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TrekIn09: Best Star Trek Books & Comics of 2009 December 27, 2009

by TrekMovie.com Staff , Filed under: Books,Comics , trackback

While much of the buzz in 2009 was about the new Star Trek movie, the world of Star Trek continued in earnest on the printed page in novels and comics and non-fiction books. Today we continue our year end look back with our selections of the best in Star Trek books and comics for 2009. 

 

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BEST STAR TREK BOOKS AND COMICS OF 2009
TrekMovie editors John Tenuto, Robert Lyons and Alex Fletcher contributed to this article.


STAR TREK NOVELS IN 2009

Despite laying off the two leading Star Trek editors (Marco Palmieri in December 2008 and Margaret Clark in August) Pocket Books maintained an ambitious schedule throughout 2009. Novels spanned the Trek universe with entries from Vanguard, New Frontier, Titan, Enterprise, Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine and the original series, along with the New York Times best-selling novelization of the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movie. With so much to chose from, making it was hard to make the calls on the best, but the call has been made.

Best Novel:  Star Trek: Troublesome Minds
written by Dave Galanter

While several very unique novels, Christopher L. Bennett’s “Over a Torrent Sea” and James Swallow’s “Synthesis” joined with “The Never Ending Sacrifice” in contending for top honors, it is ultimately a blast from the past that takes the top spot among this year’s outings – Dave Galanter’s Original Series outing “Troublesome Minds” featured an outstanding storyline and a significant moral dilemma for Spock, one that would eventually form the basis for his decision to pursue the Kholinar discipline after the Enterprise’s original five-year mission. “Troublesome Minds” was also a magnificent throwback to an earlier era of Star Trek fiction, one where the stories were told on a stand-alone basis, and where the unexpected could come to pass on most every page. This isn’t to say that arc-based storytelling is bad, but the feeling of nostalgia one gets when reading Galanter’s entry into this year’s stable of Trek Lit is profound; at least for those of us who read and enjoyed
many of the early Star Trek books from Pocket. [available at Amazon — see TrekMovie Review]

Best Novel Cover: Deep Space Nine: The Never-Ending Sacrifice
art by Nicolas Bouvier

The year was filled with the repercussions of the late-2008 “Destiny” trilogy in the TNG timeline, and featured a well-received relaunch of the Voyager novels at the hands of author Kirsten Beyer. DS9 fans were treated to two significant stories this year, the second of which, Una McCormack’s “The Never Ending Sacrifice” features arguably the year’s best cover. While Doug Drexler and MoJo continue to amaze with their CGI starship and space scenes, it is Nicolas Bouvier’s stark view of Cardassia that comes across as both the most original and unique of the year. The book itself features one of the most original and unique Star Trek stories in years, and was a pleasure to read; but the title of best book of the year goes to a book from earlier in the year. [available at Amazon — see
TrekMovie Review]


 

STAR TREK NON-FICTION IN 2009
Almost from its beginning and the publication of "The Making of Star Trek" in 1967 by Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek has enjoyed extensive non fiction treatment. From guides to the USS Enterprise to episode compendiums, there are always interesting behind the scene or technical information to explore. 2009 was no different. Which were the best?

 

Best Non-fiction Book: Star Trek – The Art of the Film (Titan)
written by Mark Cotta Vaz 

Although we had to wait until the release of the DVD in November, "Star Trek: The Art of the Film" was worth the wait. The coffee table book gave you a real insight into how JJ Abrams, Production Designer Scott Chambliss and all the movie artists re-imagined the universe of Star Trek. Although primarily a book of imagery, the text provided by Cotta Vas (and the foreword by JJ Abrams) provides lots of details about the decisions made along the way to each area of the film, including ship designs, sets, costumes, makeup and more. [available at Amazon — see TrekMovie review]

Best Reference Book: Star Trek: A Comic Book History (Hermes)
written by Alan J. Porter  

Covering all Star Trek comics beginning with Gold Key’s 1960s books and published by Hermes Press, this is an exhaustive guide. It is organized nicely, with a history of each licensee, and then a summary of each issue. Illustrated throughout, the only hope is that the next edition will include more about the IDW comics line which is too new to really be covered historically, yet has produced some excellent titles. The best feature of the book is its detailing of the newspaper strips which many fans may not have enjoyed before. Combine Porter’s text this with last year’s impressive Star Trek: The Complete Comic Book Collection CDROM by GIT Corp and comic fans will be very happy with these historical achieves. [available at Amazon]

Best Biography/Memoir: The View From the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood (Viking)
written by Nicholas Meyer 

In a year where the general public embraced Star Trek again, it is, to borrow a cliché, "fascinating" to revisit past Trek films from the brow of writer and director Nicholas Meyer. Meyer provides insight without providing answers to readers – he doesn’t explain everything, he provides a historical account as he remembers the details and provides fans with new information and behind the scenes tales, This is an honest account, yet refreshingly it doesn’t include the vapid tabloid fodder of some other celebrity biographies. There are also interesting chapter’s on Meyer’s non Star Trek films and his own life experiences, some of which are heart aching, all of which provide a fascinating tapestry of one of Star Trek’s most important creators. [available at Amazon — see TrekMovie review]

 

STAR TREK COMICS IN 2009
IDW released 37 comic books over 11 mini-series this year, some fantastic, some pedestrian, and some downright terrible. There was heavy concentration on stories around the new film, and these three series ("Countdown", "Nero", and "Spock: Reflections") stood up to scrutiny well when viewed alongside JJ Abrams’ film.

