A new IDW comic series begins and this is one we have really been waiting for. Revisiting the Original Series, and showing the first five episodes from the lost spinoff, “Assignment Earth”. John Byrne brings us his vision of where the show could’ve gone, and we’ve got the first issue this week. In addition to that, we’ve got cover previews for the next few issues and for John Byrne’s upcoming Romulan series.
REVIEW STAR TREK: ASSIGNMENT EARTH #1
Gary Seven returns to save the day
When the original Star Trek series was on the air, one of the stranger episodes was "Assignment: Earth". This episode was originally conceived of as a pilot for a spinoff featuring Gary Seven. (In fact, the original pilot script did not even feature a mention of Star Trek.) The series was never picked up, and the crew of the Enterprise were added to the plot, and we were left with a story that seemed a bit off kilter for the rest of the series.
With his first Star Trek comics mini-series, following on the success of his Alien Spotlight issue, John Byrne has decided to take matters into his own hands and produce episodes from the series. The first is set a few months after the events "Assignment: Earth." In fact, to tie things together, Byrne portrays the last scene of the original television episode as the first page of the issue, before jumping into the story proper. Immediately after, the story begins with a big splash.
This is not the first comics appearance for Gary Seven and Isis, as they previously appeared in issues 49 and 50 of the second volume of DC comics back in 1993. They also made an appearance in the 1995 annuals for both the original series and Next Generation series from DC in the two-issue mini-series "Convergence". Byrne’s portrayal of them is, to my mind, the most accurate of the bunch, and conveys the personalities of both the characters and their original actors the strongest.
Byrne’s story echoes the fears and paranoia of the late 1960s, with their worries about a possible nuclear war, the burgeoning cold war with the Soviet Union, and the rise of a communist China. All of these elements play into the story in this first issue, laced with the humor brought to the screen by Teri Garr and Robert Lansing. Seven and Lincoln find themselves investigating the "Hercules" project, a top-secret military nuclear test, near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The two agents, with the assistance of Isis, have to infiltrate the project and discover what the Russians are planning.
Byrne presents the story like a spy comic from the days when they were regularily printed, whether James Bond stories or otherwise. His artwork suits the writing style and the characters rather well, even if some of his facial characitures fail to look anything like real faces on occasion. Tom Smith, the colorist for the series, does an excellent job with the 1960s military styles and tones. Where needed, he brings his experience from his years of working on the "Avengers", various "Venom" mini-series, and DC’s "The Brave and the Bold" and adds extra colors to panels to give them some more life when Byrne hasn’t filled them in with any background details.
This is an excellent start to this series. I did not have high expectations for these five issues, at least partly due to the fact that the original episode was nowhere near being a favorite of mine. Due to these low expectations, it also took me a couple of days to actually pick up the issue and begin reading it. Having said that… Byrne has completely blown those low expectations out of the water and provided a story that has me looking forward to issue number two, and the story in 1969. You can bet that I’ll be reading that one the minute I get it, and I recommend that you don’t make the same mistake I did with this one.
"Star Trek Assignment: Earth #1" is available at comic shops this week.
Future Comic releases
Like the first cover, the rest of the covers in this series are being done by John Byrne with Tom Smith’s colors. Here are the covers for the second and third issues of the series:
Next week: New IDW comics coming… more news… lots of info!