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Star Trek (IDW, 2009) #15-16 – Mirrored (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

The mirror universe is a fun concept.

Over the run of the franchise, quite divorced from the context of Mirror, Mirror, the mirror universe itself is an excuse to go big; to indulge in hammy and silly behaviour. There’s no need to worry about putting the toys back in the box, or even the general philosophy of the franchise as a whole. Appropriately enough, it becomes a place where you can do almost anything you might imagine with no real consequences. Writers get to do big space opera stuff, actors get to munch on the scenery.

All hail the empire...

All hail the empire…

There is a reason that the most giddy and indulgent fan service from the already giddy and fan-service-filled fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise was the two-parter set in the mirror universe. Indeed, Mirrored arguably borrows more from In a Mirror, Darkly than it does from Mirror, Mirror. The entire two-part story is launched from a casual conjectural conversation between Scotty and McCoy – suggesting that this might just be some flight of fancy. Indeed, the story cuts to the mirror universe as Scotty asks McCoy about “the worst timeline [he] can imagine.”

Mirrored is a very silly, very disposable story. It combines the weird fascination with alternate universes that runs through IDW’s monthly Star Trek series with the fixation on the events of JJ Abrams’ franchise-launching reboot. The result does not rank with the best mirror universe stories ever told, feeling too indulgent for its own good.

A cutting retort...

A cutting retort…

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Star Trek – Mirror Images (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

There has always been something rather strange about IDW’s Star Trek publishing line. How does the company decide what ideas got to print? What indicators do they look at in order to determine that one concept is worth exploration, but another is not? Basing the monthly on-going comic series around JJ Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek universe makes a great deal of sense, as does commissioning D.C. Fontana to write Year Four – The Enterprise Experiment. However, there is a sense that a lot of their output comes from throwing darts at boards.

For example, comics based on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine have been confined to miniseries or arcs of the on-going monthly series; this seems odd, given that the market buying comics books would have been at the perfect age to feel nostalgia for them. However, miniseries like Intelligence Gathering or Assimilation2 are given as much prominence as strange alternate universe stories as The Last Generation or Mirror Images.

Pained leadership...

Pained leadership…

It isn’t that The Last Generation or Mirror Images aren’t interesting, at least on paper. While the execution in both cases might leave a little to be desired, there are interesting stories to be told in the classic “what if…” comic book style. However, it is hard to believe that there is as much demand for the four-issue story of mirror!Kirk taking command of the I.S.S. Enterprise and killing mirror!Pike as there is to see Data or Odo or Picard again. Given the success that IDW has enjoyed resurrecting The X-Files, it would seem nineties nostalgia is out there.

There is an argument to be made that the classic crew is currently more popular and iconic than any of the spin-offs, largely thanks to the recent cinematic reboot. However, is there really so much demand for a story based around Christopher Pike that four issues of mirror!Pike scheming demand to published?

Only logical...

Only logical…

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Star Trek – Mirror, Mirror (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

Mirror, Mirror is rightfully iconic.

It is a Star Trek episode that spawned sequels on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and a prequel on Star Trek: Enterprise. It codified the whole idea of a “mirror universe” in popular culture, to the point where audiences readily accept the idea of an entire world populated with evil (and possibly sexy) counterparts to our characters. Shows as diverse as Doctor Who and South Park have played with the concept. Indeed, “evil alternate universe doppelganger has a goatee” is a recognisable trope.

... And that was the last time Koenig tried to upstage Shatner...

… And that was the last time Koenig tried to upstage Shatner…

There is a strange irony to all this. The mirror universe is an absurd concept for a number of reasons, and that absurdity is only heightened when it becomes more and more iconic. Turning the idea into a recognisable television cliché inevitably simplifies it. Although Mirror, Mirror is very camp – in the same way that a lot of classic Star Trek is camp – it is a story that has a lot of interesting and clever things to say. These tend to get sanded off through imitation and repetition. (For example, despite wearing the “evil goatee”, mirror!Spock is “a man of integrity.”)

And yet, behind the striking iconic production design and the admittedly absurd premise, Mirror, Mirror ranks as one of the best and most insightful scripts of classic Star Trek. It represents a cautionary tale and critical examination of some of the show’s core tendencies.

Bringing the pain...

Bringing the pain…

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Non-Review Review: Mirror, Mirror

With Mirror, Mirror, director Tarsem Singh’s record remains unbroken. He’s still a director with a unique and appealing visual style that is struggling to find a proper output. Here, Singh’s stylish direction struggles against a somewhat tired premise and lazy script, managing to create a feast for the eyes that feels strangely lacking in substance. It’s a bit disappointing, if only because there are some interesting and fascinating ingredients, but they’re overwhelmed by tired cliché, a weak central performance, and a script that feels like it was filmed on the first draft.

Belle Swan...

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