Best Single Issue: Alien Spotlight: Klingons
written by Keith R.A. DeCandido, art by J,K. Woodard

The best overall issue came from the second volume of the "Alien Spotlight" series, and was Keith R.A. DeCandido’s Klingons issue. IDW got the perfect author to put this trio of short tales together, telling stories about Kang at three different points of his life as he tells the tale that gave rise to the Klingon saying "Four thousand throats may be cut in a single night by a running man." Of course, a story can only go so far, and without good art to tell the tale, the benefit is lost. DeCandido got one of IDW’s most creative artists in J.K Woodward, and he uses a different art style for each story ranging from water colors to colored pencils to classic comic pencil and inks.

Best Series: Star Trek Countdown
story by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman, written by Tim Jones & Mike Johnson, art by David Messina

The best series of the year was the first one that began in 2009, "Countdown". This story was jam-packed action and exposition in four short issues, but gave us a farewell to the Next Generation crew a few years after the events of Nemesis, tying them into the story of Nero and Spock before the beginning of the new Star Trek film. The comic came out over the course of three months leading up to the debut of the new film, whetting our appetites, and giving a peek into what might come to pass. This series was so well received that it led to series telling more details of Spock and Nero’s decisions and tales in and around the movie. It also holds the honor of being the first Star Trek comic from IDW o be published in a hardcover format. In short, attention was paid to every detail on this series, including the cover art from David Messina which, when put together, forms a comic style version of the Star Trek logo with Nero, Data, Spock, and Picard’s visages in each of the four
quadrants. [Available in trade paperback and hardcover at Amazon — TrekMovie review]

 

Best Cover: Mission’s End #1 (‘B’ cover)
by Kevin Maguire

Kevin Maguire has not worked on Star Trek comics since drawing several characters for DC’s "Who’s Who" back in 1987. He made his return this year with a single cover for the first issue of Ty Templeton’s "Mission’s End" series. This cover, the "B" cover, captured the gist of the series’ synopsis in one clean image – Kirk, McCoy, and Spock walking in three separate directions as the Starfleet emblem shatters behind them. No other cover had the same amount of depth and meaning with such simplicity. [Mission’s End Series available in paperback at Amazon — see TrekMovie review]

 

 

 

More TrekIn09
TrekMovie is looking back at the year that was. In the series so far:

And there is a lot more to look at. Each day until the end of the year TrekMovie will have another year in review looking at more aspects of Star Trek from the movie, to celebrity news and more.
 

Review copies for some of the above products provided by IDW, Pocket Books and Viking Books.

Comments

1. Petey - December 27, 2009

Excellent work, Father Rob and fellow contributors. It has been a wonderful year of TrekInk and here’s to many more.

2. ryanhuyton - December 27, 2009

The “Countdown” and “Alien Spolight: Klingons” issues were instant classics. If anyone hasn’t read any of these yet, I suggest you do so. The storytelling and scripts are great, and the artwork is most excellent. I also own the “Star Trek: The Art of The Film” book and that is a must-buy as well. Great concepts, especially the unused engineering designs.

3. ryanhuyton - December 27, 2009

I meant “Spotlight”.

4. Christine - December 27, 2009

I loved both “Troublesome Minds” and “The Never-Ending Sacrifice”. Both were two very well-written, very thought-provoking books. The former was definitely in-tune with the classics of Star Trek; what ‘Trek really is — and should be! “Never Ending Sacrifice” I loved mainly because it had Cardassians (yay, Cardassians) and over-all was really well-written, in my opinion.

As for Countdown, loved the art, loved the story… hated the faces. Yes, I was really impressed with the series, and yes, I did shell out twenty bucks so it could sit on my ‘Trek bookshelf, but I could have used a little more emotion in everyone who wasn’t Romulan or Klingon. Maybe that’s just coming from an artist who’s rather particular about what comics she reads, but I don’t know if I could call Countdown an instant classic. I’ll have to check out the other new works for comparison, if anything. Really good art, but definitely not my favourite comic that’s come out of Star Trek.

5. ryanhuyton - December 27, 2009

#4 When it comes to art, any art, even comic books, what one considers to be an “instant classic” often depends on someones opinion of it. I consider “Countdown” to be an instant classic, but that is based on my own opinion. You don’t agree. That is the great thing about art. It stirs up debate more than a lot of other things.

6. Christine - December 28, 2009

#5 :: Agreed! Art is something that is very personal, at least for most people. Now, while most everyone will agree that Michaelangelo’s paintings on the Sistine Chapel are amazing, a more abstract piece will stir more varied responses. I’ve learned that, even when I show people my own art.

And even more so when it pertains to a franchise, the idea of an “instant classic” depends on the person. For example, in many ways, the TOS episode “Spock’s Brain” is an instant classic. Do many consider it a stain on the original series’ great record of episodes? Um, yes, but most of us have heard of it, making it somewhat of a classic in its infamy. ;3

Interesting points brought up, Ryanhuyton.

7. Adrick - December 28, 2009

Countdown on it’s own is ok, but taken as a set-up for the movie…it’s terrible. We could have had a detailed exploration of the characters and events that led toward the movie…but instead it looks like whoever wrote it didn’t bother to read most of the script. The Narada gets random Borg tech, Geordi is shoehorned in as the Jellyfish’s designer, a personal relationship is built between Nero and Spock, an animosity is developed between Spock and the Vulcans…and yet the movie itself either doesn’t support these elements or contradicts them outright. And the random resurrection of Data…good grief. It was exciting when it came out, but it was a huge let down the minute the movie hit screens.

