Star Trek: Starfleet Academy #1
Marvel/Paramount Comics (December, 1996)
WRITER: Chris Cooper
PENCILER: Chris Renaud
INKER: Andy Lanning
COLORIST: Kevin Somers
LETTERER: Jim Novak
EDITOR: Bobbie Chase
During Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Nog leaves to attend Starfleet Academy and become the first Ferengi in Starfleet. This series follows him and his team, Omega Squadron. Kamilah Goldstein, a daughter of Israeli and Palestian decent (they learned to get along in the future), is squad leader. Nog also meets Pava Ek’Noor, an Andorian who gets the wrong idea about females in Ferengi culture and takes it out on Nog when he misunderstands her showing up naked in his room. Then there’s Matt Decker, a hothead who isn’t happy that he isn’t teaming with his best friend Yoshi and already doesn’t like Ferengi. Guess who Nog’s roommate is. Finally, there’s the Vulcan T’Priell, who has a secret I won’t spoil here though it is mentioned in the story. On their first training simulation Nog had tried to introduce a new program that he hoped would get him fame and profit but was incompatible with the holodeck systems. However, his attempt to delete it turned the computer sentient for a brief time and the team has to work together to survive. This earns Decker’s respect from Nog, since not everyone makes a computer sentient (they’re just the stories that make it to TV).
What they got right: I like the concept here. While we’ve seen a few episodes with Wesley Crusher at the Academy nobody’s made a series about being in Starfleet Academy, not even a Harry Potter clone, as of this writing. Using Nog’s entry from DS9 is a perfect in for the concept and the characters selected make for good conflict while also not making any member of the team terrible people. We see that not everyone is willing to accept Nog in Starfleet but Decker will at least stand up for him when a bully tries to push him around despite not liking Ferengi himself. As a bonus Boothby, who has shown up in numerous Academy-set episodes as the groundskeeper who always seems to know everything going on around him, is going to be a part of the story and it makes me wish Ray Walston was still alive to continue portraying the character. (Not that it matters with the Prime timeline mind you but if we ever get a series set in the classic timeline’s 24th century and at Starfleet HQ he will be missed by not being there.) Commander Zhud, the instructor for Omega Squadron, is also a good mentor for the team, at least thus far.
What they got wrong: So we’re jumping right into the “holodeck malfunctions and tries to kill everyone” cliché? Get it over with I guess, and the computer gaining temporary sentience is a new twist but it’s been done too often. And Decker still has the hidden transponder on him? You’d think he would have removed it since it wasn’t needed, or perceived so until this story’s plot. Also, 90s Marvel art. Never been a fan. Finally, did the writer forget that Earth and Starfleet don’t use currency, thanks to Roddenberry’s (hypocritical if you know some of the shenanigans he’s pulled) vision of the future? I know Nog, being a Ferengi, would find that difficult to believe, except he’s been friends with Jake Sisko long enough to know this is the case and he still wanted to join the Academy. However, the story starts with Decker and Yoshi dealing with a drug dealer who is working for profit by giving a mental steroid to cadets…for money. Where are they getting it?
Recommendation: This is a great introduction to the series and I remember really enjoying it as something the comics were doing that the shows weren’t, rather than another non-canon tie-in to an active series. It’s worth checking out to decide if you want to catch the whole series.