Star Trek: The Next Generation #2
December 16, 2013
Reviewing Star Trek totally in rhyme? What a thought! Oh dear lord, what has this comic wrought...
(Linkara is seen standing in front of his Christmas tree, while wearing a Starfleet uniform and a Santa hat over his normal hat)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to the review series you yearn, called Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Why am I speaking entirely in rhyme? Just be patient, my friends, I'll explain in due time.
(A shot of the comic to be reviewed for today is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Today's story is strange and bizarre. You'd want to throw this comic to a place very far. What comic is this that deserves no veneration? It's issue 2 of "Star Trek: The Next Generation".
(A clip of the Halloween episode of the original Star Trek is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Star Trek and Christmas? That is an odd pair. Star Trek's a show where holidays are rare. There was a silly episode done for Halloween, but that's the original series, where camp was quite keen.
(Cut to footage of The Next Generation)
Linkara (v/o): On The Next Generation, such things were rejected, because Gene Roddenberry thought that the future was perfected. The first two seasons were full of pretension, bad acting, and snob. The characters were arrogant and dumb as a doorknob. There was racism and sexism, but something worse to usher: the smartest boy in the world, known to all as Wesley Crusher. The first two seasons sucked, but there were good episodes, it is true, like "Contagion", "Conspiracy", "Measure of a Man", and "Q Who". But the Enterprise crew of early TNG were not the sort who would celebrate Christmas with glee. They hated the 20th Century like you wouldn't believe, wearing their arrogance upon a tight sleeve. Once upon a time, they found some people frozen in space, who were not quite used to bumpy foreheads on a face. They came from the past, around our time, to be sure, but the Enterprise crew described them like manure. What vile people were they to describe them so sick? A mother, a financier, and some country hick. No mention of apartheid, genocide, or some inhuman elective. Perhaps this crew should gain some perspective.
Linkara: And that's why it's strange they do a Christmas story. You'd think they'd reject Christmas and its green Christmas tree.
Linkara (v/o): "Christmas?" they'd ask, confused by what it all meant. "Ah, yes," they recalled, as if it's a bad scent. "Christmas is the time of greed, of customs appropriated, of commercialism and barbarism and egos inflated. A time of material and money and cold Christmas storms," they would scoff in their tight, crappy uniforms. So, how is this about Christmas, considering the things they would issue?
Linkara: To find out, let's dig into (holds up comic of review for today) "Star Trek: The Next Generation #2".
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has a robotic version of "Let It Snow" playing over it; cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Our cover is okay, from a composition point of view. But the artwork? Well, everything a bit askew. There's a Christmas tree there that is curved near the top, but beneath it, there's Wesley, who has taken a flop. Tasha Yar is there, with her hands behind her back, and for some reason, her legs have gone off track. They're on either side of a guy that does hold her, but her body is curved, as if he means to fold her. His gun is huge and in a shape that's not proper. Hmm, perhaps it's actually a novelty tree topper. And then there's Picard confronting this stranger by striking a pose that's like a Power Ranger. His legs do the splits, and his arm reaches far. It's like he's the opposite of our dear Tasha Yar. Up on the top, it says this is a six-issue mini, which is an odd thing to say and makes me quite grinny. This story is done in one, not part two of six, but my definition of yours may just not quite mix. If it is all one story, it just seems like a bad call to have a Christmas wrap here making the bigger story stall. I've seen this before in another show, it's true: in the middle of a master plan on old Doctor Who. (the comic opens to the first page) We open, as we often do, out somewhere in space.
Linkara: (sarcastically) In Star Trek, of all things? What an odd case!
Linkara (v/o): A ball of red that looks like fiery fur is chased by a spaceship that looks strange for sure. We cut to the Enterprise as it soars around stars, since starships are just giant interstellar cars. On the bridge, the night watch is taking their shift, the crew hoping that none will feel at all miffed. They're on their way to Starbase, but the holiday season has hit. And I see, more so than usual, the uniforms are a tight fit. I did not need to see the crew's pecs so defined.
Linkara: And wearing one now, these things are not at all kind.
Linkara (v/o): Riker is in charge of the bridge on this night, and he anticipates that there shall not be a fight.
Riker: It's traditionally a quiet evening... galaxy wide.
Linkara (v/o): So they can look back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Oh, wait, "galaxy wide"? Are we supposed to buy this? The entire universe celebrates Christmas? And yet, that is the case, Worf here observes, our friendly Klingon throwing us these swerves...
Worf: My Klingon people celebrate the coming of our gods this season as well.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, the Klingons have a Christmas? Gee, ain't that just swell.
Linkara: But that statement seems odd, considering something I remember. (looks up in thought)
(A clips of Worf on the show is shown)
Worf: Our gods are dead. Ancient Klingon warriors slew them on millennia ago.