I realize Trek continuity doesn’t include the spin-off products, but if the story in the official “prequel” comic doesn’t match the movie it’s promoting, what is the point?

8. Andrew - December 28, 2009

#7 I totally agree. I thought they wrote Countdown with foreknowledge of what was going to be in the movie. I thought they had Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci write the story for the comics, but what they wrote wasn’t consistent with what was shown in the movie. If they wrote the script for the movie, why did they change things in the story for the comics. Was it because they wrote the movie way beforehand and couldn’t change those story points, but in order to tie the movie storyline closer to the Next Generation, they changed things like make Geordi design the Jellyfish instead of the Vulcan Science Academy. Could things in the movie have been portrayed differently than in the Countdown Comics too because they didn’t want the exposition of the future to be too complicated for the average viewer. Anyway, while I can understand some of the reasons things might have been different in the movie than in the comics, it does take away from the enjoyment of the Countdown comics a little because the movie is considered “canon”, which means its storyline points overrule the ones portrayed in the comics. Then again, Star Trek always seemingly contradicts itself when it comes to details, so we shouldn’t get too worked up over the movie’s differences from the Countdown comics.

9. Holger - December 28, 2009

In my book, ST: Crew was the best comic this year.

10. AJ - December 28, 2009

“Art of the Film” was a joy to read. It’s amazing how much work can go into what you DON’T see in the finished product, or what you see for a second.

11. S. John Ross - December 28, 2009

Wow, “Troublesome Minds” sounds like the real deal. Will purchase!

#7: For my money, the big disappointment re the comics “prequel” and the film was the sense of bait-and-switch. The comic is the single element that swayed my decision to see the film in a time of uncertainty on that point, because in the comic, Nero was a _character,_ and the movie didn’t bear that out at ALL … on screen he was little more than a frothing cardboard standee (which is not in any way commentary on Bana’s performance; he elevated the thin material he was given to work with). In the comic, Nero leaps from sympathetic guy to hellbent-on-revenge-guy too rapidly and not really believably, but in the movie we don’t even get _that._ He’s already belching up scenery before we even meet him, and busy gnawing on the carpet tacks, motivated by script convenience and no other force in the universe. The comics got my hopes up a little unfairly that Nero might have unbelievable substance, but substance still (I didn’t mind all the NextGen fanfic they threw in; I’m used to that).

12. Sotirios Moshonas - December 28, 2009

I would like to add 5 cents to this conversation:

Don’t forget USS Tamerlane, an honourable Star Trek comic adventures of Captain Julie Cochrane and her crew aboard the Saladin-Class starship. The comic series is created by Aabh.

In my point of view, she would be better off with a Kelvin-Class starship instead.

Also another honourable Star Trek comic adventure is Nova Trek. Follow the adventures of Captain Janet Tamera Kirk and her crew of the FSS Enterprise. The 3D comic series is created by Madison Bruffy.

To visit these two honourable mention comic stories, go to:

http://www.usstamerlane.com/MainForum/index.php

Thanks for your time.

13. The First Son of Krypton - December 28, 2009

Good god! You ‘Trekkies’ are so hard to please… its getting to the point where I am literally banging my head against a wall, all you ever hark on about is the beloved canon which, lets all be honest, is bearly even existant in the Prime Trek timeline.

#8 – Spock dosent say in the movie the Vulcan Science Academy built the Jellyfish, he simply says “We outfitted our fastest ship”, why is it difficult to believe Geordi did it?

and the apparent “Random Borg tech makes sense about the design of the Narada. Nero says in his timeline the Narada “Was a simple mining vessel”, how would that be able to stand against the Enterprise? simple, Refit the ship

I dont see how its so hard to piece together the film and comic series together, I loved every aspect of it, yes, at times the art was a little sub-par, but overall good. Countdown is by far and away my favourite comic series of the year and long may it produce spin-offs ala “Nero”

—Rant over :p—

14. Steve Roby - December 28, 2009

Troublesome Minds and Countdown? Really? IMHO, Troublesome Minds was okay at best, and Countdown was a mess of fanwank and stupidity.

But then, I can’t expect too much from an article with a header that defines the books as merchandise. The books are a lot more than just stuff you can buy, like t-shirts or shot glasses.

15. Andy Patterson - December 28, 2009

I gotta get that Nicholas Meyer book. Meant to this Christmas. Behind on all my reading so it may have to wait.

Also I thought John Byrne’s take on the journey of Number One’s career was a great comic book series. He has a great love and understanding of the direction the show may have gone in those days.

16. Sybok's Secret Brother - December 28, 2009

I will have to pick-up a copy of “Troublesome Minds”

I prefer the stand-alone story to the multi-book arcs. The arcs are fun too, but the stand-alones are more like episodes to me. I didn’t care much for the long story arcs in the TV shows either. The thing about Star Trek that is exciting to me is that each week (or book) is at its best when we are actually exploring strange, new worlds and meeting/discovering new life and civilizations… Boldy Going Where No One Has Gone Before.

17. Vorus - December 28, 2009

@13:

A couple of points:

1) The “Jellyfish” is explicitly called a Vulcan ship in the film, and the only people working on it in the flashback are Vulcans, and the ship itself says it was commissioned by the Vulcan Science Academy.

2) Nero doesn’t say his ship “WAS a simple mining vessel”, he says it “IS a simple mining vessel”. If it was, in it’s current form, a Borg-enhanced monster of a death machine, he couldn’t have accurately used the term “is”. Therefore, the Narada is NOT a Borg-enhanced death machine. (Besides the fact that nothing in the film even hints at Borg origins. It doesn’t even self-regenerate, or have beam weapons.)

