Gift, a story published in DC’s Star Trek: The Next Generation comics. Ethan Phillips and Robert Picardo would lend their names to tie-in Star Trek: Voyager books.

However, it seems reasonable to observe that the supporting cast on Deep Space Nine were particularly interested in fleshing out and developing their characters. So it seems appropriate that Aron Eisenberg should co-write The Rules of Diplomacy, a special about Nog earning some credits before shipping off to Starfleet Academy.

You can't go home again...

You can’t go home again…

Deep Space Nine had the franchise’s largest and deepest ensemble. There are supporting characters who received more development than the credited leads on other Star Trek spin-offs. This is even the case with some late additions to the cast, like Damar, Martok or Weyoun; characters who would not join the cast until the fourth season. To pick an obvious comparison, it is worth contrasting the character development of Nog and Harry Kim.

Nog was introduced in the pilot of Deep Space Nine as a juvenile delinquent; in the show’s third year, he went on to enter Starfleet Academy; he subsequently graduated, get promoted to Lieutenant, all while developing as a character. In contrast, Harry Kim remained an Ensign for seven years. Aron Eisenberg appeared in forty-six episodes of Deep Space Nine. Garrett Wang was a regular for one-hundred-and-seventy-two episodes of Voyager.

The business of diplomacy...

The business of diplomacy…

There was an incredibly opportunity for growth and development there, and it makes sense that the actors would form an attachment to their characters; that they would become so fascinated with their internal lives that they would have stories to tell about these characters outside the framework of the show itself. It is always interesting to get a glimpse of how an actors sees the role that they play; how they interpret the source material through their own process and method.

Malibu Comics worked quite hard to demonstrate their good faith when it came to the Star Trek licence. They worked with DC comics to publish a high-profiled comic book crossover between Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation. They recruited Mike W. Barr and Gordon Purcell to work on the early issues of their Deep Space Nine on-going series. There was a clear sense that they were working hard to cultivate the fan market. Recruiting actors to write for the comics was a nice coup.

Ferengi do not cross one another...

Ferengi do not cross one another…

The Rules of Diplomacy is a rather simplistic story; however, it makes for a nice diversion. It builds on a lot of what came before. It most obviously builds off Nog’s decision to join Starfleet in Heart of Stone, but it also provides an interesting inversion of House of Quark. In House of Quark, the station’s Ferengi barkeep had visited the Klingon homeworld and received a bit of a culture shock. In The Rules of Diplomacy, Nog is asked to oversee a visit by a Klingon to Ferenginar.

The resulting story is fairly paint-by-numbers, as the Klingon comes to respect and appreciate Ferengi culture and Nog struggles to avoid a painful diplomatic incident. Eventually – and inevitably – the two come to realise that they are not as different as they might think. “Without profit, a Ferengi has nothing,” Nog explains. Gronn considers this, before adding, “Without honour, a Klingon has nothing.” It’s nothing new or particularly insightful, but it is a nice little moral.

"Quit screwin' around back there!"

“Quit screwin’ around back there!”

There is very little tension or excitement to The Rules of Diplomacy. It is quite clear where the story is going almost as soon as it begins. However, there’s also quite a charm to it. Eisenberg seems to relish writing for Nog, and the script is packed with nice little touches – from Nog eagerly (and fannishly) playing with comm badge that Sisko gave him through to the glimpse of a Ferengi combat academy. It is a light, affectionate, throw-away story.

However, there is some fun in seeing Eisenberg writing for Nog – giving the character a bit of life beyond the character who appeared on screen. He doesn’t develop Nog as thoroughly or as carefully as Andrew Robinson cultivated Garak in A Stitch in Time, but it’s fairly inoffensive as tie-ins go.

You might be interested in our reviews of the third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:

5 Responses

  1. Nice review. Always interesting to hear about these side entries into the franchise. 🙂

    By sheer coincidence I’m currently reading ‘Dragons in the Archives’ – a short story anthology released to celeberate the 20th anniversay of Dragonlance – and one of the stories (‘The Travelling Player’s of Gilean’) was co-written by Aron Eisenberg. Magaret Weis mentions in the introduction that she had a a ‘fanboy’ moment when they met and she was scrambling for a pen to ask for his autograph when he asked for hers and Tracy Hickman’s!

  2. I didn’t know this existed and will definitely be seeking out a copy!

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