Battles Of Free Comic Book Day Round Four is a curious one. Steam Wars is clearly inspired by Star Wars but is also its own product. Star Trek: The Next Generation is another instalment from a long-established sci-fi franchise which has been a powerhouse for over fifty years.
But can the young upstart bring enough rock and roll to counter the veteran’s classical music? Then again, can Steam Wars provide enough originality to separate it from the Star Wars franchise which it so heavily resembles?
In case anybody mistakenly picked this title up thinking they were getting Star Wars, prepare to be disappointed. Also, if you were hoping for a full-on steampunk version of Star Wars, you’ll be disappointed too. Once you get past the opening scrawl, this tells the story of a group of Free Realms aerial dogfighting aces during a civil war against the Crimson Empire. Their not-quite Y-Wings and X-Wings are facing a challenge as they battle against not-quite TIE Fighters, and…
Okay. So basically it looks like Star Wars. Hell, it practically is Star Wars. There’s even a mechanoid or two on hand. Except it also isn’t Star Wars, and as such it comes across like a mockbuster instead of its own product. While the art is mostly decent (save for the over-use of too many splash pages and oversized panels), the writing has plenty of good ideas but can’t make the most of them.
Star Trek – The Next Generation:
If you think this is for niche fans, you’d be right. However, it’s also the dream of countless Star Trek fans to see the Next Gen crew in the Mirror Universe – the alternate reality where our heroes are the villains. With stunning artwork and impressive writing, intelligently this is told from the perspective of underdog character Reg Barclay.
As Reg goes through his usual duties of engineering, being bullied and assassinating his superior officers (hey, it’s the Mirror U! That’s what they do!), we’re given a unique view of how the ISS Stargazer and its crew function. From the preening Captain Picard and (presumably) Captain’s woman Deanna Troi to the Borg-like mad scientist Data, it’s like Secret Empire for Star Trek fans… and it works so, so well!
There was real hope for Steam Wars, and creator Joe Wight has potential. However, by borrowing too heavily and obviously from Star Wars it’s a real misfire, although may pick up a cult following. In contrast, Star Trek manages to surpass itself entirely, providing one of the best-looking, well-written and intriguing comic books it’s ever produced. There’s a clear winner here and the answer is, as another Star Trek character would say, logical.