Linkara: Well, I bet that makes for an awkward December.
Linkara (v/o): Picard doesn't like parties, but feels he must make an appearance. Being Star Trek, it's not Jesus he worships, but noninterference. As Picard, Geordi, Data, Troi and Yar all head to a soiree, something new comes in for those who must stay. They detect an alien ship and they send out a hail, hoping the aliens are also fans of wassail. But the ship is hit by the red thing from before, making them lose power for a second or four. Picard is nervous about this, but Troy puts his fears at bay. He must be at the party, or the crew's fears will hold sway.
Linkara: And what comfort that shall be, for those who hear the news, that, while the ship was in danger, the captain sipped booze.
Linkara (v/o): Riker extends greeting to the alien ship and their captain named Bronder. But something about this captain does make me ponder. There's something about him. Hmm, I need a memory enhancer. Wait! Holy crap, it's the Ninja-Style Dancer!
Linkara: Wow! (looks offscreen) You were in a Star Trek comic? Your star must be climbing!
(The Ninja-Style Dancer is seen, holding up a sign reading, "I'm not doing this. I'm not doing the rhyming.")
Linkara (v/o): Riker invites Bronder, whose eyes look a bit cross, to come on over and have cranberry sauce, for this a time of celebration and joy, and hopefully not for the aliens to destroy. Bronder accepts, and they'll be over in thirty.
Linkara: I don't have a rhyme, (holds up a pterodactyl toy and shakes it up and down, making it flap its wings) so, hey, look at the birdie!
Bronder: We accept your generous invitation.
Linkara (v/o): ...said the alien and ninja combined.
Bronder: And we look forward to absorbing all we can from your kind.
(Linkara has fallen asleep, but is startled awake)
Linkara: Hmm? What? Oh, sorry, I was feeling a bit sleepy. Did he just say something incredibly creepy?
(Patricia Bickley is seen, getting dressed (in pink) and looking at some mirror... perfume-spraying... thing)
Linkara (v/o): We cut to the crew and... Dear Lord, what is that thing? Oh, not her dress. It's a party; she dresses to swing. I mean that thing that she's holding. Is it a mirror? Why is she trying to hold it much nearer? It's like a showerhead with a perfume bottle on one end. Is it deodorant? A sex toy? I can't comprehend! And over to Tasha, whose clothes are not quite as sheer, but she's still decked out in leather bondage gear. She thinks to herself about faith held back by her duties. And for the fashion inclined, take a look at her booties. And then it's over to a couple of people I don't know. Red shirts, probably. I can't wait for them to go. The one in her undies goes by the name of "Bickley". Her husband says she throws tantrums, so ain't he a dicky. And then of course, over to the most important on the crew: Wesley Crusher! Oh, what a piece of poo.
Wesley: (to his mother, Beverly) But, Ma...! Do I have to go to this dull old party?
Linkara (v/o): I'm sure when he sees Tasha, he'll feel much more hearty. Then over to Geordi and Data in their own festive attire, with outfits that should probably also burn in a fire. These clothes are as colorful as the fish known as platies. Can you tell that this comic was made in the '80s? It's Data's in particular that really makes me think: a vest with no shirt and tight pants that are pink. Geordi says...
Geordi: You look fine, Data--now just relax!
Linkara: It's not every day you can be on (makes a "finger quote") "When Fashion Attacks".
Data: But I'm always nervous at human gatherings.
Linkara (v/o): ...Data says in response.
Linkara: Um, Data has no feelings. He should possess nonchalance.
Linkara (v/o): They all gather at the holodeck with mirth, joy and cheer. And the artist must have thought Data was stereotypically queer. Or is there a reason why his leg is extended on the flat ground? Data feeling up his own thigh? This image does confound. Yet, Wesley's got it worse than Yar, Data or Troi. Dr. Crusher's dressed him up like a little sailor boy. Geordi ruffles his hair, as if he was eight and not age fifteen, trying to get some merriment out of the little sardine.
Geordi: Wesley-- just turn around and enjoy the view!
Linkara: That's his mother in front of him. You make me want to spew.
Linkara (v/o): Inside the holodeck is a winter wonderland. Wesley calls it cool, which Data does not understand. You'd think, given the snow, he'd assumed he meant cold. But then, this joke is so lame, I can't be consoled. Wesley says it means "swell" or "keen" or even "stupe-fragged".
Linkara: That last one in particular made my face feel all sagged.
Linkara (v/o): The Bickleys live up to their name, as they shout, fight and bicker, but all I can do is sit here and snicker. Gene Roddenberry, you see, said that in the future, humans don't fight. Not each other, anyway. They're always polite. "We've evolved," he would say, so that's on everything we agree.
Linkara: Meaning the future is drier and less diverse than potpourri.