18. Captain Joe - December 28, 2009

#7 and #8 I disagree. Countdown was a good prequel to the movie, if you interpret Spock Prime’s mind meld as only giving Kirk the information he needed to know, which I do. There is evidence in the film Spock Prime had his own agenda. The fact that he implied to Kirk that there would be terrible consequences if he revealed his existence to Spock (alternate reality) is good evidence of this. If you assume Spock Prime didn’t tell Kirk everything and implied he had no personal relationship with Nero for the purpose of not having Kirk ask a bunch of questions and doubt him more than he already did, then all the seeming inconsistencies are explained.

19. Captain Joe - December 28, 2009

@ 18 1. That still doesn’t necessarily mean that Geordi couldn’t have worked with the Vulcan Scienct Academy to design it and help build it. In fact, I believe Countdown shows Vulcans working on the “Jellyfish”. So there is no definitive contradiction. It’s a matter of interpretation. You have every right to your own interpretation and to disagree with mine and others.

2. That, in my opinion, is nit-picking, but again the issue is open to interpretation.

20. Vorus - December 28, 2009

@20

1) I can see what you’re saying, but the ship itself in the film says that it was commissioned by the Vulcan Science Academy, and the Romulans call it a Vulcan ship. So, it clearly is a Vulcan ship, not a privately-built experimental craft.

Also, Spock says “we outfitted OUR fastest ship”. Who is the “our”? If it was Geordi’s ship, there would be no “our”. Also, what is the “fastest” doing in that sentence? If it was Geordi’s ship, that would mean that Geordi had somehow built the fastest ship in the Federation. If it was a Vulcan ship, it would make much more sense.

All in all, it is quite clear that the film was not written with any of the ideas from the comics in mind, and the comics were trying to squeeze things into the plot that really didn’t fit. (Like someone else mentioned, the pre-existing relationship between Spock and Nero.)

21. Nata - December 28, 2009

I loved “Countdown”, thought it was a superb link between “Unification” and ST-11. Nero’s motivations and his state of mind became crystal clear, and Spock’ characterization is excellent. Loved the art, the plot – it’s just a stellar book.

My son actually bought it as TPB at school on the book fair, and read it first, and then stood over my shoulder while I read it to see my reaction – he loved it that much.

22. Anthony Pascale - December 28, 2009

the ‘merchandise’ subhead in the body was a mistake, because I started with the merch best of article as the template when building this article.

You can read the Best Merchandise article here
http://trekmovie.com/2009/12/24/trekino9-best-star-trek-merchandise-of-2009/

we have a dedicated article for best home video coming up as well. Clearly we dont lump all these things in together. This site reviews and previews all the Trek books and comics, often with exclusives. They have and will be an important part of this site

23. MC1 Doug - December 28, 2009

Great article, Anthony… and Trekmovie staff!!!

I’d like to wish all of you a very Happy New Year! Your site continues to provide great information for us TREK starved fans.

As a writer myself, I particularly enjoy the fact that you are drawing attention to the written word of TREK. Few franchises (as well as this blog), as far as I am concerned, have survived so well because of the great work of its authors.

I want you all to know that I look forward to reading this site on a daily basis and have rarely been disappointed by its content and updates.

Here’s to a great 2010!

24. Christine - December 28, 2009

#14 :: I disagree with your notion on ‘Trek novels. I own many, many of them (probably a few too many) and I think they’re wonderful. Text has a way of digging into characters that just can’t be acheived on-screen. I know they’re not canon at all, really, but some have been written by top-notch fiction/sci-fi writers (Diane Duane, Peter David, for example). I think they add to the series where the script just can’t. Even more so, they continue the story even after the series is done. Take the DS9 re-launch series, for example. It’s literally taken Deep Space Nine to a whole new level — and I love it!

I suppose to each his own, but I think a lot of ‘Trek novels are fabulous. Then again, I’m a book nerd. ;P

25. nate - December 28, 2009

Good article!
I’d agree that Countdown was the best comic mini-series overall, but I’d add 2 categories. Best writer–John Byrne for the Crew mini, and best artist–Gordon Purcell for the Last Generation mini. Love to see more work from both creators at IDW in 2010!

26. Anthony Pascale - December 28, 2009

well the thanks for the coverage of the written word of trek goes to Rob, Alex, Mark, and John. I just herd the cats

27. S. John Ross - December 28, 2009

#18: “#7 and #8 I disagree. Countdown was a good prequel to the movie, if you interpret Spock Prime’s mind meld as only giving Kirk the information he needed to know, which I do.”

Then we don’t disagree at all on those points. I too think that Countdown is a good prequel to the movie (to the point where I consider it superior to the movie), and I agree that Spock Prime’s mind-meld would be an “executive summary,” since Kirk in the film is a useless yuppie douchebag, and there’d be little reason trying to explain anything to such a creature in detail. Just give it enough to get it doing its job: killing things and scratching its crotch.

“If you assume Spock Prime didn’t tell Kirk everything and implied he had no personal relationship with Nero for the purpose of not having Kirk ask a bunch of questions and doubt him more than he already did, then all the seeming inconsistencies are explained.”

It still doesn’t explain why Nero was a character in the comic, and a simple-minded caricature (a cheaper-than-usual cut-and-paste knockoff of Khan) in the movie. It only explains the fiddly details I don’t care about (but that, in fairness, other kinds of fans consider very important, like the bits with the Borg and the Jellyfish, yawn ho-hum).

