There's a page about half way through issue 3 of The Q Conflict that I was struck by how silly the whole affair had become, and that's about when a few other problems crept in on an otherwise enjoyable read.
The crews of the O.G. Enterprise, Voyager, Defiant, and Enterprise E are chasing each other around, trying to play capture the flag. With giant flags, held up by drones, floating about in space.
The only thing that stopped me from laughing was the earnestness that Davi Messina's excellent pencils portrayed on all of the different crew members faces- they're all in it to win, despite the inherit silliness of the contest.
That contest, of course, being a battle of wills between the god-level antagonists of Star Trek, namely the petulant Q, the haughty Trelane, Ayelborne, and Metron. Each entity has chosen a captain to champion them, and picked a crew for each captain round-robin style.
The first two issues were pretty thrilling, with Ryker outwitting Picard, and many of the different crew interactions bringing a smile to my face. Kirk's acceptance of Worf was absolutely spot on, and there's a lot to love in the narrative.
This third issue slows down a bit, with half of the issue bogged down by arguments between the galactic heavy hitters. As a single issue, that's not such a great thing, but in the overall narrative of the story it works, especially the way Picard and Q keep squabbling with each other.
Scott Tipton and David Tipton write Q and Picard like a long-divorced couple, trying to deal with each other at their child's wedding, and holy hell does it work.
Metron and Ayelborne are greatly troubled by Trelane, who carries on like a child- and they have every right to be. Half way through the game of capture the flag, Trelane gets bored and brings in a major menace from the original series to shake things up.
The art from Messina, inker Elisabetta D'Amico, and colorist Alessandra Alexakis is top notch, and while the likenesses are not all dead-on, you know exactly who you are looking at every time they're on panel. And the way the art crew captures Trelane and Q is top-shelf stuff- Trelane in particular is so smug you just want to smack him, and it's perfect.
The only real problem with this issue is how much it feels like the perfect union of a Next Generation filler episode and an Original Series wacky-times episode: There's a whole lot of standing around and talking, and then next thing you know they're playing catch the flag with tractor beams.
But, you know what? It still feels like authentic Star Trek, and I'll take that any day of the week.
And I'm getting that alternate cover of the Enterprise and Defiant tattooed on my back.
SUMMARY: Script: Scott Tipton and David Tipton; Pencils: David Messina; Inks: Elisabetta D'Amico; Colors: Alessandra Alexakis; Letters: Neil Uyetake; Editor: Chase Marotz; Published By: IDW Publishing; Release Date: April 17, 2019; Cover Price: $3.99; 34 pages.