Early Review: Star Trek Countdown #1 – Prequel Comic To Star Trek Movie

The wait is (almost) over. The first issue of "Star Trek Countdown," the four-part Star Trek movie prequel series, hits comic book stores on Wednesday. Who is Nero? What is Spock’s agenda? What’s going to happen with that star? How exactly does the new movie tie into the TNG era? Well you came to the right place as TrekMovie has the first review of "Star Trek Countdown" Issue #1.

 

[Article discusses SPOILERS for comic and Star Trek movie]

 

REVIEW: STAR TREK COUNTDOWN #1
Spock and Nero, together at last

Mike Johnson and Tim Jones have been tasked with what is likely the biggest and highest profile Star Trek comic book in decades, possibly ever. This comic, like IDW’s Transformers movie prequel comics before it, is bound to make something of a crossover to those Star Trek fans out there who are not comic book fans but will them pick it up, if only for a sneak peek into world of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. This is especially true being that the comic is officially ‘presented’ by Abrams and has a story written by the Star Trek screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto ‘ask me about quantum theory’ Orci. In a previous interview, Orci has stated that this comic series will show "how you connect" the Next Generation to the new movie’s continuity. So ironically, even though this is a prequel to a movie mostly set in the era of young Kirk and crew, this prequel comic actually doubles as a sequel to the Next Gen era.

The comic starts simply enough, as see in the previously released 5-page preview. It is Stardate 64333.4 (eight years after Star Trek Nemesis), somewhere in the Romulan Empire. We’re aboard a small mining vessel, captained by a young loyal Romulan by the name of Nero. Smooth of brow, clean of visage, we soon learn in the subsequent pages that this young Romulan is not known to the Senate, but represents the Mining Guild there.


Spock’s influence with the Romulans has changed since "Unification"
(click to enlarge)

Starting on page six "Countdown" takes us into what could be seen as a follow-up story to the Next Generation’s "Unification" two-parter, which established that eleven years before Nemesis (and nineteen years before the comic) Spock was on Romulus covertly trying to bring together the Romulans and the Vulcans. Now in the post-Nemesis era, Spock has finally become an official resident of Romulus, serving as Federation Ambassador to the Empire, and sitting in on their Senate meetings. He has recently discovered some disturbing information about the Hobus star which seems moving toward becoming a massive supernova. In a scene very akin to Jor El’s warnings in Superman The Movie, the scientists of Romulus shoot down Spock’s theory, especially when Spock reveals that he may have a plan, but it involves taking a rare and valuable Romulan mineral to, of all places, Vulcan. Understandably, this does not go over well, but Nero steps up to support Spock’s claims, having seen an explosion at the star firsthand. This leads to the start of what looks to be a friendship between the two, and an offer that Spock finds impossible to refuse. Hey, wait a minute — isn’t Nero supposed to be the villain in the Star Trek movie? In a classic Orci/Kurtzman twist, there appears much more than meets the eye for this Nero.


Unfortunately, the decades haven’t helped Spock’s sense of humor
(click to enlarge)

Working off of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s story, Jones and Johnson do a fair job of bringing that story to the comic genre. Taking into account that this is a first, and thus introductory issue, pushing the Star Trek story forward to some eight years after the events of Star Trek Nemesis, it would be expected that a lot of the pages would be dedicated to detailing the new characters and situations that we find ourselves in. Contrary to that, Jones and Johnson throw us into the middle of the story, showing us what we need to know, and introducing us to characters bit by bit.


This may seem reminiscent of Star Trek VI and Praxus, but an exploding star is way bigger than an exploding moon… (click to enlarge)

This approach by the writers works reasonably well, even if some of the dialogue may seem a bit off kilter and unexpected from Romulans. Of course, that may also be the intent, trying to show us that Nero, one of the main characters in the upcoming movie, is not the traditional Romulan we are used to. Indeed, Nero’s actions throughout the story presented in Countdown are not at all what we might expect. Here he is sympathetic, and shows all the characteristics of a classic Trek hero, including sacrifice, selflessness and compassion…all of which leads the reader to wonder if events in this comic series are going to turn him evil, or if there is going to be something else going on in the upcoming film.

Even though the story is full of expectation-bending, there is also quite a bit of referencing to Star Trek continuity, including the last entry in Trek’s canon, Star Trek Nemesis. The issue also introduces us to some new ‘Treknobabble,’ including ‘red matter’ which we know will play a role in the Star Trek feature film.


