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TrekInk: Review of Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever #3 + Preview August 26, 2014

by Mark Martinez , Filed under: Comics,Review,TOS , trackback

Barely a week into their time journey, Spock is traumatized, Kirk is spellbound, their relationship is strained, and Beckwith is nowhere in sight. The third issue of Harlan Ellison’s The City of the Edge of Forever makes its way to your local comic shop this week. Read TrekMovie’s review (with spoilers) and a preview after the break.

 

Cover: Art by Juan Ortiz, Subscription cover: Art by Paul Shipper

Star Trek: Harlan Ellison®’s Original The City on the Edge of Forever Teleplay #3
written by Harlan Ellison, Scott Tipton and David Tipton, art by J.K. Woodward, letters by Neil Uyetake, edits by Chris Ryall, covers by Juan Ortiz and Paul Shipper

Story

Finding refuge from the angry crowd in a dusty basement, Kirk and Spock take stock of their circumstances. A friendly building manager lends a hand with a job offer. With food and shelter in hand, Kirk instructs Spock to program his tricorder to find the focal point that Beckwith will be drawn to, in spite of warnings that the calculations will damage the circuitry. On the way home from his dishwashing job, Spock sees the words of the Guardians come to life in the person of Sister Edith Keeler. There’s still no sign of Beckwith, so they keep watch on Keeler.



See Kirk and Spock Stalk.

As predicted, the tricorder’s circuitry burns out. While Spock worries about repairs, Kirk finds them a room in the same boarding house with Keeler and awkwardly strikes up an acquaintance. Spock notes Kirk’s fascination with the charismatic woman.



See Kirk Bedazzled.

Review

Wow! Spock is severely pissy and pedantic in this installment of Ellison’s story. And AARGH!#$@%&! The dialogue includes one of my literary pet peeves. Discussing the probablility of Beckwith’s arrival, Spock says “… until he is drawn to the Keeler woman“. What is with the Spock vulcan and the last-name-of-a-woman woman reference? I realize this is common English language usage, but it makes my teeth hurt. I guess it’s not that big a deal in comics, but I still occasionally see it in present day articles where it simply doesn’t belong. I don’t recall if this line is in the broadcast episode. Anyone remember? No matter. As in previous issues, the story closely follows the original teleplay and we get a less congenial, potentially fragile version of the Kirk/Spock relationship. Spock seems rattled and Kirk is caught off guard by Keeler. Well, ok, Kirk is caught off guard by any attractive woman, but Spock is definitely off-kilter, and haven’t we’ve learned to expect that when he travels in time? Anyway, the Tiptons are keeping the story moving along and I like the edginess in the relationship between the Captain and his first officer. A shout-out to letterer Neil Uyetake. He’s doing a good job handling a lot of dialogue.

I can’t speak highly enough of J.K. Woodward’s artwork on this mini-series. His muted color palette for the depression-era setting is very important to the story being told. When Edith Keeler appears in her sky blue cape, she stands out like an angel. No wonder Kirk is spellbound. I don’t recall this kind of reaction to her on-screen appearance. Equally important is his treatment of Kirk and Spock, featured together in most of the panels. I’m looking forward to what he’ll do when the malevolent Beckwith enters the timeline. I’m also impressed with Paul Shipper’s subscription covers. He’s doing a fine job presenting the iconic characters featured in each episode. As is appropriate for this installment, Juan Ortiz features Kirk meeting Keeler on his stylized cover. I like his covers, but more and more, I’m drawn to Shipper’s work. As I’ve said before, everyone involved is doing an outstanding job and the critical moments are still to come.

City on the Edge of Forever #3 will be at your local comic shop Wednesday, August 27, and available in digital format too.

Preview of City on the Edge of Forever #3

But wait, there’s more for you to read!

A while back, Know It All Joe posted some interesting reading. Joe discusses Ellison’s teleplay and provides copies of a writer’s work draft of the script, a shooting script, and just for kicks, the entire fotonovel of The City on the Edge of Forever for comparison. Disclaimer: I have no idea who Joe is. I found the post while looking for information about Ellison’s script.