28. ryanhuyton - December 28, 2009

On the Blu-ray, the pop-up for the Narada in the Starfleet Simulator states that it was a mining vessel refitted with Borg technology. Doesn’t neccessarily make it canon, but in my opinion it should be. Of course, this could be made so by Bob Orci if he chooses to at least make the simulator a part of canon. I hope that somebody (perhaps Anthony) can “convince” Bob that the “Countdown” prequel should be canonized.

29. Adrick - December 29, 2009

@13: “and the apparent “Random Borg tech makes sense about the design of the Narada. Nero says in his timeline the Narada “Was a simple mining vessel”, how would that be able to stand against the Enterprise? simple, Refit the ship”

The simplest answer is, IMO, the 100+ year difference in technology. Remember how easily the Defiant took on the mirror universe fleet? The Narada in the film didn’t have anything that couldn’t have been carried by a 24th century mining ship, and certainly not, as has been pointed out, anything that resembles Borg technology: multiphasic shields, regenerating hulls, etc.

Even if we assume that Spock just neglected to mention his preexisting relationship with Nero, there’s still the issue of the Vulcan Jellyfish ship. In the film, it’s clearly a Vulcan ship: Spock makes reference to “our” fastest ship, the ship itself states that it was commissioned by the Vulcan science academy, and the bridge chair and viewscreen even form the IDIC symbol. And yet in the comic, the Vulcans know nothing about the ship until Picard and Spock send for Geordi, who arrives with the Jellyfish already designed and constructed, and it is said to be Geordi’s own personal ship and design.

Canon isn’t really the issue here, since non-screen Trek has never been part of the continuity, although it does influence it from time to time. It’s just disappointing that more care wasn’t taken to make Countdown a plausible prequel to the film it was directly tied to. I’d like to think the writers just weren’t given enough information, but I wonder exactly what happened here.

30. boborci - December 29, 2009

27. S. John Ross – December 28, 2009
#18: “#7 and #8 I disagree. Countdown was a good prequel to the movie, if you interpret Spock Prime’s mind meld as only giving Kirk the information he needed to know, which I do.”

Then we don’t disagree at all on those points. I too think that Countdown is a good prequel to the movie (to the point where I consider it superior to the movie), and I agree that Spock Prime’s mind-meld would be an “executive summary,” since Kirk in the film is a useless yuppie douchebag, and there’d be little reason trying to explain anything to such a creature in detail. Just give it enough to get it doing its job: killing things and scratching its crotch.

“If you assume Spock Prime didn’t tell Kirk everything and implied he had no personal relationship with Nero for the purpose of not having Kirk ask a bunch of questions and doubt him more than he already did, then all the seeming inconsistencies are explained.”

It still doesn’t explain why Nero was a character in the comic, and a simple-minded caricature (a cheaper-than-usual cut-and-paste knockoff of Khan) in the movie. It only explains the fiddly details I don’t care about (but that, in fairness, other kinds of fans consider very important, like the bits with the Borg and the Jellyfish, yawn ho-hum).

———-

Interesting. Let me ask yo this: Do you buy the federal government’s assertion that Al-Qaeda, lead by Bin Laden, hates us for our freedom? And if not, have you ever expressed your feelings in writing on a web site or to your Senator that to ascribe such motivations to our enemies is simplistic.

Nero lost his whole planet.

31. boborci - December 29, 2009

I guess my point can be expressed in the form of a question:

Why would you hold our escapist fiction to a higher standard than our own reality?

32. Keith R.A. DeCandido - December 29, 2009

Wow. Thanks so much for the nod for “Alien Spotlight: Klingons.” I had a great time writing it, and was overwhelmed by the job JK did on the artwork.

I am deeply honored. Thank you.

33. S. John Ross - December 29, 2009

#30: “Nero lost his whole planet.”

Indeed. Yet-Another-Khan-Knockoff + Bigger-is-Better Mentality = “Our guy is crazy-go-nuts, because his villain origin is like Khan, only all BIGGER and stuff!” Perhaps the next one lost his whole galaxy, plus a yogurt in the staff fridge he’d written his name on and was _really_ looking forward to.

It still doesn’t explain why Nero was a character in the comic, and a simple-minded caricature (a cheaper-than-usual cut-and-paste knockoff of Khan) in the movie. Knowing that he is is not knowing the why, especially when so many other films give us so much better, and respect the audience so much more.

#31: “Why would you hold our escapist fiction to a higher standard than our own reality?”

I have been — explicitly and plainly — holding your escapist fiction to a standard set by a specific comic book miniseries (Countdown), so if you’re confusing Countdown with reality (or with your own attempt at a political straw-man tangent), that’s between you and your therapist.

That you regard Star Trek as “escapist fiction” is, I daresay, a much meatier topic …

But either way, thank you as always for being generous with your time here.

34. Boborci - December 29, 2009

I think you missed my point. I was comparing the fiction of movie to reality of Bin Laden.

35. Boborci - December 29, 2009

By the way, what was your answer to my 2 part bin laden question?

36. S. John Ross - December 29, 2009

#34: “I think you missed my point. I was comparing the fiction of movie to reality of Bin Laden.”

I think you missed my point. I wasn’t.

#35: “By the way, what was your answer to my 2 part bin laden question?”

It appears in post #33, in parentheses in the third-from-the-last paragraph.

And I didn’t miss the irony. Did you?

37. boborci - December 29, 2009

I’m sorry, I can’t find your answer.

Question was, do you accept the Federal Government’s assertion that Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda hate us for our freedom?

Yes or No?

38. S. John Ross - December 29, 2009

#35: “I think you missed my point. I was comparing the fiction of movie to reality of Bin Laden. By the way, what was your answer to my 2 part bin laden question?”