Nero, family man

David Messina has been tapped to provide the artwork for this series, and he doesn’t stop there. In addition to the pencils and inks, he also is the primary colorist for the issue, working with two other members of his studio. His artwork is exactly what I’d expected, especially as he’s worked on several Trek series before this, including Blood Will Tell, Mirror Images, and Intelligence Gathering. His style for Countdown is no different, and is heavily reliant on shading. Now, his portrait of Spock does not always look like Leonard Nimoy, but it is still always recognizable. The other characters he shows us do look exactly like who they purport to be. The look of Romulus is also a  nice nod to continuity, as can been seen above in the image of Spock addressing the Romulan Senate.

The biggest quibble is that Countdown #1 is too short. The issue is an excellent, but too brief, start to the comic miniseries — full of surprises. And the comic is a promising look at where the new movie might take us. I’ve got my guesses, but seeing how the first issue has already shook things up, they are probably off. From the  looks of it, readers of "Star Trek Countdown" will certainly get a rich back-story to the feature film, especially for those who want to see how this ties into where Star Trek left off with the last film. This becomes especially evident with [SUPER SPOILER ALERT – HIGHLIGHT INVISO-TEXT AHEAD AT OWN RISK BUT YOU SHOULDN’T REALLY] the appearance of three Reman warships, and the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Data. That alone was enough to make me eagerly want to know what happens in the next issue!


Regular and dealer incentive photo cover for Countdown #1
(click to enlarge)

Star Trek Countdown available this week
Star Trek Countdown #1 will be available in comic stores starting Wednesday January 21st.

You can order Countdown #1 (and #2 & #3) at TFAW.com, discounted to $3.19 each. You can also get a subscription to all four issues at IDW.com  ($15.96 or $3.99/issue). Or you can wait until April and pick up the trade paperback, available for pre-order at Amazon for $12.23.

Countdown #1

Countdown #2

Countdown #3

Countdown #4

$3.59
(Jan. 21)

 

$3.19
(February)

 

$3.19
(March)

 

$3.19
(April)
avail. for pre-order soon

 

Star Trek Countdown
(Trade Paperback – compiling all 4 issues)

$12.23
(Pre-order – April. 29)

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Devon
January 19, 2009 4:59 pm

Hmmmm…. those spoilers REALLY have me curious now. Interesting, definitely need to pick this up!

Thanks Alex!

Tony Hussein Obama
January 19, 2009 5:02 pm

Whoa! Captain **** (omitting spoilers)… what?!?!

bolianbob
January 19, 2009 5:04 pm

Wow! Gawd this is exciting. So many possibilities people! So many! The mega spoilers have me thinking now…wow. How the hell is this going to fit in indeed? Just wow.

Just another German trekker
January 19, 2009 5:07 pm

“First” …
…might be a nice word but I bet I will come third or fourth … anyway… So Data’s not THAT dead … well okay – considering the hints that NEMESIS gave us concerning the slow but steady mental development of B4 – why not… I hope that I can get my hands on an original issue of the comic book – unfortunately (as far as I know) it won’t be released in Germany until sometime in April… well, I guess I’ll have to rely on some internet bookstore…

Driver
January 19, 2009 5:20 pm

I like the “voiceover”. More of It would provide an extended background on post Nemesis story lines.

Sean
January 19, 2009 5:23 pm

Countdown sounds better than I expected! I’m definitely going to pick up the whole series once it’s all out. I couldn’t stand getting to the end of an issue and not being able to finish the story!

Demode
January 19, 2009 5:30 pm

Oh MY…. GOD!

I am sooooo excited for this comic now. This actually gives me alot of hope for a new TNG film too!

January 19, 2009 5:32 pm

That “joke” Spock makes in that one panel is atrocious writing. It’s not even ironic, it’s just bad! But this in no way should reflect on the upcoming movie. I just can’t suffer bad writing, no matter the medium…

punkydrewster
January 19, 2009 5:49 pm

No matter how close “hobus” was to Romulus it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference as a supernova’s explosion moved outward the density of it would dissipate and the matter would cool. The explosion would take years to get there as well. Introducing MORE junk science into star trek is not a good idea. Is the hobus star like IN the Romulus star system? That would make sense.

screaming satellite
January 19, 2009 5:49 pm

agggrahhh i cant read this!! i dare not read it!!!

look away nothing to see here *backs out of thread swiftly*

seriously though – i knew the Countdown review was coming any day – i started reading and then stopped after the first paragraph before the story description – if id continued i would have breached the point of no return in my mind and then read every spoiler there is until the movies release…gotta be stronger than that… i know its been said that CD wont spoil the film but i really dont want to risk spoiling it any further for myself after knowing about the alternate timeline (i was abit dissapointed in myself for giving in and reading about that..even though its pretty obvious thats what must happen from seeing the trailer)…but thats enough now for me..the line must be drawn here! This far no further…..