Star Trek comics coming in September

Next up from IDW Publishing are Star Trek #37 and City on the Edge of Forever #4. You can pre-order Star Trek comics at a discount from Things From Another World, just click on the banner below.

Find Star Trek comics, toys, statues, and collectibles at TFAW.com!

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.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Li'l Shat
August 26, 2014 2:28 am

The great thing about Star Trek is that it ALL distills back to the original series. That is definitely a good thing, and a saving grace for the franchise.

ObsessiveStarTrekFan
August 26, 2014 3:06 am
Am I the only one who got a sense of cognitive dissonance while reading the preview panels (specifically panel 3)? This no longer gels with all we have learned from the Star Trek movies and various series about Vulcans, their culture, and time as a spacefaring species. I’m not criticising the comic – it is just that so much canon has been built up in the Star Trek universe in the decades since this version of The City on the Edge of Forever was first written. I’ll have to tell my obsessive nitpicking brain that this is an alternative universe… Read more »
Khan 2.0
August 26, 2014 3:42 am

I wonder if we’ll see alternate versions of various other episodes and movies in comics? e.g. Planet of the Titans, Roddenberry JFK Trek II, Bennett Academy Trek VI, Yesterdays Enterprise Generations, Renaissance First Contact, Heart of Darkness Insurrection, Crossover Trek XI, Bermans Beginning Trilogy

& maybe a ‘Phase 2’ series as if the show had been brought back in the 70s without Spock

Chuckunit
August 26, 2014 5:22 am

Stuff like “the Keeler woman” rates right up with “you people” in the pantheon of demeaning language.

Chuckunit
August 26, 2014 5:34 am
Stuff like “the Keeler woman” rates right up with “you people” in the pantheon of demeaning language. Spock is sounding pretty damned bigoted in the preview, too. The original script was written without an idea of whom Spock, Kirk, or any of them were. The story editor or any one of a number of people in the creative chain of command might have made (well, in fact, did make) changes to Ellison’ script if only to keep a sense of continuity of character. This comic adaptation has brought this legendary Trek artifact to light, and I believe less and less… Read more »
Chuckunit
August 26, 2014 5:39 am

One last thought….

I think the landing party returning to a Starship full of pirates is just plain WTF’ery. Calling up for the Enterprise and having it just not being there, or ever having been there not onlu upped the stakes, but was chilling as hell.

Disinvited
August 26, 2014 6:52 am
#0 Mark Martinez – August 26, 2014 RE: Keeler woman It’s a linguistic form of emotional distancing. The Spock character [see what I did there?] realizes that Keeler’s “true” fate will likely reside out of anything that would seem or feel morally or ethically correct in the moment as he and Kirk actually “lives” it. Thus, he logically deduces that forming ties to her as a human being in her own right might interfere with his and Kirk’s mission which very well could be to ensure that the young woman meets an unjust and “untimely” demise. #2. ObsessiveStarTrekFan – August… Read more »
CmdrR
August 26, 2014 8:40 am
Why does the tricorder burn out… or, for that matter, the “stone knives and bear skins” computer Spock rigs in the TOS version? Why can’t the tricorder — which has recorded about 3,000 years of Pharaohs ruling, dictators marching, and paint drying in utter detail — simply play it back on its own? If they said the batteries died, that would probably be better. Then Spock would learn how hard it is to wash enough dishes to afford an eight-pack of Double-A’s. Those suckers are pricey! Love the crap in the basement!! “Canned” laugh track… “I Must Scream” reflected in… Read more »
Melllvar
August 26, 2014 9:18 am

This looks soooooo good. I love the combination of starship styles between George Kirk / TOS era! Amazing. I’m looking forward to this (hopefully) happening even more than the next ‘real’ film hahha!~

And as much as i ALWAYS pay out the nitpickers on this site… I feel the need to point out that the Ares class should have NX rather than NCC :p

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, ey? :)

Melllvar
August 26, 2014 9:19 am

So uhh… my post above was supposed to be on the Axanar page.

