Fans have waited seventeen years for the continuation of Jean-Luc Picard’s story. Now, it’s finally here. As a prequel to next year’s Star Trek: Picard series, the comic Star Trek: Picard Countdown marks the first canon appearance of Jean-Luc Picard since 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. And it delivers.
The comic takes inspiration from 2009’s Star Trek Countdown, a prequel comic series to Star Trek ‘09. Star Trek: Picard Countdown follows a similar story to 2009’s Countdown. Both involve a supernova that threatens to destroy the Romulan homeworld. There are notable changes in the timeline of events and of the status of certain characters between the two, which indicates that 2009’s Countdown is no longer canon, or exists only in the Kelvin timeline.
“The man who risked everything for us”
We begin Star Trek: Picard Countdown Issue #1 on Earth 2386, seven years after Nemesis. A pair of Romulans examine the vineyard of Chateau Picard as they remark how out of place they feel. However, they now have nowhere else to go and owe “The man who risked everything for us.” This man, presumably, is Picard. This also indicates that by 2386, Romulus has indeed been destroyed and that a number of them have relocated to Earth.
We are then taken back one year to 2385, to the Utopia Planitia Shipyards, the place the Enterprise-D was constructed. Geordi La-Forge, now a Commander, speaks with an Andorian about the newest wave of ships that are on their way to Romulan space. Here we see the Starfleet personnel sporting the new uniforms recently unveiled at Destination Star Trek. A notable return to the style of uniform seen in Star Trek: Voyager and Deep Space Nine, with some alterations.
Picard, now an Admiral commanding the U.S.S. Verity, contacts Geordi. They discuss the construction of a fleet relocation ships that will resettle the Romulan people away from the impending supernova. Although the cataclysmic event is over a year away, the clock is ticking. They discuss the Enterprise and remark that she is in “good hands,” purposely not revealing it’s new captain.
Although the new captain of the USS Enterprise-E is not revealed, we can speculate who it may be. Judging by Picard and La Forge’s comments, we can speculate it must be Worf. Thanks to a recent exhibit this year, we know that Worf was a Commander by 2381. This leaves him in the perfect place to assume the captaincy of the Enterprise, following Picard’s departure.
We are then shown the exterior of the U.S.S. Verity, a new class of ship only ever before seen in the game Star Trek: Online (STO). This ship is the same class as the game’s future Enterprise-F, the Odyssey-class. STO is not canon, so to see something from the game crossover to the Prime timeline is very exciting.
The Romulan Situation
Unsurprisingly, the Romulans are less than helpful in assisting Starfleet with the relocation effort. They even refrained from informing Starfleet of the supernova until Starfleet intercepted Romulan communications. Nevertheless, they agreed to accept Starfleet’s help, albeit with minor trust issues, which are still ongoing.
We are then introduced to Lieutenant Commander Raffi Musiker, a central character in the upcoming Star Trek: Picard series. In the comic, she serves as his first officer onboard the Verity. Actress Michelle Hurd will play Raffi in the show, but it’s not clear what has changed between them. The two have a friendly rapport (Raffi calls Picard “JL”) indicating the two have worked together for some time. Picard describes Musiker as “Starfleet’s foremost analyst on Romulan affairs”. This could give us an idea of why Picard recruits her in the upcoming show.
The Verity makes her way to Yuyat Beta, a thought to be an uninhabited colony of ten thousand Romulans, to assist in relocation. As Picard remarks, the entire situation is riddled with “Secrets within secrets.” Picard and Musiker beam down to Yuyat Beta alone, at the request of Athus, Major-Domus to the Governor or Yuyat Beta. Picard and Musiker are then introduced to Governor Shiana who is immediately distrusting of Picard and questions his intentions.
The Hero of the Federation
Shiana mockingly addresses Picard as the “…hero of the Federation”. This suggests that by 2385, Picard has become a legendary figure not only in the Federation but also on other worlds. No doubt tales of his defeat of the Borg at Sector 001 in Star Trek: First Contact and countless other threats have spread across the quadrant. As the man spearheading the Romulan resettlement effort, Shiana is skeptical of a man with such fame, not sure of his intentions, even though we the audience know Picard wants nothing but to help the Romulans.
This story wouldn’t be a proper reintroduction to Picard without a moral dilemma at its center. As Picard walks through a vineyard on the planet, he discovers that a non-Romulan native population of millions also inhabits the planet. The Romulans consider them primitives, so they purposely failed to mention this native population to Starfleet.
Picard confronts Governor Shiana about the native population. He says his mandate is to “ensure the relocation of all sentient life endangered by the supernova.” He follows up by refusing to relocate the Romulans until he can assess the population in its entirety. As such, he places his morals above the wishes of Starfleet. Shiana takes offense at this and imprisons Picard and Musiker, saying she will have to find her own means of taking refuge on the Verity.
This decision to protect life against all odds falls in line with Picard’s character from The Next Generation. In The Measure of a Man, Picard defends Commander Data’s right to choose when a Starfleet scientist wants to perform a dangerous procedure on Data. Picard even risked his career to protect the innocent Ba’Ku in Star Trek: Insurrection, a decision that defied Starfleet’s orders. Picard’s moral fortitude may come at odds with Starfleet in the coming issues, leading him to become disillusioned with his career.
What comes next?
Trapped in a cell, Picard questions his decision to trust the Romulans and his belief that they could be redeemed. Picard has now risked Starfleet’s peaceful relationship with the Romulans as the threat of the cataclysm looms closer and closer.
Overall, a very exciting reintroduction to Picard and the Star Trek Universe post-Nemesis. How this high-stakes mission will lead Picard to abandon Starfleet and live a life of solitude on Earth can only be answered by Star Trek Picard Countdown Issue #2, hitting store shelves next month.
The next issue of Star Trek: Picard Countdown releases December 18th. You can check out our video review of this comic via our YouTube channel later today.