(intended to buy the CD TB and read it after may 8th)

The Gorn Identity
January 19, 2009 5:54 pm

Dang…this is gonna be good. I’ve been following IDW’s Trek comics from the beginning. It’s nice to see some people here will be getting on board the train.

Jordan
January 19, 2009 5:54 pm

Uhhhhh Data’s not dead? Doesn’t anyone stay dead anymore?

January 19, 2009 5:59 pm

I get the feeling that inviso-text development is going to send some fans (not to mention the current ST novelists!) into a tailspin…but then, one should expect the unexpected in Star Trek lore. ;)

However, that ear joke alone vindicates my decision not to let Spock organise any upcoming roasts…

CarlG
January 19, 2009 6:01 pm

Oh, wow, this looks a lot better than the preview made it out to be!

Now Nero’s “casual Romulans” make a lot more sense, and they seem very intriguing, too.
It’s a lot more interesting (and tragic) when we get to see the villain as something more complex than a cardboard cutout labeled “EEEEVIL”.

Joel
January 19, 2009 6:02 pm

Fascinating. Looking forward to it! Interesting to see how that big spoiler plays into the series.

Driver
January 19, 2009 6:04 pm

I see the ear joke like an “in” joke with the Romulans. Like Shakespeare is to the Klingons.

KIrkPicard Forever
January 19, 2009 6:09 pm

I just ordered the four-issue subscription and will be picking up the trade paperback when it is available. Thank you for the links!!! I am so excited to read these comics, especially since they include Spock and my old friends, the “Next Generation” characters! Mr. Orci or Mr. Kurtzman, can there be aanother prequel movie to the prequel movie in May based on this comic series if it is successful? I sure would love to see the cast of “Next Generation” in action one last time as a life-long “Next Generation fan!!!

Lord Garth, Formerly Of Izar
January 19, 2009 6:10 pm

Gee how shocking a cream de pantaloons review from this site. After the preview last week replete with 9 yr old skater emo dialogue. Is there any true objectivity anymore or is this another arm of paramount marketing. I hope the comic is good as well but to say the only quible is it is too short?? How about the god awful dialogue most had a big problem with last week?? No mention?? I love Trek when it’s good but enough with the kool-aid. This is Trek not Jonestown, it’s OK to critisize and still love something, at least it used to be here.

Boborci
January 19, 2009 6:18 pm

Anthony,

Great caption under Spock’s intro. Hilarious…

Enterprise
January 19, 2009 6:21 pm

oMG! Spock turned into the Joker?

January 19, 2009 6:22 pm

Bob, I cannot take credit, this was merely edited by me, it was written by Alex our comics guy.

However, I must take credit for referring to you as: Roberto ‘ask me about quantum theory’ Orci.

Boborci
January 19, 2009 6:24 pm

21

Fair enough. Kudos to you both.

OneBuckFilms
January 19, 2009 6:24 pm

I think this review sums it up.

I already have Part 1, it arrived this weekend, and I like the fast pace of the story.

Also, introducing characters as we go is probably the best way to do it, and matches what would be done for a movie or TV episode.

Let the dialogue, events and actions tell us who they are.

Well done Ocri, Kurtzman and company.

It’s also interesting to note that the “off dialogue” of the Romulans is really limited to the start, and in greater context, seems more natural.

I also noted that it is presented on high quality glossy paper, and my copy is bagged and boarded, which i am told is a good thing.

Now I await for Pasts 2, 3 and 4 to arrive from IDW Publishing. (I subscribed on their website).

January 19, 2009 6:25 pm

Bob I’ll second that #17 question. I know it’s a long shot, way too early to talk about this, but is there really the chance to see the TNG crew again?

January 19, 2009 6:26 pm

18
Four of us read it here at TM and we all enjoyed it. I am not a comics guy myself but I liked it very much, although it really does feel too short and leaves you wanting. Alex did note the dialog, which at times is awkward. IMHO story is solid and interesting and the art is very good. What I see here is a very interesting (and surprising) comic that is bridging the gap between TNG and ST09.

I suggest you roll the dice and drop three bucks on this issue and see for yourself.

OneBuckFilms
January 19, 2009 6:28 pm

18, 25 – I second that.

I think this is the first Comic Book I’ve ever purchased. Good story.

Robert H.
January 19, 2009 6:32 pm

Starting to wonder if the actual movie is picking up where Spock left off on both Unification and Titan. And beginning to believe that it would have been better than Nemesis if they found a way to have included Spock and Sela regardless of the complexity of their histories.

January 19, 2009 6:41 pm

And Bob, how big is the TNG era in this movie? Can we expect some cast from that timeline that we are familiar with besides Spock, or it will be just a title that goes 24th CENTURY: SOMEWHERE ALONG THE NEUTRAL ZONE, and then wham… Nero goes time traveling right after the jail breaking?