Don’t I feel like a prize Pakled.

Adam Bomb 1701
August 26, 2014 10:14 am

Are the actors getting paid for using their likenesses in a comic? It was Leonard Nimoy’s lawsuit over the use of his face (as Spock) on a Heineken billboard that was one of the stumbling blocks to his signing on to to “TMP” back in 1978.

Cole
August 26, 2014 11:15 am

Spock is uncharacteristically acting like a little bitch in this preview.

Disinvited
August 26, 2014 1:28 pm

# 12. Cole – August 26, 2014

” Spock is uncharacteristically acting like a little bitch in this preview.” — Cole

Again, remembering that this was originally conceived at a time where the only two fully-formed Treks for Harlan to go on, were the two unaired (at that time) pilots, which of those two Spocks was HE’s acting uncharacteristically like? Smiley Spock, or “Kill him [Kirk’s best friend.]! Kill him, NOW! ” Spock?

Disinvited
August 26, 2014 1:49 pm
# 8. CmdrR – August 26, 2014 ” Why does the tricorder burn out… ” — CmdrR Basically, because Spock hadn’t thought to have the tricorder do its history search before he entered The Guardians’ time portal, when it could have taken its most energy efficient sweet time for as long as that might take and still enter the portal after that search completed to stop Beckwith. But because he didn’t start it until AFTER it time traveled he had a much tighter deadline available for the device to complete its task, and thus it had to be pushed to… Read more »
Danny
August 26, 2014 2:11 pm
#3 ” wonder if we’ll see alternate versions of various other episodes and movies in comics? e.g. Planet of the Titans, Roddenberry JFK Trek II, Bennett Academy Trek VI, Yesterdays Enterprise Generations, Renaissance First Contact, Heart of Darkness Insurrection, Crossover Trek XI, Bermans Beginning Trilogy & maybe a ‘Phase 2′ series as if the show had been brought back in the 70s without Spock”” Well the last one’s being done as a webseries but unfortunately episodes keep getting delayed or scrapped! As for the above yes to them all! “Yesterdays Enterprise” was never tipped as a movie but they said… Read more »
dayxday
August 26, 2014 2:48 pm
For those of you complaining about the use of the term, “Keeler woman”. Please do not read Huckleberry Finn or look into what the letters in NAACP stand for. You might be offended to find out that there are additional terms, now considered offensive, that were in common usage over the last 100 years or so. The point being: The comic is based on the teleplay that was written in 1966. Complaining about something that is a reflection of the times in which it was produced strikes me as ludicrous…much in the same way thatI consider my son’s complaints that… Read more »
August 26, 2014 3:20 pm

@16

I’ve read Huckleberry Finn. Good book. I’m familiar with the NAACP. I’m still going to complain. Call it linguistic emotional distancing, as pointed out by @7, or whatever, it just sounds dumb when I read it.

