"Mirrors & Smoke" gives us a too-brief peek at the Mirror Universe's Janeway and Voyager

Writer: Paul Allor, Artist/Cover: J.K. Woodward, Letterer: Neil Uyetake.

"Star Trek Voyager: Mirrors & Smoke" virgin variant cover by J.K. Woodward

Since members of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew accidentally discovered the Mirror Universe in The Original Series episode ‘Mirror, Mirror,” other Star Trek shows and comics have ventured there, but Star Trek: Voyager wasn’t one of them…until now.

IDW’s one-shot “Mirrors & Smoke” introduces us to a very different Katherine Janeway, especially on one variant cover that is designed as a recruitment poster, featuring Janeway as Pirate Queen in a heroic pose, with Voyager flying over her bandoleer/sashed shoulder, and the headline: “Join Janeway! Plunder and Profit.”

For those who aren’t familiar with the Mirror Universe, it is an alternate reality that is a literal ethical mirror image to the universe we know. There, the Federation is much like the Klingons and Romulans, who conquer and plunder like Star Vikings. Their fashion sense favors sleeveless tops for officers to show how ripped and powerful they are, most female crewmembers bare their midriffs for sex appeal, and male crew often sport goatees, a feature that was established in TOS to help distinguish “Good Spock” from “Evil Spock.” This Voyager features a bandana-ed Commander Chakotay, a ponytailed Ensign Kim, and a shorthaired Captain Janeway.

The painted art of J.K. Woodward has been an IDW Star Trek mainstay for years, especially in other Mirror sagas like the excellent recent series “Mirror Broken” featuring Picard and TNG crew (the other Star Trek tv show never to visit to Mirror Universe). His art here continues to feature solid likenesses of all the actors from Trek, and the same grayish, desaturated color palette he has used for other Mirror tales. In less talented hands, Woodward’s loose, watercolor-y style wouldn’t lend itself to illustrating hard-edged starships and ship consoles, but J.K. continues to impress. There is very little to complain about with his art.

In this one-shot, the crew of the Voyager have divorced themselves from the “failing Empire,” fleeing the Klingon/Cardassian invaders who would enslave them if they returned. They are content to pillage and plunder in deep space, which is a nice parallel to Voyager's far-from-home adventures in our universe. There, they find the unlikeliest of finds: a human female in a shuttle. A human female that another ship, captained by this universe’s version of Neelix, has trapped in their tractor beam. In mid-battle, they manage to beam her aboard, then disable the other ship. Then, over the course of a few days, it’s as if Voyager itself is rebelling against the crew. Is Voyager’s new guest to blame? Have they seen the last of Neelix? There is plenty of action here, with space battles and in-ship fight scenes, including a more physically kickass side of Janeway than we ever saw on the tv show.

For a one-shot story, I expected the issue to be longer and accomplish more story-wise; it’s a pretty basic, one-dimensional tale that seems to end much too quickly. It needed a subplot and another 10-12 pages to be satisfying. Although, it does end with a tantalizing “Let’s go find the Borg.” Be careful what you wish for, Janeway.

Star Trek Voyager: Mirrors & Smoke from IDW is on sale December 11, 2019.

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