With IDW Publishing’s Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who crossover mini-series just over the horizon, TrekMovie takes a look at past Star Trek comic crossovers and asks, Is it Trek? If you’re prone to high blood pressure over the sanctity of the Trek universe, please consult a physician before reading this article. There be crossovers ahead.
Wikipedia defines a fictional crossover rather dryly as the placement of two or more otherwise discrete fictional characters, settings, or universes into the context of a single story. Ask a Trekkie about a crossover with some other discrete fictional universe and you’re just as likely to initiate enthusiastic discussion as you are to be shoved into the nearest agony booth. Comic book publishers have no qualms (some would say no shame) about rounding up two fictional universes and taking them for a spin. Let’s take a look at Star Trek crossovers from the past.
Star Trek/X-Men #1
Star TreX, December 1996
Written by Scott Lobdell. Art by Marc Silvestri, Billy Tan, Anthony Winn, David Finch, Brian Ching, Matt Banning, D-Tron, Aaron Sowd, Joe Weems, Victor Llamas, Team Tron, Jose Guillen, Viet Troung, and Mike Manczarek. Colors by Tyson Wengler, Steve Firchow, and Jonathan D. Smith. Letters by Dennis Heisler. Edited by Bobbie Chase and Polly Watson.
Investigating a spatial rift, the Enterprise returns to Delta Vega, where Kirk buried his good friend, Lt. Gary Mitchell (Where No Man Has Gone Before). Before you know it, seven X-Men are beamed aboard from an exploding spaceship, an alien vessel arrives with Deathbird and Gladiator who claim Delta Vega for the Shi’ar Empire; while Proteus bonds his psionic energy with the remains of long dead Gary Mitchell and starts reshaping reality. Kirk, predictably, hits on Phoenix (aka Jean Grey) when Cyclops isn’t looking.
Created by a cast of thousands (ok, a dozen artists at the very least) as part of the kickoff for Marvel’s Paramount Comics imprint, celebrating Marvel’s 35th anniversary and Paramount’s 30 Years of Star Trek, Star Trek/X-Men #1 was received with mixed reviews. I found Scott Lobdell’s story a bit confusing because I’m not very familiar with the long history of the X-Men and their many villainous foes. I believe that some familiarity with the X-Men is required, in order to be amused by the pairing of Starfleet and mutant personnel, otherwise some of the dialogue doesn’t make much sense. With so many artists participating in the penciling and inking, Kirk and his crew take on different appearances from one page to the next. This comic is a tough read. If I had Wolverine’s adamantium claws, I probably would have torn the comic to shreds in frustration. The best part of the comic is a fanciful seven-page Star Trek/X-Men pin-up gallery by artists not participating in the story itself. I could list all their names, but my keyboard is tired. If you want to read this comic, you’ll have to hunt down a back issue because it’s never been reprinted and was left out of the digital Star Trek comic collection published back in 2008.
Star Trek: The Next Generation/X-Men #1
Second Contact, May 1998
Written by Dan Abnett and Ian Edginton, penciled by Cary Nord, inked by Scott Koblish, colors by John Kalisz, letters by Chris Eliopoulos, edited by Timothy Tuohy and Julio Soto.
After successfully defending Earth and the timeline from a Borg attack (Star Trek: First Contact), the Enterprise and its weary crew try to return home, only to find themselves back in orbit around 1990’s Earth, in need of repairs. Sensors detect Shi’ar technology, which would help with repairs, so away teams investigate and meet the X-Men. Kang the Conqueror interrupts their discussion about a serious rift in the time/space continuum and convinces a skeptical audience that all realities will collapse if immediate action isn’t taken. Only timely intervention by Wesley Crusher and the Traveler prevent Starfleet/X-Men teams from repairing reality into oblivion.
Second Contact, the second time around for Marvel, Star Trek, and the X-Men, is marginally more successful than its predecessor because Next Generation crewmembers seem to have more in common with the X-Men than original series crewmembers. Writers Dan Abnett and Ian Edginton have a good handle on the interaction between characters and the story flows smoothly. Yes, Wesley sort of saves the day, but this time around, it makes sense that he can. The time tale also benefits from more consistent artwork. There were so many artists on the first crossover that it compromised the story. The comic was published with two covers, including a wraparound cover painted by Vince Evans and also has a couple of pin-up pages. Like the original series crossover, this comic hasn’t been reprinted. You’ll have to look for it in the back issue bin.
