Star Trek was changed forever by one problem
The Star Trek series has been reluctant to tackle religion, but IDW's new series is confronting it in a whole new way.
Warning: contains spoilers for Star Trek #4!
The Star Trek universe is forever changing, and it's all thanks to one problem -- one the series has long been reluctant to address. In IDW Publishing's new flagship Star Trek comic, Captain Benjamin Sisko and his crew have been tracking the mysterious Godslayer, and in the fourth issue, Sisko questions what it means to be a god. The Star Trek franchise has long been reluctant to embrace religion in its own way, but Sisko's problems show that's changing.
This issue, written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, illustrated by Ramon Rosanas and Oleg Chudakov, colored by Lee Loughridge, and written by Clayton Cowles, opens with Sisko struggling to bond with his son Jack. Sisko wants to ask Jack what he thinks God is, but hesitates, worried that his son will think such a question is "too deep." Sisko almost asked out loud, but changed the subject. Still, it's clear that "what makes a god" is a question of great concern to the series.
Star Trek Seems to Accept Some Beings Are Gods
The focus of IDW's Star Trek titles, which launched last fall, has been the mysterious force systematically slaughtering the franchise's godlike beings. Bajoran Prophet Sends Benjamin Sisko Back The plane of human existence so he could find who or what was behind the genocide; then he got a new ship, the USS Theseus, and a new crew of the best and brightest in Starfleet. The series kicked off with a bang, as Sisko and his new colleagues witnessed the Godslayer slaughter every living crystalline entity. Sisko and Theseus tracked the Godslayer throughout the Klingon Empire; now, following a tip from Q, the crew is heading to the fabled city of T'Kon to confront the Godslayer head-to-head.
The Star Trek series has had a tricky relationship with religious themes throughout its 56-year history. While there have been many godlike beings such as Gary Mitchell, The Prophet or Q, they have been described as unworthy of the title. Star Trek has traditionally taken a vague view of organized religion and belief in a Creator. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine shows a more nuanced view of the topic through Bajoran religion, with certain characters being benevolent while others are portrayed as ruthless and manipulative. However, Star Trek characters have traditionally embraced the powers of some god-like being while rejecting their inherent divinity -- an approach that the comics don't seem to be taking.
Star Trek Has a New Attitude to Its Gods
Most characters in the new series - from Sisko and Q to Godslayer himself - explicitly acknowledge that the most powerful being in the universe can truly and accurately be called a "god". Usually, Star Trek spends its time refuting these claims—rejecting the idea that anyone is truly a "god"—but Sisko's questions about what makes a god, and a killer who targets everything that fits the bill , which runs counter to this theme. With villains vehemently rejecting the gods and Sisko trying to justify their existence, this is a new way for Star Trek to discuss its most powerful characters.
Gene Roddenberry intended Star Trek to be a commentary on the human condition, of which religion was an integral part. Sisko asks "what made the gods" because he not only witnessed the gods being murdered, but also lived in them - both of which gave him a unique perspective on the issue. The experiences of Sisko and Bajoran, including the people and the Prophet, make He's the perfect person to ask the question that seems to be changing Star Trek forever by opening up new frontiers in Star Trek philosophy.
MORE: Star Trek Proves Riker Needs to Join Sisko's New Crew