Taking place between the third and fourth seasons of “Star Trek: Deep Space 9,” “Fool’s Gold” #1 acts mostly as the first act of a television episode, setting up the plot without delivering anything of great interest on its own. However, it does set things up well, creating an intriguing mystery concerning why incoming traffic to DS9 has spiked, but outgoing traffic has tanked. The answer may lie with Quark, but he isn’t providing any clues.
The issue begins in a manner that explains the backstory of Deep Space 9 for anyone unfamiliar with it by focusing on two shady characters who have come to the station for unspecified purposes. The opening pages actually seem more like the beginning of a movie than anything else with main characters passing by quickly, allowing us to hear snippets of their conversations, while one of the shady aliens tells the other about DS9’s history with the Cardassians, the Bajorans, the wormhole, and whatever else seems necessary. From there, it jumps to Captain Sisko having an uneasy feeling about how quiet it is after the recent sabotage attempt by a Changeling that took place in the season three finale, which leads to Major Kira raising the issue of the amount of people coming to the station and not leaving.
When Sisko dismisses her concerns as a sign that people aren’t afraid to come to the station, she visits Odo who is having problems with all of the visitors as they seem determined to tear the station apart in an effort to find something — and are bypassing his security measures to do so. While the Tiptons don’t quite have the rhythm and voices of most of the characters down yet, the way they write Odo’s dialogue is so good that you can practically hear Rene Auberjonois’s voice when reading the issue as they alter the spelling of words to match his delivery. Hopefully, future issues focus on the security chief because of this strength.
Artistically, drawing a licensed property is difficult as walking the line between adherence to realism and telling the story can work at odds. Fabio Mantovani seems a little schizophrenic in this issue, altering his style between hard realism and looser storytelling. Of the two, he should stick with the latter as panels where he just tries to get across the message without caring how accurate he is to the show or actors are the best. Odo, in particular, comes off looking great as Mantovani takes liberties with his appearance to show his frustration with the visitors tearing apart his station.
Honestly, this issue is mostly mediocre storytelling from the writers and artist aside from any use of Odo who seems to be the only character anyone involved truly understands and can use to good effect. Perhaps, when this is over, the creative team should just work on an Odo solo story since that’s where their strengths lie. Until then, “Fool’s Gold” is fairly average, but does have an intriguing mystery to be solved.