Brannon Braga is back in the Star Trek game. Braga spent a huge early part of his career with Trek, serving as a writer-producer on The Next Generation, Voyager and Enterprise (which he also co-created), and co-writing the TNG features Generations and First Contact. Following the demise of Enterprise in 2005, he went on to write and produce for Threshold, 24, Flash Forward and, most recently, Terra Nova. Now, with IDW Publishing’s comic book series Hive, Braga – collaborating with co-writers Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett, and artist Joe Corroney -- is once again in the Star Trek playground, with a story that involves TNG, the Borg, Locutus, Seven of Nine and time travel. StarTrek.com recently caught up with Braga for an extensive interview about Hive, the 25th anniversary of TNG, his most recent TV work and projects on the way. Below is part one of our conversation and check in again tomorrow for part two.
Did someone have to twist your arm to do Hive, were you itching to return to Trek, or was it something in between?
Braga: There was no arm twisting necessary. I think IDW contacted me; I don’t actually remember. But I’d had this story in the back of my mind already because I’d always wanted to do the final chapter in the Borg saga, as I saw it, as it exists in the mythology that’s in my brain.
How quickly did you find the characters’ voices again?
Braga: Immediately. It’d been a long time since I’d written Next Generation, but the characters came back quickly. I remember, when I was conceiving the story, it just amazed me how fluidly it came back… and how much I missed it. The thing that was interesting is there are fewer words used in comic books. There’s less talking and more visuals. So it was important to me that the voices of the characters sounded like the characters and weren’t just interchangeable. That, to me, was part of the fun, because it’s the closest you’re going to get to seeing these characters alive again.
What did Terry, Travis and Joe contribute to the process?
Braga: Terry, Travis and I had a lot of meetings on the story, and they were terrific. Terry worked with me on Star Trek for eight years. He started as my assistant and worked his way up to the professional writer that he is now in television, and Travis is his partner. They managed to take a giant storyline with a lot of different things happening and break it up into four issues. They’ve been writing the script and I’ve been writing behind them, and they’ve done a great job. Joe… the most fun thing about these comics is seeing them come to life in the artwork. In some ways it’s more fun than working in television. I think Joe’s real strength is capturing the likenesses and making you feel like you’re watching a lost episode of the show.
Some people will say, “The Borg, time travel, Seven of Nine… this is what Braga excels at.” Other people are probably going to complain, “This is just Braga rehashing old plots and going back to the well.” Were you damned if you do, damned if you don’t?
Braga: There was nothing about this that felt… I mean, look, obviously there will be some people who don’t like it, but there’s nothing that felt rehashed to me about this. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it. You’re right, there is time travel and the Borg, and they’re elements I’d toyed with in the Star Trek universe for a long time. But this is a different story. I’d never done a story that took place 500 years in the future, after the Borg have assimilated the galaxy. I don’t think we’ve seen that. Seven of Nine made a brief appearance at the end of Issue #1, but she actually has a really interesting character arc that’s very resonant. Of course, I’m often accused of being a hack, so it’s nothing new.
Issue #2 is out now. Give us a preview of where the story is headed.
Braga: The reviews that I’ve read online have generally been very positive, but if there’s one criticism it’s that there’s some resemblance to the Voyager episode “Scorpion” that I did. The answer is, yes, there is a resemblance in that we’re making a deal with the Borg to defeat an enemy from another dimension. But the story veers into radically new territory in Issue #2. Everything is not what it seems with the Borg, and there’s a much larger game being played. Issue #2 is quite action-packed. There’s some really cool stuff and, as the series goes on – and I’m literally working on Issue #4 right now – it really, ultimately dips into some moral quandary for Picard having to do with committing an act of genocide and whether or not genocide is justifiable in any circumstance. It’s just classic Star Trek stuff.
Hive is not your first foray into comic books. You’d done a four-issue Iron Man series. How open are you to do more Trek comics or, if not more Trek comics, just other comic-book stories in the future?
Braga: Iron Man was great fun and this was great, too. I hope they’ll let me do more. I would do another Next Gen one in a second. I have to see, I guess, how well this one does, but I suspect I’ll be doing more.
Visit StarTrek.com again tomorrow to read the second half of our Brannon Braga interview.