You’ll have to pardon me if I seem a bit cynical, but I, like an awful lot of other STAR TREK fans, aren’t exactly all that enamored with Brannon Braga. Yes, as a screenwriter, Braga contributed to some of the THE NEXT GENERATION’s (TNG) legacy, but he also squandered an awful lot of the amassed capital with some horrifically subpar work on STAR TREK: VOYAGER and (even worse) ENTERPRISE, later known as STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE. I won’t belabor the point. I’ll only say that his latest foray into the world of all things Trek gives me the impression that he hasn’t quite learned anything from his days after putting the nail in a much beloved franchise. One can only hope HIVE develops into something a bit more special than what he gave us in this first issue.
(NOTE: The following review will contain spoilers necessary for the discussion of the plot. If you desire only a thumbs up or a thumbs down, then transport yourself down to the last paragraph, and be on your way. Otherwise … prepare to engage!)
Still in command of the Enterprise-E, Captain Jean Luc Picard takes a much deserved holiday with a love interest from the days of his TV adventures. Vash is along for companionship – and we do mean ‘companionship’ as even Vash had admitted that their relationship is only about sex. Still, a fateful whisper in the back of his mind tells the captain that things are amiss somewhere in the galaxy. The Borg have reared their ugly heads again in the Alpha Quadrant, and it’s up to Jean Luc and friends to alert Starfleet that their greatest enemy is coming for …
… for peace?
Maurice Hurley created the Borg in the stellar TNG episode, “Q Who?” Since that introduction, it’s mostly been Braga tinkering and retinkering and re-retinkering and (even) re-re-retinkering with their origins and development. The central premise is that the Borg seek to conquer the galaxy by ‘assimilating’ various species along with the technology and culture into one master race ruled by a Queen and the Hive-mind at her control. By only bugaboo with the Borg is that there never really seemed to be an authentic reason why they’d do this, but methinks that’s why they’re such a great villain: they just do want to do it. Assimilation into the Borg Collective serves to rob the individual of any specific identity, all for the purposes of making the one serve the entire species, and much of it reminds me of today’s progressive Democratic Party. (snicker snicker)
However, with STAR TREK: VOYAGER, Braga and the knuckleheads on his writing team practically devoted the bulk of four seasons into exploring more personally and creatively what the Borg were (how they functioned, where they were mostly from, how they went about their day, etc.) … so much so that, to this viewer, the Borg lost any real ‘teeth.’ With each new adventure, it became easier and easier for the various Starfleet crews to thwart the Borg threat. Granted, a toothless predator is still a predator, but much of the scare is gone. The writers even created Species 8472 – a nemesis that resisted Borg assimilation and, thus, instilled fear into the drone society – which only served to further soften the brutes from emotionless cybernetic hoarders to stock cardboard villainy.
With his new HIVE, Braga seems to have forgotten much of what he’s penned (and supervised) before. He creates yet another all-new species – this one Species 1881, the Voldranaii – who largely function with the exact same backstory as Species 8472 … though they sure have a cooler name! (Ugh.) Then, just as the Borg did when faced with Species 8472, they approach agents of the Federation for the purpose of establishing a ‘compromise’ or a truce under which terms they’d work together with Starfleet. And it even looks like Braga’s decided to revisit characters, themes, and situations he’s plumbed before, bringing Data back into the fold for the purpose of tempting (yet again) the Borg Queen (previously seen in STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT).
Granted, this is only a first issue, and maybe – maybe – I’m being a bit harsh. But I can’t escape the fact that so much of what took place in these pages feels dramatically like a retread of material already developed by Mr. Braga. Will this affect of the story? Well, that’s up to him. Based on his track record, I’m not holding my breath. See, resistance isn’t all that futile, Mr. Braga. TV Trek died, mostly at your hands, due your arrogance and your open refusal to let capable others play in the Trek universe. Whatever dirt you may have on the management at IDW you no doubt pulled out of a drawer and used to get this gig. Now, they’ve given you a chance, so here’s hoping you don’t screw it all up again.
RECOMMENDED definitely for fans of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. Nothing spells cancellation like Brannon Braga, but, despite his participation here, HIVE is worth a read. Clearly, Braga’s lost sight of what he’s penned before as so many elements here harken back to territory and stories already explored in TNG and (especially) STAR TREK: VOYAGER, but, as a Trek enthusiast, I welcome any return to the days of Jean Luc Picard and his crew. I wanted more, but all this delivered was mostly set-up, and nothing all that grand to begin with. Hopefully, Braga’s got something more up his sleeve than this. Only time and further assimilation will tell.