Or the Countdown is the only significant thing that we’ll see from the TNG era?

OneBuckFilms
January 19, 2009 6:45 pm

27 – Nemesis could have been done far better, if you asked me.

This comic is meant to tie in the trek we know with the new movie, and will likely include a couple of other character updates.

It would be interesting to see a 4 part web short made from this story.

Kruge
January 19, 2009 6:45 pm

you know what would be great, if at the beginning of the movie we see Quark, finally on that moon that he always wanted, and then wammo…here comes the shockwave from whatever supernova thing is happening….

OneBuckFilms
January 19, 2009 6:49 pm

28 – I suspect the movie may not actually show anything from the 24th Century, and introduce Spock part the way through the story as seen through Kirk’s eyes.

Spock may not appear for a while, though we’ll probably have part of the plot introduced quickly, so we’d have the knowledge something wasn’t quite right as we follow Kirk and crew’s coming together.

I’m expecting the movie to be fairly linear from the TOS character viewpoint, with maybe some flashbacks in a couple of key scenes.

January 19, 2009 6:49 pm

#30

LOL!!!

DJT
January 19, 2009 6:52 pm

Holy crap! I might actually buy this to find out what the hell happens. What I wouldn’t give to see some of this on the DVD/BD special features. Live or scanned.

Is the Stardate right? It sounds off to me.

750 Mang
January 19, 2009 6:53 pm

Inaguration day tomorrow ,and then a new Trek Comic on Wednesday?

Not bad for a Tuesday and Wednesday.

I haven’t been to the comic store in a while.

RTF!

January 19, 2009 6:53 pm

#31

Well it will show some parts from the 24th century. Nero’s jail brake from Rura Penthe is clearly stated that it is the TNG era, if I’m not mistaken.

As I’ve read so far, there will be 24th century parts. But how huge will they be is my question.

Sean4000
January 19, 2009 6:56 pm

OMG, Data’s back, THREE more Scimitars!……….My head is going to burst with joy!

OneBuckFilms
January 19, 2009 7:15 pm

35 – There’s actually a 24th Century Jailbreak from Rura Penthe?

I know there’s something to do with the Klingons due to the trailer, but I was unaware that this has been acknowledged.

Where did you read this?

AJ
January 19, 2009 7:42 pm

I’m starting to think it may be a good idea to wait for the Trade version in April. Best to get it all in one sitting.

37: TM.COM, in its trailer play-by-play, indicated that there is a jailbreak from RP (it’s a split-second shot in the trailer).

Anthony, correct me if I am wrong!

OneBuckFilms
January 19, 2009 7:52 pm

38 – I’ve seen that, but it says nothing as to WHEN it happens.

BrF
January 19, 2009 7:53 pm

#12: James T. Kirk

Xai
January 19, 2009 8:21 pm

HEY… DO not give spoilers in the comments…k?

January 19, 2009 8:36 pm

Spoilers in comments are fine in spoiler articles

USS TRINOMA - NCC 0278
January 19, 2009 8:36 pm

There has to be alot of explaining here. I mean with the “interesting” captain, I only wonder what happened in the nine years that has lead us to this. By the way, Bob Orci, how can you reconcile quantum machanics with the temporal cold war that was introduced during the Enterprise series? I just want to know your thoughts on that. Thank you.

cpelc
January 19, 2009 8:43 pm

death of son? for revenge?

possibly time loop with the major spoiler?

JohnnieF
January 19, 2009 9:11 pm

Has anyone else thought that maybe Picard, Riker, and maybe Data and others will be in the movie? Didn’t they “visit” the set? I seem to remember Riker visiting. What if some of the “visits” were more than that? I have no idea how this movie actually starts – it may start in the TNG era along with the comic series and go from there.

Just a thought.

OneBuckFilms
January 19, 2009 9:12 pm

45 – Not gonna happen.

Third Remata'Klan
January 19, 2009 10:45 pm

DON’T LOOK AT THE SPOILERS!!!!
Auuuugghhhh!!!

Okay, simmering down, gotta read this….

But I’ll wait and get the single-volume trade paperback, thank you very much.

Third Remata'Klan
January 19, 2009 10:45 pm

My eyes….
My eyes….

TrekTwenty
January 20, 2009 12:05 am

So I’m not the comic book type of kid… but I’m thinking about becoming one…

Ian
January 20, 2009 12:33 am

#9: Could be a lot of things going on. If the Klingon moon of Praxis could explode and affect starships light-years away, why not a sun? Besides, it’s established science that the radiation from a nearby supernova (a dozen or so light-years away) could still, at that distance, destroy all life on a planet. Even assuming nothing out of the ordinary, the explosion of a sun could have serious repercussions for any civilization.

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