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TrekInk: Reviews – 4 Latest Trek Comics June 19, 2008

by Alex Fletcher , Filed under: Comics,Review,TNG,TOS , trackback

Due to various shipping and other issues, TrekInk has some catching up to do. As such, we’re going to do a quick review and summary on each of four recent Trek comics: the second "Assignment Earth", then the third "New Frontier", the second "Enterprise Experiment", and closing it all out with the final issue in the "Intelligence Gathering" series.

 

Review- Assignment Earth #2
The second issue of John Byrne’s "Assignment Earth" is set during the "Tomorrow is Yesterday" episode of the Original Series. You might recall that this episode originally aired before the first Gary Seven episode. That little tidbit is taken into account in the story, which is a time travel tale. Of sorts. It ties in closely to the television episode, but veers off in a somewhat odd tangent, until you, as the reader, realize what is happening. I don’t want to go into too much more detail than that. In short, Isis plays a much larger role than in the first issue, the Enterprise crew make an appearance (but we never see their faces, thus avoiding the problem Byrne appeared to have in the first issue when showing Spock and Kirk), and the Beta 5 transporter is proven to be more versatile than ever, allowing for a trip up to the Enterprise itself, reminiscent of Seven of Nine’s visit to Voyager before her launch in Relativity.


A stray cat on a top secret miltary base? Really, how is that a problem… er… oh.
(click to enlarge)

Byrne has really taken to this series and tells another good story. This has quickly become my favorite series since the Blood Will Tell one. His artwork is the same style as the prior issue, and he gives a look very similar to the old television series. Tom Smith’s colors continue to keep that 1960s feel alive, even making the Enterprise look like it fell right off of the television screen and onto the printed page. Again, if I haven’t made it clear how much I’m enjoying this series, I haven’t done my job well.


ST: Assignment Earth #2 Cover

Review – New Frontier #3
I think that I’ve also made it clear that I was not the biggest fan of the New Frontier stuff from Peter David, but that was also at least partly due to my lack of familiarity with the subject matter. Now for the good news and the bad news as relates to the third issue of his "Turnaround" series. The bad news? I’m still kinda lost. The good news… I think that’s the intent at this point in time. In this issue, David starts to pull the story threads taut and gives us the second big twist of the series (you may recall that the first was Jellico stealing the prototype starship in the first issue… if you don’t remember that bit, you may want to read that issue again, since the entire series is predicated on that theft in the first few pages!). The story in this issue focuses on Jellico and Soleta, but has a small side trip to visit Robin Lefler, in a thread that seems to be setting something up for some event in the final issue of the story. At least, that’s my best guess on the matter.


Sometimes no exposition is better than confusing exposition (click to enlarge)

Steven Thompson’s art is pretty top notch, as it has been for the prior two issues, bringing characters from a novel to life, and trying to make things feel like we’re watching it on screen, rather than just reading it. So far, I know two things about this series. First, New Frontier fans will continue to eat this up like manna from the heavens. Second, I’m still ambivalent about it, but it’s like reading a novel or watching a movie that you’re not entirely certain how much you’re enjoying, you just really want to find out "whodunit" and in this case, I’m pretty much certain that it wasn’t the butler.


ST: New Frontier  #3 Cover

Review – Star Trek Year 4 – Enterprise Experiment #2
DC Fontana and Derek Chester present us with the second issue in their "Enterprise Experiment", and it starts off with a terribly confusing bang. Well, more of a flashback than a bang. It took me a couple of readings before I realized that the pages were not in the wrong order, and it it was, indeed, a flashback to a time before the series began. Once I had that figured out, the rest of the issue suddenly made a whole lot more sense than it had before. The story "concludes" the main story left over from the first issue, managing to drop in Sarek and introduce Section 31 all at the same time. Along with some anti-gravity combat (as seen on the cover) and a shuttle crash, this issue reads like the last fifteen or twenty minutes of an action episode from the original series.


"Super Kirk" – Look Ma! No hands… and no feet either! (click to enlarge)

Gordon Purcell and Terry Pallot continue to provide the artwork for the series, harkening back to their days on the old DC Comics and Malibu runs. They have a strong feel for the likenesses of the characters and achieve a good look for the action scenes, of which there are a number. My only beef with this issue is that it seems to wrap up the storyline a bit sooner than I was anticipating. Seeing that there are three more issues to come, it feels a bit like the next event will consist of something coming from left field, since no major plot threads are left hanging by the end of the issue. Well, we’ll see what pans out in a couple of weeks.