No I didn’t. No, you weren’t. It appears in post #33 (third from last paragraph, in parentheses).

If you have some emotional need for me to say “Bob, your movie was better written than a George W. Bush propaganda speech,” then I shall heap that faint praise upon you without reservation. Bob, your words make more sense than those of the 43rd President. Your words, and the words of any random lobotomized homeless madman.

But meanwhile, back to the point: Nero in the comic, versus Nero in the movie?

39. S. John Ross - December 29, 2009

If you haven’t the wit to defend your own work, why indulge in these go-rounds?

40. boborci - December 29, 2009

If you have some emotional need for me to say “Bob, your movie was better written than a George W. Bush propaganda speech,” then I shall heap that faint praise upon you without reservation.

_________________

I have no need of such thing. You are allowed to answer, “Yes, I believe that Bin Laden hates our freedom.” From your answer, it appears that you don’t believe that. If you don’t believe that, then my follow up was:

How much time have you spent complaining to your elected representatives about this caricature of evil? More or less than you’ve spent here?

“But meanwhile, back to the point: Nero in the comic, versus Nero in the movie?”

They are the same character. The comic is backstory. The movie is now. The movie references everything in the comic. A blue collar Romulan who was once a good and decent man turns dark after the trauma of what he perceives to be federation induced genocide on his home world.

As for your Khan problem, let’s take a quick tally of things.

1. Khan was always a villain. Nero was not.
2. Khan was imprisoned by Kirk. Nero was not.
3. Khan was a genetically engineered super villain. Nero was a normal blue collar Romulan who was once a good man.
5. Khan wanted only the satisfaction of revenge for his imprisonment. Nero wanted to make sure Romulus could never be harmed by the federation in the new universe after witnessing its destruction in his own.
6. Khan woke up in his future. Nero travelled to his past.
7. Khan didn’t alter the Trek Universe. Nero did.

All I’m missing now is wit.

41. S. John Ross - December 29, 2009

#40: “How much time have you spent complaining to your elected representatives about this caricature of evil? More or less than you’ve spent here?”

Considerably more, of course. What’s more, I didn’t make a high-profile movie implicitly praising it.

“They are the same character.”

I can understand and respect how you’d see it that way.

[Various details about how this film’s Khan knockoff can be distinguished in a criminal lineup from the real Khan, snipped without argument.]

Of course, you skipped the good stuff, alas. And while I’ve quibbled before with #1, that’s just semantics, so fooey on that this time around. So I quibble now only with #7.

“7. Khan didn’t alter the Trek Universe.”

Oh. Oh, Mr. Orci, I wish that were true, I really do. But Khan did alter the Trek Universe in a very serious way: he made it common corporate wisdom that Star Trek movies needed a Khan-like villain, a black hole of creative compromise that few Trek films have managed to escape.

“All I’m missing now is wit.”

I know only your online persona, so I can only comment on that, and on the work. But based on the work: No. That’s not all you’re missing.

But your movie made a lot of money. You did your job and you pleased a lot of people. These little details should be irrelevant to you, so I do sincerely wonder: why so bored today as to be trading barbs with a random fan?

42. boborci - December 29, 2009

41. S. John Ross – December 29, 2009

“Khan did alter the Trek Universe in a very serious way: he made it common corporate wisdom that Star Trek movies needed a Khan-like villain, a black hole of creative compromise that few Trek films have managed to escape.”

Except it wasn’t a corporation who decided to have a villain. It was a fan.

“why so bored today as to be trading barbs with a random fan?”

Because I, too, am a random fan and debating Trek is fun. Also, since I gotta write another one soon, it helps to go back and forth and talk Trek so thanks for indulging. Finally, it helps to discredit your assertion that I don’t respect the audience.

See you on the next topic…

Happy Holidays!

43. S. John Ross - December 29, 2009

#42: “Also, since I gotta write another one soon, it helps to go back and forth and talk Trek so thanks for indulging.”

Whatever gets the juices flowing.

“Finally, it helps to discredit your assertion that I don’t respect the audience.”

I’ve made no such assertion. I think it’s absolutely evident that you respect the audience – and the entire audience, at that – from your activities. A _little_ bit of fan-chatter could be cynically justified as promotion, as damage control on the fanboy front … but the _amount_ of it that you engage in can’t be explained away so simply. You must, therefore, genuinely enjoy it on some level and you must, as evidenced by many things you’ve done and said, have a genuine respect for Trek and for the film’s audience. I do not question this.

It’s your movie that shows little respect for the audience, and I do try (I’m sure I don’t always succeed, but the effort is sincere) to separate the work from the people responsible, and of course I recognize that you are one of a team of creative folk, each of whom lay their imprint on the final (here comes the word) product.

44. S. John Ross - December 29, 2009

#42: And happy holidays right back, of course, and thanks for a fun film (I _did_ like it, you know).

45. Captain Joe - December 29, 2009

#27 “It still doesn’t explain why Nero was a character in the comic, and a simple-minded caricature (a cheaper-than-usual cut-and-paste knockoff of Khan) in the movie.”

You have a point. However, from a real world perspective, the movie was unable out of practicality to develop Nero’s backstory and therefore him as a character effectively. Considering that it was a prequel-sequel-reimagination-reboot within canon and was a box office, and to a point critical, sucess is a near miracle. Sure, Nero works better in the comic. However, overall the movie works, because of the other characters. Still, in the end, Nero as a character works good enough to accomplish his (creative) purpose of creating the alternate reality and bringing Kirk and the others together as a crew. Could Nero have been better developed: absolutely. However, despite its imperfections, the makers of “Star Trek” deserve major props for making Star Trek a bankable franchise again.