Legate Damar
August 26, 2014 3:46 pm
So far, the televised version of the story definitely seems better than the Ellison man’s version. He clearly didn’t understand what Star Trek was supposed to be about-a world where humans have moved past nonsense like selling highly addictive drugs to primitive aliens. For a show set in the 23rd century, and made in the 20th, it seems a bit absurd to assume that humans developed space travel 200 years before Vulcans. Even before First Contact, it was pretty clear that Vulcans were a much more advanced culture than humans. And I’m sure their must have been some references to… Read more »
Disinvited
August 26, 2014 5:47 pm
#17. Mark Martinez – August 26, 2014 I will try to be mindful that somehow for you this is a pet peeve that registers for you much as if Ellison had some how presciently employed the now far more commonly employed “the Keeler b*i*tch” would for me. However it strikes, you do well to be mindful, as you evidently are, of the fact that in the area of the United States known as The South, where I was born and raised, and well past Ellison’s use of it in the 60s: http://www.panola.edu/library/panola-watchman/document/1975/10-05-1975.pdf “David Langford, 11-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs.… Read more »
David G.
August 26, 2014 7:06 pm
#3: I had the exact same thought while attending the Las Vegas Trek Convention about IDW doing this with other episodes after (a) buying and reading the 2nd issue there and — more importantly — (b) paging through the phenomenal “These Are The Voyages” book there and reading about the much, much different original idea for the “Mirror, Mirror” story. (P.S. to IDW: You really, really, really should’ve brought more copies of the Harlan comics — my goodness, seriously a lot more copies of those — to this year’s Las Vegas convention when you had the man himself there to… Read more »
Disinvited
August 26, 2014 7:33 pm
# 18. Legate Damar – August 26, 2014 “He clearly didn’t understand what Star Trek was supposed to be about-a world where humans have moved past nonsense like selling highly addictive drugs to primitive aliens.” — Legate Damar Ellison submitted his first outline on March 21,1966. It was a first season episode. They didn’t even begin filming any of the NBC ordered episodes for that first season until May 24, 1966. Ellison submitted a revision on May 1, 1966. How was he to gain this understanding? From non-existent episodes? Roddenberry, himself, hadn’t finished inventing the thing just yet, and it… Read more »
Disinvited
August 26, 2014 7:37 pm

#21. Disinvited – August 26, 2014

“think” should be “thing”.

“non” should be “none”.

Disinvited
August 26, 2014 7:48 pm

Also the Russians got into space first but we still out advanced them and are the only ones to have gotten men to the moon only to abandon that “advance” shortly thereafter. Being first is no guarantee of anything.

Disinvited
August 26, 2014 8:02 pm

# 23. Mark Martinez – August 26, 2014

” Watson as “the Watson woman” is “disrespectful”.” — Mark Martinez

Coming from an era where “the Watson girl” clearly was meant to so be, I’ll entertain your notion.

But I think it’ll be a longtime before I see Popeye or a plumber named Culligan as being “disrespected. “

CmdrR
August 26, 2014 8:03 pm

14 – Wow, you just invented a totally NEW way for time travel stories to hurt my head.

kmart
August 26, 2014 9:13 pm

21.
You’re very right, and what points even further to this is the first scene in one of GR’s CAGE drafts (maybe an outline?) which has Pike or April kicking a guy off his ship, because the guy got upset by the sight of ugly aliens and started shooting them. Xenophobic murderers serving on the Enterprise? Saints preserve us!

Aurore
August 27, 2014 2:44 am

I would like to thank the Mark Martinez dude for the review.

…Hopefully, he won’t consider this post (of mine) disrespectful…

:)

Aurore
August 27, 2014 3:21 am

@ Mark Martinez.

(In order to avoid any misunderstanding)

@ 28, I wasn’t mocking you over what you wrote.

I enjoy reading your contributions to the site ; I often learn from them.
And, today, in particular, I learned a lot from the discussion in the comments section.

Disinvited
August 27, 2014 4:29 am

#28. Aurore – August 27, 2014

I would like to thank the Aurora dudess for unintentionally shedding light on the struggle I am having with how the masculine form apparently does not carry the disrespect stigma but if it is accurately feminized in the case of a female sailor or plumber somehow it does?

“Olive, the sailor woman.”

“Hey Culligan, woman!” ?

Aurore
August 27, 2014 5:00 am

“…I would like to thank the Aurora dudess for unintentionally shedding light on the etc, etc…”
_____

The “Aurora” woman does have a lot to learn!