ST: Year 4 Enterprise Experiment #2 Cover

Review – Star Trek TNG: Intelligence Gathering #5
Finally, onto the final issue of "Intelligence Gathering". This issue features more of Tomalek and his Romulan friends and unfortunately, for me, features the biggest let down in an IDW comic series since the end of "The Space Between". This was a series that the Tiptons and Messina were carrying along very well, setting up a lot of tension, preparing us for the worst… and then we end up with a denouement seen a mile away. Any time a reader can piece together clues over the course of a story and figure out the ending along with the protagonists, the writer is doing well. "Murder She Wrote" was the prime example of this on television. Any time the reader can piece together the clues and still have clues left over but correctly identify the ending, the writer may not be doing so well. For me, this feels like the latter.


Now really folks… when is the Enterprise not a target? (click to enlarge)

Messina’s art is, as usual, very good. The cover is fantastic, and fits with the other five covers quite nicely. One thing I can say in favour of the Tiptons writing more comics for IDW is that they really have a grasp for writing dialogue for Star Trek, television style. Most of the time when characters are speaking on the page, I can hear the actors acting out those lines on screen. If a new Trek television series ever comes back to air, these guys would be a good choice to try their hands out on a script, whether an original, or a screenplay of someone else’s story. In the case of this issue, out of the even dozen issues they’ve done thus far (five "Blood Will Tell", five of this series, and the two "Alien Spotlight" issues), this is the only one that has let me down to date. That’s a pretty good record by my count, and I look forward to their upcoming "Mirror Images" series.


ST:TNG Intelligence Gathering #5 Cover

COMING UP NEXT
We are pretty close to caught up. But in the next week we will cover Enterprise Experiment #3 and New Frontier #4, plus some new previews and comics news. IDW are really ramping up so we should be back to new issues (and reviews) almost every week.

 

Comments

1. SirMartman - June 19, 2008

Sweet,, these Trek comics look really well done,

I would love to see abit more of Gary Seven and his cat,,

( he could even turn up and save Kirk you know,,,)

:o )

2. BritishStyleGalactica - June 19, 2008

Must get my hands on the Assignment Earth stuff.
Looks and sounds really cool.
I like the idea, and the going off at a strange tangent appeals!

3. Charles Trotter - June 19, 2008

Good stuff, good stuff. Great job, Sulfer! :)

4. Charles Trotter - June 19, 2008

Er… I meant Sulfur.

And I’m tired, so shut up. :P

5. Paul - June 19, 2008

Why is the admiral’s face flat? As seen in TNG first season, 24th century screens are 3D. Remember how both Picard and the Ferengi are seen in profile? It was The Last Outpost, I believe…

6. Uncle Twitchy - June 19, 2008

One of the reasons Byrne didn’t show the faces of the Enterprise crew was the conceit that these are adaptations of “actual episodes” of the fictitious “Assignment: Earth” series, and he figured if they actually did that episode back in the ’60s, they would’ve used stand-ins and overdubbed dialogue from the previous “Star Trek” episode. I think it’s a great approach, and I, too, have been loving this series.

7. Dom - June 19, 2008

Paul (5) Most people are lucky to make it through ten minutes of The Last Outpost without falliing asleep! LOL!

It’s possibly the worst episode of any Trek ever. The Way to Eden might be dire, but at least it isn’t boring!!!!

8. CmdrR - June 19, 2008

Very nice art work.

9. Izbot - June 19, 2008

John Byrne was a comics giant during the 1980’s. His runs on X-Men and Fantastic Four are legendary and he was the driving force behind relaunching Superman in 1986. However the quality of his pencil work has been in decline since the early 90’s and he’s gone from being the artist who always loaded every panel with intricate detail, giving his characters an organic voluptuousness to a more rushed, wooden cheapness. It is a shame he’s waited so long to finally tackle Trek in his medium given his long-evident love for the series (he regularly lifted story ideas straight from TOS episodes for his super-hero work). DC published a 2-issue Who’s Who in Star Trek in 1986 and Byrne contributed a memorable illustration of Khan that had me imagining him doing a comic adaptation of TWOK (the only classic-era movie never adapted to comics form, oddly enough). Oh well, I’m still glad he finally came around to doing this.

10. Andy Patterson - June 19, 2008

I’m also digging the Assignment: Earth series. Waiting on my issue 2 right now. Reading this series kind of makes it hurt. It’s like thinking of a lost love and thinking of what used to/or could have been. Don’t get me wrong. It feels good too. Just a mix of feelings when reading this. Makes it all the more sweeter.

11. Izbot - June 19, 2008

John Byrne used to sneak Star Trek references in his comics all the time. One issue of Fantastic Four had a paparazzi photographer snap some pics of She-Hulk as she was topless sunbathing. When the pics were finally published in a sleazy magazine the printer color-corrected the images turning She-Hulk from her usual green to caucasian thus obscuring her identity (in a reference to an amusing story told in The Making of Star Trek when film of Vina as the Orion slave girl kept coming back from the processor similarly color-corrected). Also in an early Superman story during Byrne’s run he had a bad guy, after first encountering the hero, state that “in another reality I might have called you…friend!” — straight from Balance of Terror, one of Byrne’s favorite episodes.