46. S. John Ross - December 30, 2009

#45: “You have a point. However, from a real world perspective, the movie was unable out of practicality to develop Nero’s backstory and therefore him as a character effectively.”

I disagree that the constraints on the film made the movie literally unable, unless you’re including by extension the skills of those involved among the constraints. Other films, with comparable parameters, have achieved more.

“the makers of “Star Trek” deserve major props for making Star Trek a bankable franchise again.”

Absolutely. Among those who respect money, this team scored a near-total win (with more foreign box office next time, the victory may become complete).

47. Bucky - December 30, 2009

I just don’t get how Countdown is completely contradicted in the film. “this is a simple mining vessel” could be interpreted numerous ways. Spock’s mind meld with Kirk is subjective at best and it wouldn’t cover every single point. “His name was Nero” is another line that doesn’t imply that they first met at the apex of the black hole. “We outfitted our fastest ship” is another line that is open to interpretation. And the damn Narada looks more Borg-like that Romulan. Hell, dig out your Star Trek Blu Rays and go into the vessel simulator section for the Narada, and it says right there that it was upgraded by hybrid-Borg technology.

48. Bucky - December 30, 2009

Anyway, I think Nero’s backstory is fleshed out enough in the comic that it makes his batshit crazy in the movie play better because he’s already BEEN through the traumatic event that changed his life before reel one of the film. (it’s recapped rather… let’s say “succinctly” in the film) So you can get away with it and Bana’s performance has so many variations upon nasty and vengeful that it’s entertaining to watch even if overall it’s just one note. But that single note is gold. Sure, it’s a riff on Kahn (if you’re looking for a blatant reference, it doesn’t get much clearer than Nero yelling, “SPPPPOOCCCKKKKK!!!! SSSSPPOOOOCCCKKK!!!”) but, so far, the 3 best Star Trek movies: Wrath of Kahn, First Contact & Star Trek, have all had revenge themes to them. Are the latter two inspired by TWOK? Yeah, definitely. But just because one movie had a theme about revenge doesn’t mean Star Trek can never do it again.

49. Bucky - December 30, 2009

Oh, and on Countdown I do think the writing and story was better than the art, not to say that Messina is ugly, far from it it’s incredibly detailed and the ships looked fantastic. But you could tell specifically what promo shots he was using for reference in almost all the panels. (the Vulcan science academy is on the same angle as when Spock meets them in the movie, Nero reacting to Romulus being destroyed is the early, low angle promo photo of Nero minus his pointy stick, tattoos, and his eyes wider to show surprise. Even the first panel of Nero getting his tats in issue 3 is taken directly from the face-closeup of Eric Bana/Nero used in the posters. You can go through the entire series and practically see where all the reference came from). Messina can cobble together all of these diverse elements to give it a distinctly cinematic flair, but he’s really just IDW’s version of Greg Land. But at least Messina doesn’t use the same damn poses like Land does over and over and over…

50. S. John Ross - December 30, 2009

#48: “Bana’s performance has so many variations upon nasty and vengeful that it’s entertaining to watch even if overall it’s just one note.”

Absolutely; I think Bana did a masterful job bringing dimension to the performance.

“But just because one movie had a theme about revenge doesn’t mean Star Trek can never do it again.”

Indeed, although I think it’s best when a theme is explored instead of simply co-opted and pasted in.

51. boborci - December 30, 2009

50. S. John Ross – December 30, 2009

Word.

52. Adrick - December 30, 2009

Bucky–one could bend over backwards trying to explain the differences between Countdown and Star Trek, but the point is that one shouldn’t have to. Having the two differ on a few points is one thing–compare Space Seed to Wrath of Kahn, for example–but the repeated shoehorning of things like Geordi and the Borg into the backstory of the Abrams film, when the film contradicts both outright, is just annoying.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have LOVED to see the Narada regenerating itself Borg style, or for the computer to have identified itself as coming from the “LaForge Shipyards”, but the filmmakers didn’t go there. I’m still not sure why the comic writers felt the need to.

53. S. John Ross - December 30, 2009

#52: “I’m still not sure why the comic writers felt the need to.”

They may have been instructed to. While the comic writers did the scripting and presumably some of the finer details, the film’s own screenwriters have a “story” credit (or something similar – I don’t have it at hand) in the comic, which (I think?) means that the basic story details were handed down from that source, that the basic structure and critical details of Countdown were provided by O&K.

Exactly how much latitude the comic writers were given, and the exact level of O&K input, isn’t clear just from the credits, though (if anyone involved could clarify, that’d be keen).

54. boborci - December 30, 2009

Happy to clarify. The writers, Tim Jones and Mike Johnson, work for Alex and me over here on the Universal Lot, and we all came up with the story and wrote it together. Nothing in the movie contradicts the comic. The details of the comic were generated AFTER the movie. The concept, however, was not. The inclusion of Spock (Nimoy) is clearly within the framework of his last canonical appearance in THE NEXT GENERATION, where the crew of Picard’s Enterprise assists him in relation to Romulus.

55. S. John Ross - December 30, 2009

#54: Voon!

56. Bucky - December 31, 2009

#52 I think you could also bend over backwards to try to say that the movie flat-out contradicts all the elements presented in Countdown if you want to nitpick it to death. But I think that’s unfair because, to be perfectly honest, practically Every Single Thing Ever in Star Trek in every movie and every TV series could be nitpicked to death. (the changing dates of the Eugenics Wars when referenced in DS9 just off the top of my head. Or even Voyager popping up in the 90s with no Eugenics Wars visibly devastating the landscape.) You see what I mean, it could go on and on.