:)

Thank you for sharing…

Daoud, The Sinfonian
August 27, 2014 7:00 am
Let’s cut Ellison some slack on this. When he wrote the story outline, Roddenberry still had Star Trek set closer to 2900 than 2200, as many of the development materials (re-read your Making of Star Trek, and World of Star Trek, and Making of Trouble With Tribbles books — “the” reference books of the early 70’s) indicated it was likely 700 to 800 or more years in the future. This explains a lot of the early scripts…. the idea being that humanity had spread out into the galaxy, then retrenched, and thus a United Earth Space Probe Agency going out… Read more »
Legate Damar
August 27, 2014 9:35 am

21-Well, that is why it was rewritten to become a much better episode. I just don’t see the point of adapting Ellison’s early draft, from before it was drastically improved by rewrites. Surely, every episode goes through multiple drafts, but we aren’t getting comic adaptations of the crappy early versions of every story.

Aurore
August 27, 2014 10:07 am
“…@ 28, I wasn’t mocking you over what you wrote. I enjoy reading your contributions to the site ; I often learn from them. And, today, in particular, I learned a lot from the discussion in the comments section.” __________ …Hence the post I wrote ( in jest ) @ 28. After writing it, though, since your tone had been serious during the discussion, I decided to type another comment ( @ 29 ), as I then said, in order to avoid any misunderstanding… …And, now, of course, there is also this very post… …Man…earlier, I should have merely said… Read more »
Disinvited
August 27, 2014 11:53 am
# 33. Legate Damar – August 27, 2014 “Well, that is why it was rewritten to become a much better episode. I just don’t see the point of adapting Ellison’s early draft, from before it was drastically improved by rewrites.” — Legate Damar Well, this is where your assessment diverges from other more experienced judges. Harlan’s early draft script was the one that won the Writer’s Guild Award and not the supposedly “superior” rewritten shooting script. That award, alone, justifies his script, unmodified by others as it was in submission, being realized in some manner, and it is to be… Read more »
Michael Hall
August 27, 2014 1:36 pm
@ 33– “21-Well, that is why it was rewritten to become a much better episode. I just don’t see the point of adapting Ellison’s early draft, from before it was drastically improved by rewrites. Surely, every episode goes through multiple drafts, but we aren’t getting comic adaptations of the crappy early versions of every story.” Well, maybe it’s because the story behind the making of “City” has been a major part of Trek lore for the past 50 years, still relevant to this day only because of the aired version’s status as a classic piece of 20th century American television.… Read more »
Michael Hall
August 27, 2014 1:46 pm

Love the subtle enhancements to Ellison’s original teleplay such as Kirk referring to Spock as an accomplished Ethnologist, and the Tricorder-as-primitive-AI subplot. And while it would have been an interesting creative choice either way, I’m glad they decided in the end to keep the likeness of Joan Collins for Edith Keeler. Whatever Ellison’s personal feelings about the actress, she did well by the role, and it by her.

Legate Damar
August 27, 2014 3:10 pm

36-Well, fair enough, I guess. To be fair, the first two issues aren’t bad, but they really don’t feel like Star Trek. Maybe I would have liked it better if Ellisson rewrote it without using the Star Trek characters, but this story seems to be counter to the very ideology (not to mention continuity, but you can’t blame him for that) of Star Trek.

Michael Hall
August 28, 2014 1:30 pm
My respectful advice would be to judge this take on the story on its own merits, without worrying so much about the continuity or canon issues. It’s true that the characters in many instances don’t sound much like “themselves,” Spock especially. (There are times that actually works to the story’s benefit, as with his genuine consternation at the social conditions during the Depression, but the complaints about his diet of Earth vegetables just make him sound peevish.) The script would have had to be rewritten to fix that in any case, as well as to scale down the huge number… Read more »
Jack
August 30, 2014 3:23 pm
40. Which two changes? It’s 48 years too late for spoilers. That Kirk stopped himself (and Bones) from saving Edith Keeler? Would Ellison have made those other character changes? I don’t know. I do like that he has Rand actually doing something and being a competent officer (compare that to Uhura standing around saying “Captain, I’m frightened.” But the rest of it doesn’t fit into that season (yes, I know it was written in ’66), let alone anything that’s come since. I’ve read that he hated that the script took the mentioned possibility that Keeler’s pacificism might have let the… Read more »
Michael Hall
August 30, 2014 6:36 pm
40. Which two changes? It’s 48 years too late for spoilers. Not at all. The comic book adaptation is ongoing; besides, the Ellison teleplay (and his introduction to it, which specifies the changes which went a bridge too far) is readily available if you really need to know. Don’t make me do your homework for you. :-) I’ve read that he hated that the script took the mentioned possibility that Keeler’s pacificism might have let the Germans win and made it the concrete reason that she had to die (but he had it there in the draft script in the… Read more »
Jack
August 31, 2014 3:17 am