Linkara (v/o): But it would seem the comic's writers had the gall to say "Screw that" and reject that stupid call. If there is no conflict, then there is no drama, meaning they might as well replace everyone with a llama. In the transporter room, Picard and Yar greet Bronder and friends, and to those five aliens, his hand he extends. They say their race is the Creeg, and Picard is at first offended, his handshake request has been sorely upended. Yar suggests that it must not be their way. You'd think it would be the diplomat who'd know what to say. They walk down a hall, and Wesley seizes his chance to escape from the party without his mom's glance. But following the boy is the red thing from before, shrunken now to fit inside of the corridor. One of Bronder's men senses the red thing and its trail. Or perhaps it's sensed Wesley and the odor of fail. The man runs into Wesley, having lost track of the red, and believes he's followed the boy and has been misled. He says it's not him and he "misread his forced-aura".
Linkara: Did you know that (points to Santa hat over his fedora) my hat might not be a fedora?
Linkara (v/o): Wesley follows him back, suspicious of this meeting. I suspect that soon Wesley will receive a beating. Although, I am more suspicious of the artwork on this man. Of confused proportions and spines, I'm not a fan. His arm is extended completely behind him, in an uncomfortable way, even for a hind limb. The way his clothes work is the same on either side. And for a moment, I felt quite a bit terrified. His head appeared, and I don't mean to displease, to have spun around 180 degrees. Wesley wonders why he was allowed to walk off on his own and goes to the Captain to complain and to moan. The Captain, you see, is holding an invisible cup while he tells Wesley to kindly shut up. But Wesley explains the whole thing to Picard, who asks Bronder about this particular regard. Bronder tries to say they're looking for something odd. And the way he explains makes it sound like it's God.
Bronder: Aren't we all searching for that entity...
Linkara: Wait, are you Lord Vyce? Is that your identity?
Bronder: ...the one we try to model all our actions after...
Linkara: The actions I make are about causing laughter. Does that mean I model myself on Louis C.K.? Or perhaps it's more probably MST3K.
Linkara (v/o): They were on the trail of the thing when they saw the Enterprise-D, and it might explain the power surge idiosyncrasy. Data and Geordi are ordered to scan the deck from these hills, while Counselor Troi looks like she needs some headache pills. The two find nothing, and Wesley's fears are discarded, and he leaves in a huff, looking brokenhearted. Troi follows after and says she thinks something is wrong, all while she wears her big pink sarong. But they have no proof of anything sinister.
Linkara: Wait, if this is Christmas, does the ship have a minister?
Linkara (v/o): One of the aliens followed after Troi and Wesley, and now he is feeling more than a bit testy.
Alien: You, woman, you have sensed the power as we did!
Linkara: It's hard to rhyme with dialogue, so... something, something, she-squid.
Alien: Because we are here to take the spirit from you!
Linkara: They're here to steal Christmas, or did I misconstrue?
Linkara (v/o): On the bridge, there is an officer who was named Skooch. If this keeps going on, I'm gonna need some more hooch. Skooch tells Riker that there is an energy drain, and it's caused by the aliens! How inhumane. The power goes out again, killing the light, allowing little Wesley to put up a fight. He knocks the alien over, rendering him dazed, so that Troi can read his mind. Well, I'm amazed. Troi's not a full telepath, if I may point out. Apparently, the writer didn't know what she was about. She was an empath, a reader of feelings, which was not often used in diplomatic dealings. Anyway, the alien pushes her aside. She won't steal his force, he notified. He tells Bronder that they tried to drain him, whatever that means, and Bronder beams over guns to blow them to smithereens. Geordi and Yar knock three out, and I must be admitting, it doesn't feel like Christmas until there's some hitting. Picard tells Bronder to lay down his gun. In only two seconds, he's been overrun. Bronder surrenders and admits their wrongdoing. But their instruments have found the entity they were pursuing. The entity appeared to have gone into the ship, but if the Enterprise can't find it, it may have given them the slip. But Troi can still sense it, and it's powerful at that. And then Geordi tosses a guy like a dead rat. Suddenly, the red thing flies from the chest of the android. Why did it do that? Eh, maybe it was paranoid. Geordi's visor sees it better than anyone else can. And to him, it resembles a skinny old man. With this, Bronder and the Creeg reveal their true appearance, and it's at this point where we lose all coherence. We knew they were green, but look at their hair! This comic truly is something extraordinaire.
Linkara: And now you see why I've been rhyming in a pinch. Our enemy this time is none other than the Grinch!
Linkara (v/o): And not just one Grinch, as it would seem, but an entire race of them! Is this a dream? Do they all have dogs that are named Max? Are their shoes made too tight and need to relax? I have so many questions, so many things I must know, but those must wait, for we need to get on with the show. The shirtless Grinches approach the spirit, and Picard calls this strange.
