A part of me wanted to write about how this story deals with the issues of the nuclear arms race and also the conflicting nature of the Hippocratic Oath in the context of war, until I realised that this is basically Star Trek and I have to admit that I am really not a huge fan of Star Trek. Okay, I do watch the odd movie that makes its way to the screen (including the three reboots that have arisen over the last few years), and I have also watched all of Deep Space 9 and quite a few of The Next Generation (and Star Trek Voyager) but in the end it still comes down to the fact that it is Star Trek, which while it is a science-fiction adventure, it is set in this semi-utopian future that basically wants to make me sick.
Anyway, I found this comic book (I am not going to dignify this book with the title graphic novel, namely because in my mind graphic novels tend to be much more sophisticated than was is in effect a licensed form of fan fiction with pretty pictures that probably would never find themselves in an art gallery – well, that's probably being a little harsh because the Schirn in Frankfurt did have an exhibition on the beginnings of the comic strip, but then again we are talking about really, really early comics, not something that has appeared in 1994) when I was in Sydney and staying in a hotel across the road from a comic book store that looked like it was trying to clear out all of its stock. Anyway, after a brief scan of its contents the only things that caught my attention were a couple of Star Trek comics and a Judge Dredd annual.
This adventure is set sometime between Star Trek V and Star Trek VI and is around the time that Sulu (aka George Takai – the guy that posts all of those funny Twitter and Facebook posts) got his first command. Actually, the writer of the comic in the afterword spent three pages carrying on about how it was unfair that it took Sulu so long to actually become the captain of a star ship and that by the time he did the series had effectively come to an end. Well, I suspect the reason had more to do with Hollywood being Hollywood as opposed to any really deep character development – Star Trek has always been Star Trek, and of the seven years of the Next Generation series, Picard was always captain and Ryker was always XO. Well, maybe in some of the movies he did land up with a promotion, but as far as I am concerned, in the world of television bugetry constraints, cash flow, and ratings always seems to trump character development.
I did mention that this story does explore the issue of the arms race, but the arms race, especially in the modern era where we have developed weapons that have the capacity of destroying all life on Earth, is something on which lots and lots of ink has been spilt. The other subject was much more interesting and that is the nature of the Hippocratic Oath – does a doctor take sides in a war, and if a doctor treats an enemy soldier are they committing treason? The problem is that doctors (or at least those portrayed in literature) tend to hold the sanctity of human life above politics. Organisations like the Red Cross are facing these ethical dilemmas in places like Syria and Afghanistan – if they treat terrorists are they partaking in terrorism? Further, hospitals are being viewed as important pieces of infrastructure and modern belligerents are becoming more willing to target these institutions in an effort to disrupt the enemy's capacity to wage war. However, the thing with modern warfare is that the boundary between the enemy and the civilian is becoming ever more blurred, but then the concept of the guerrilla war is not necessarily something new – Napoleon and Hitler had to deal with insurgents, it is just that we in the west are beginning to find ourselves on the other side of the fence.