Ha. Fine. I’ve read the teleplay — not his intro. So he changed it? I thought it was the original?

Okay, anyone know when (and how often) Roddenberry said the Scotty-drug thing? At conventions? Interviews? I’d been reading everything I could find about Trek since the early ’80s and hadn’t ever heard that. The concordance (or the compendium!) mentioned Beckwith…

Jack
August 31, 2014 3:21 am

I also don’t get the Richard Dix joke. Is it just that it’s Richard with Dick(s)?

August 31, 2014 8:37 am
Yeah I’ve always just assumed that Uhura was frightened because that’s what Janice would have said and then you go back and think hang on, Janice should have rocked in that episode, why would someone go back and change it to make the woman (now Uhura, a senior officer) and make her weak and afraid. I aplaud the vision to use Rand as a competent character and lament the fact that in nearly 50 years almost nobody has tried to carry that trhough. I admit that I miss the Guardian of Forever in the story and some elements, such as… Read more »
CDR Arch
September 1, 2014 7:09 am

My comics request is to see a few of the best Trek novels turned into graphic novels. My top 4 requests would be: Black Fire, The Final Reflection, Web of Romulans and Entropy Effect. I wonder how difficult it would be for IDW to get rights from Pocket Books? Ashes to Eden was the best Trek comic ever made IMO.

Disinvited
September 1, 2014 2:55 pm

#45. CDR Arch – September 1, 2014

As CBS owns all those publishing entities outright, I don’t think securing those rights for its IDW wing would be any tribble at all.

Jack
September 3, 2014 8:00 am

45. My enemy, my ally.

Jack
September 3, 2014 11:40 pm
“He clearly didn’t understand what Star Trek was supposed to be about-a world where humans have moved past nonsense like selling highly addictive drugs to primitive aliens.” — Legate Damar This whole “humans have moved beyond” idea is a misreading of TOS (one Roddenberry perpetuated and one which nearly sunk TNG). It’s also bad for storytelling. More than that, it’s just silly. Sure, society can move beyond such nonsense. And, sure, education, opportunities, relative economic equality (arguably) and culture can push individuals away from such nonsense. But there will always be greed and assholes (and TOS acknowledges that there are… Read more »
Keachick (Rose)
September 4, 2014 1:11 pm
#48 – “Other misreadings of TOS: that Kirk was a maverick/rule breaker. Kirk pretty much followed the rules. He was never irresponsible or impulsive. He didn’t enjoy officious bureaucrats. But he took procedure and rules seriously.” Yes, I agree, Jack. There were times when TOS Kirk appeared not to follow the rules to the letter, as with the Prime Directive at times. However, the rules here have always been open to varying interpretation. Just because he chose not to necessarily follow a particular rule did not mean that he did not take it seriously. A situation could present as requiring… Read more »
Disinvited
September 4, 2014 3:22 pm
# 48. Jack – September 3, 2014 ” What doesn’t entirely make sense is that this would be going on, without detection, for so long on the Enterprise. Especially when we’re talking about getting entire races hooked on the stuff during Enterprise visits.” — Jack Tell that to Ben Finney or crewman Norman. And as for contraband on the Enterprise, who and how did tribbles get a pass in regards to being allowed on board? And didn’t Mudd manage to smuggle some controlled substance (Venus drug?) pass the transporter that he used to enhance women in MUDD’S WOMEN? But again… Read more »
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