The last panel of Star Trek: The Next Generation/X-Men #1 is a cliffhanger epilogue of sorts. The comic has concluded, but readers are directed to the novel Planet X, written by DC Comics Star Trek: The Next Generation scribe Michael Jan Friedman, published May 1998 by Pocket Books. I read Friedman’s novel immediately after I first read the comic and I don’t remember anything about it except the amusing twist at the end. If you would like to read it, you’re in luck. The novel was reprinted in trade paperback April 2012 and is also available in a Kindle Edition.
Star Trek: Infestation
Written by Scott Tipton and David Tipton, art by Gary Erskine and Casey Maloney, colors by Luis Antonio Delgado, letters by Chris Mowry, edited by Tom Waltz and Bobby Curnow, cover art by Gabriel Rodriguez, John K. Snyder III, Jason Wright, Casey Maloney, Gary Erskine, Luis Antonio Delgado, David Messina and Gordon Purcell.
In another dimension, a zombie hive-mind takes over a beautiful blonde vampire who opens portals to four other dimensions, allowing the infestation to spread. On a diplomatic mission to the planet Calibus, Kirk, Spock and McCoy find the entire population infected and zombified. Surrounded and attacked on all sides, the remaining Starfleet personnel hole up in a laboratory to search for a cure. The lab is staffed by intelligent robots who explain that their creator, with some nefarious assistance from a mysterious blonde, spread some kind of cybernetic-human infection. McCoy comes up with a cure, but can’t deliver it until after the fanged beauty returns to give Kirk a good beat down.
Billed as a crossover event between several of IDW Publishing’s licensed titles (Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Pocket Gods, Zombies Vs. Robots and CVO: Covert Vampiric Operations), the Infestation story line is more of a framing device, setting up the circumstances for each universe to handle the infestation meme in their own way. Star Trek: Infestation is told in two issues by veteran Trek writers Scott and David Tipton. The story stands on its own, as a modestly entertaining episode. You don’t have to read the other Infestation comics to enjoy the Star Trek tale. The art by Gary Erskine, with layouts by Casey Maloney, is solid and suitably creepy. The cover paintings by Gabriel Rodriguez and John K. Snyder III are outstanding. One of them pays tribute to the original painted covers used for Gold Key Star Trek comics. Infestation has been reprinted twice, initially as two trade paperback volumes, then as a single hardcover. I recommend the hardcover if you want to read the collected Star Trek story, since you will have everything Trek-related, including the many variant covers and zombie pin-ups in one convenient package.
Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes
October 2011 thru March 2012
Written by Chris Roberson, pencils by Jeffrey Moy, inks by Philip Moy, colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr., letters by Robbie Robbins, Chris Mowry and Shawn Lee, edited by Chris Ryall, cover art by Phil Jimenez, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Keith Giffen, Scott Koblish, Gabriel Rodriguez, Steve Lightle, Mike Grell, Mario Alberti, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Mike Allred, Laura Allred, Jeffrey Moy and J.K. Woodward.
A team of Legionnaires from the 30th-century and crew members of the Enterprise try to return home but find themselves on 23rd-century Earth, the heart of the rapacious and power-hungry Imperial Planets. In order to find the way back to their respective timelines, they must first learn to trust each other and identify their ancient adversary, then they must discover the source of time anomalies in the distant past while stalling for time in the very hazardous present.
I read all of the crossover comics again for this article, including this recent story arc, and I haven’t changed my opinion. Chris Roberson’s work on Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes was outstanding. He melded two fictional universes together with passion and humor. The same is true for the artists, the Moy brothers, and colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr. The cover art by a multitude of Trek and Legion veteran artists was spectacular. This six-issue mini-series will be collected in hardcover this summer, but you can probably still find them on the shelves of your local comic shop.
Is it Trek?
Crossovers aren’t every Trekkie’s cup of Earl Grey tea. Publishers are willing to pursue the rights to create them because they are generally profitable. Do they do anything for readers? That depends entirely on personal interests and taste. I was underwhelmed by the Trek/X-Men comics. I thought Star Trek: Infestation was better than most of the Star Trek comics published last year (but it was a very lean year). I was amused and entertained by the most recent crossover with the Legion of Super-Heroes. Is it Trek? With 45+ years of television episodes, movies, toys, novels, comics, fanzines, fan fiction, conventions, YouTube video and much more under our belts? Absolutely. How can it not be? There. I said it and I’m unrepentant. I’m also looking forward to a visit with the Doctor. How about you?
Mark Martinez is an obsessive-compulsive Star Trek comics reader and collector. You can visit his website, the Star Trek Comics Checklist for more than you ever needed to know about Star Trek comics.