12. Diabolik - June 19, 2008

FIRST LOOK AT NEW UNIFORM FOR UHURA?
http://s188.photobucket.com/albums/z72/sirashlondon/?action=view&current=dante-posh02-ball06.jpg

They meant it when they said short!

13. Donald G - June 19, 2008

Re: #11 post from Izbot:

Byrne used that “Balance of Terror” quote in THE MAN OF STEEL #3, and the “bad guy” in question using the quote was Batman.

For Trekmovie readers who weren’t comic readers in the mid-eighties. DC Comics rebooted their continuity in 1985, and Byrne’s THE MAN OF STEEL (from 1986) was part of that revamp. One of the changes to characters’ history and relationships was that Superman and Batman were no longer and *never had been* particularly good friends.

14. Izbot - June 19, 2008

13.
That’s right! I hadn’t read it in years and forgot who said it and precisely where. I enjoyed Byrne’s run in the Superman titles but thought things went the wrong way when Dan Jurgens took over and foisted that whole “Death of Superman” mess on us — and then the comics industry as a whole almost went belly-up. “Death of Superman” wasn’t the main reason for the comics crash but it definately was a big contributing factor. I quit regularly buying comics at that time, after twenty years collecting.

I recently picked up the first volume collecting the 60s Gold Key Trek comics. Nostalgic but really goofy stuff!

15. SciFiMetalGirl - June 19, 2008

I’ve always loved Star Trek comics, but I can never seem to find them on the newsstand anymore, and subscriptions are difficult to maintain since they seem to like to bounce around between multiple series *sigh*

16. Andy Patterson - June 19, 2008

Just finished reading number 2. I like Byrne’s present day art. I only have two beefs with this issue though.

1. Shouldn’t the “who’s activating our transporter thing?” have come from Roberta and not Seven? That doesn’t seem like something he’d say. Transporter “thing”?!

And 2nd: I’d love to see more of the blue smoke swirl effect from the transporter. That is custom made to be illustrated in a comic book. Especially with today’s coloring methods. I don’t think Byrne makes use enough of that in these books. Kind of skips it a bit if you ask me.

Other than that. I enjoy them.

17. Anthony Pascale - June 19, 2008

SciFiMetalGirl

a good idea for people who dont want to trudge down to their local comic store is to buy the Trade Paperbacks. All the new IDW comics are put together in nice bound books and those are available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.. Each series makes a sort of nice standalone graphic novel.

I will make sure Alex covers that in a future column with links, but until then go on amazon and look

18. BritishStyleGalactica - June 19, 2008

#12
I must get my wife one of those uniforms.
That is truly fantastic!

19. BritishStyleGalactica - June 19, 2008

Not sure she would comply though!

20. SciFiMetalGirl - June 19, 2008

Anthony, wow, some links would be great, thanks! :))

I’d be willing to trudge to the local comic store… if I had one locally :( I’m usually forced to to see what I can find at the conventions, which is kind of hit and miss. At least thanks to you and Alex I have some idea about what to look for! I will give Amazon a try too!

But oh how I long for the day when I could simply subscribe and get my nice hot-off-the-press issue with a nice backing board delivered right to my mailbox! But even then, they would still come out with some kind of “Special” or an “Annual” that wasn’t included in the price of the scrip, so I still couldn’t win! Sheesh! Lol! But I guess part of the fun of collecting is in the chase, I suppose, right?

21. Uncle Twitchy - June 20, 2008

#16 — yeah, Byrne was uspet with the word balloon placement, too… particularly since his instructions to the letterer had the balloon pointing at Roberta.

22. Andy Patterson - June 20, 2008

On a kind of related note…..I saw Terri Garr on Letterman last night. Dave had to help her on stage but she’s keepin’ on keepin on. Has a good sense of humor about things in her life right now. I respect that. It was very refreshing and inspiring.

23. FREAKAZOID - June 20, 2008

I’ve read a few issues of Year 4 and I must say I am not impressed. The art is good but I find the stories weak and boring.

24. Rainbucket - June 20, 2008

I doubt I’ll read “Intelligence Gathering”, but in the excerpts here I’m impressed how good the artists make the Enterprise-D look. Better than it looked on the TV screen.

25. diabolik - June 20, 2008

#22… what’s happened to her? Is she in poor health? I just can’t picture her old…

26. Andy Patterson - June 20, 2008

She has Multiple Sclerosis and last year had a brain aneurysm. I believe the MS is what’s affected her right and right leg. She seems again, to be getting by and laughing through the bad times. Is still working. She was there plugging a new movie she’s in and said she had another one in the can. Good for her.

27. Andy Patterson - June 20, 2008

On a kind of related matter, but really not,…..can anyone tell me what the trick to getting on John Byrne’s message boards is?! I’d love for someone to E-mail me who’s been successful. It seems his is set up to be the most frustrating, defeating system ever.

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