I just think, as the facts that are presented in the film, there is nothing that would 100% contradict what occurs in Countdown unless you start picking at it and picking at it. But nothing in Star Trek, across any of the movies or TV series, ever stands up to that type of scrutiny, so why should Countdown be any different?

Besides, there’s enough leeway in that mild meld sequence (this is the first time in Trek, ever, that we’re presented with being “inside” a mind-meld which is totally different) that any details glossed over can be just relegated to “it’s a mind meld, it’s weird.” ie. the good old “A wizard did it” standby answer.

Anyway, the Narada being part-Borg is I think one of the more inventive ideas of the comic. Mainly because if you look at the Narada, with it’s big ebony hard angles and the green glow of it’s interior, it totally (probably unconsciously), and just the devastating power of it’s weapons and it’s sheer size, looks very similar to how we’ve seen Borg ships presented. But you don’t see it in in-depth detail in the movie (the Narada regenerating itself) simply because the story didn’t need that to happen. And as for it not acting 100% like a Borg ship, it’s because the Romulan at the Vault said that it was backwards-engineered Borg technology, not 100% slapped on Borg technology.

Cripes, I just sat down with a friend and watched the movie tonight (he is an avowed non-Star Trek fan) and I had a five-minute debate with him why, according to him, didn’t the Captain of the Kelvin send over a hologram to Nero’s ship instead of himself. The whole conversation went something like: “Well, the bad guy has a hologram.” “That’s because the bad guy’s ship is more advanced.” “But why doesn’t the Captain have a hologram and send it over there.” “Cause he doesn’t.” And so on. Like I said, you look too hard, you’re going to find seams in ANYTHING. But where’s the fun in that?

To be perfectly honest, the only continuity glitch in the movie that bothers me is why the Jellyfish states it’s stardate of construction according to the stardate convention (2387) of the alternate reality and not the stardate convention (that would be, like, 64xxxx) of the Prime universe that it originated from. My mental no-prize solution? Old Spock fixed the internal clock of the Jellyfish when Nero was pulling it into the Narada hangar bay. Can’t save the galaxy if your watch is wrong.

See? It’s funner to come up with explanations anyway.

57. S. John Ross - December 31, 2009

#56: “… you look too hard, you’re going to find seams in ANYTHING. But where’s the fun in that?”

In my experience, fans pick when the entertainment isn’t absorbing them. It’s a bit like romance … when a movie (or comic or novel or game, etc) rocks your world, then every flaw is just adorable and endearing, and the thought of picking at those flaws is just nonsensical. When a movie (etc) isn’t quite rocking your world, then those flaws are flaws, and picking at them is [one possible] way of _getting_ the entertainment the movie (etc) should have been providing, but didn’t. It’s the consolation prize of amusement. That’s certainly how I am with ST09 … I paid $X to see it twice and got $0.X value in entertainment from the film directly, and instead of asking for my money back, I can come here, where Bob Orci himself shows up to make the rest up to me so I didn’t waste my cash. How’s that for customer service?

“See? It’s funner to come up with explanations anyway.”

With movies we love, sure. There are one or two details in Avatar that I had to explain for myself, for example, but I didn’t mind because the whole (despite the shopworn nature of many of the parts) rocked me. Every time I see Avatar, I find _more_ to appreciate about, it and less to fuss over. With ST09, in my case, the curve goes the other way (which is why I stopped watching it, so I can preserve my appreciation of the parts I like). If ST09, or Countdown, rocks you, then it becomes fun – even an act of fannish affection – to play the game of providing the spackle for the little seams.

I really think our indulgence in these matters is directly proportionate to the impact of the whole. If the whole pleases us, the details can be waved away with a smile. If the whole displeases us, then every detail is a barb to pick at.

58. List of Best of Lists « - December 31, 2009

[…] TrekMovie.com – Trekin09 – Best Star Trek Books & Comics of 2009 […]

59. BiggestTOSfanever - December 31, 2009

I’ve already read those on Melcat!

60. Alex Fletcher / Sulfur - December 31, 2009

@32: The single best issue of the year was the easiest thing to choose from the comics.

The toughest was the series. I waffled between Byrne’s Romulans series and Countdown. I spent a lot of time waffling in fact. I finally settled on Countdown because of the amount of frothing and interest in the upcoming movie that it created.

Did it mesh perfectly with the movie? No, not quite. Was it a perfect series? Nope.

Did it heighten our interest at the time? Definitely.

Is it something that still creates interest and debate? I direct you to about 2/3rds of the comments above as the answer to that one!

61. G.S.Davis - May 6, 2010

@ #12

Thank you for the nod, Sotirios Moshonas! :)

—G.S.Davis
Tamerlane

62. Sotirios Moshonas - May 7, 2010

To Mr. G.S. Davis:

You’re welcome, Sir. I apologise for not giving you the proper credit for creating your comic stories. I assume it was Mr. Aabh created the USS Tamerlane stories. My Error.

Sir, I will stick to my opinion that Captain Julie Cochrane would better command the Kelvin-Class starship (TOS Style – not JJ 90210-style)
USS Tamerlane than the Saladin-Class/Scout-Class USS Tamerlane. The registry number will remain the same. It is just the last two stories, the ship took a heavy beating and looks like she won’t come back.

Keep up the good work, sir. Look forward to your next story. Live long and prosper, Mr. Davis. Long life and happiness.

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