Linkara: Captain, you don't know the half of it. My mind must rearrange.
Linkara (v/o): The spirit is invisible to all but Geordi's vision. His visor allows him to see with precision. The spirit's shape changes, gaining more mass, and the writers have new insanity they've pulled from their ass. Does that shape look familiar, with its beard and its belt? I swear that this comic will make my brain melt.
Linkara: If that earlier revelation didn't give you pause, just remember, the Grinches are hunting Santa Claus!
Linkara (v/o): The spirit attacks Bronder, going for his chest, I would say. It seems the Grinch's heart was smashed three times that day. The spirit leaves Bronder, and Picard orders Geordi and Yar to pursue, but Data insists that they not follow through. He says it spreads something wonderful with what him it was in. If he was not an android, he would certainly grin. Another Grinch wants to follow the spirit himself, looking kind of like an oversized, hairy, green elf. Bronder stands up and tells the other to give it a rest. After all, he's nothing more than an invited guest. Picard briefly wonders if this is some kind of trick, but Bronder seems done with being a prick.
Bronder: Captain--, --it was wonderful!
Linkara (v/o): ...Bronder does proudly proclaim, and that is a statement that I could never disclaim. Just look at that smile all over his face. (...which is rather menacing, with his teeth gnashed and his eyes angry) That is the look of utter calm and grace. Bronder orders his ship to let them have power, still giving off his reverence, smile and/or glower. Geordi and the Grinches lead the search for Santa Claus, exploring other Christmas parties that would make us all pause. One party has people standing on their heads.
Linkara: I'm starting to think that I have gone off of my meds.
Linkara (v/o): Another has more green aliens in skimpy bikinis.
Linkara: Running out of rhymes again, (holds up some Beanie Babies) so here are some Beanies.
Linkara (v/o): Wherever the spirit travels, it brings merriment and laughter, though for me, it brings confusion for this comic hereafter. These parties are made for specific alien groups, but the sheer numbers of each make me say, "Whoops!" I think the creators thought there were more species on the ship than actually hung around to make the long trip. Do they all have a holiday occurring at once? What about planets with less than twelve months? But whatever, there's still silliness to be found. Santa is on the bridge, just hanging around. Santa is weakened and appearing quite frail, though we can't really see him in that much detail. The Grinch from before moves closer to the jolly form.
Linkara: I hope this ends soon; I want out of this uniform!
Linkara (v/o): He absorbs part of Santa into his chest and now wishes only for the very best. He says the spirit is dying and needs their help bad. Data says it needs love. This plot point is bad. It is ridiculous and stupid for reasons a-plenty, although, admittedly, that number is a bit less than twenty. The suggestion comes from Data, just for a start, who, to use an analogy, possesses no heart. He does not possess the feeling called love and would sooner suggest throwing a dove. On top of that, Santa created joyous attitudes. How can he be saved by the thing he exudes? It's all rather silly, but by this point, it's normal; we have alien Grinches, and Santa's paranormal. Riker looks at this scene with confusion and fear, asking...
Riker: What the hell's going on around here?
Linkara (v/o): It seems even the captain believes in this spiritual Claus. Why has he done so? Well... just because. Santa grows larger as Geordi stares.
Linkara: This feels like something straight out of "Care Bears".
Linkara (v/o): In return for his strength, fully restored back, Santa once more uses his special attack. It goes through both ships, filling everyone with glee. Now, even the Grinches want some holiday jubilee. Worf tells the captain they even mentioned gifts.
Linkara: Knowing Star Trek, they are probably time rifts.
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with the ships on their way, so that the joy of the season was felt on this day. There is fun and benevolence and holiday cheer.
Picard: (narrating) I only hope it lasts into the new year.
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic is weird in more ways than one, but I've got to admit, it is kind of fun.
Linkara (v/o): Grinches chase Santa for reasons unclear, and everyone in the galaxy has a holiday they adhere. So many questions left unanswered, it seems, about Grinches and Santas who help self-esteems. Come to think of it, were the Grinches the mean ones at all? They just wanted some spirit to feel much more tall. The Enterprise was Whoville and Christmas without tags, Christmas without ribbons, packages, boxes or bags. I started this review by saying the early days of this show certainly had themselves a long way to go. I thought they'd hate Christmas, commercialism and all, but maybe they knew it's not about things financial.
Linkara: Maybe Christmas, they knew, didn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. (beat) I'm still giving out presents, if you must know. (puts down comic and leaves)
(The robotic version of "Let It Snow" from earlier plays)
(Editor's note: "The original end credits song you're hearing was created by another youtuber and I played the visuals to it in said credits. Since ContentID didn't catch anything wrong with it, I didn't want to risk accidentally claiming THEIR video as mine, so no end credits here.")