The third part in a series on IDW’s Final Frontier adventures in the Kelvin Timeline.
Four issues into the beginning of IDW’s Star Trek Ongoing series, focusing solely on the adventures of the Kelvin Timeline crew established in the 2009 film, and all that was offered to readers was adaptations of select Original Series episodes. The next two issues in the run would offer more of the same, as Mike Johnson would retell the classic episode, “Operation: Annihilate”, albeit with a twist. However, the fun for readers would come in issues number seven and eight, as Johnson was able to tell the first original story set in the new timeline.
“Operation: Annihilate” featured in Star Trek Ongoing #5-6 remains faithful to the main plot of the original episode, although there are some unique variations. Rather than just beginning with a mission to the Deneva Colony, the Kelvin Enterprise is trying to solve a mystery of why the inhabitants of several planets leading to Deneva are suffering from a mysterious ailment. Johnson continues to expertly capture all the actors’ voices from the new film series, while Joe Corroney supplies excellent visuals and actor likenesses. There is one moment when Corroney illustrates a redshirt security officer, Zahara, whose head turns so quick that the artist shows her hair in motion from the movement. It’s art like this that just elevates the story to another level, especially where readers might take for granted they know all that there is to come.
Emotions are running high as Kirk arrives at Deneva, only to discover that his brother, George, is now living on the planet with a wife and nephew. Johnson includes a nice prelude to the story as the issue opens, throwing readers into the consequences of a young Jim Kirk’s trashing of his father’s care from the film. Another opportunity at giving the tale its own unique Kelvin slant is Spock’s continued “risk taking” behavior, in which he is called out upon by Uhura. This is something that will present itself in Into Darkness, and while this may have been a coincidence, it’s nice to see the characters carry over issues from one issue to the next.
Concluding three-straight episode adaptations, former Bad Robot employee Johnson (working in conjunction with series creative consultant Roberto Orci) provides the first unique story to the Kelvin Timeline, one in which is born out of the events from the 2009 film. Just as he did in his “Operation: Annihilate” story, Johnson supplies a perfect entryway into the series for new fans and readers, who may have just become Trekkies after the film.
“Vulcan’s Vengeance” might throw TOS and longtime fans overall into a tizzy, as the plot surrounds the recovery of any trace elements of red matter from the Narada explosion at the conclusion of the 2009 film. Johnson sets up an early mystery, although there are several instances where he litters the narrative with the breadcrumbs necessary to fully realize what is happening. For decades, many fans of Star Trek have taken for granted the logical way in which Vulcan society conducts itself. However, Vulcans still possess emotions; they are just experts at not allowing them to the surface or to control their actions, which is at the heart of this new story.
Huge surprises are in store for readers as Johnson pulls out all the stops in this original arc from Star Trek Ongoing #7-8. Johnson continues to establish himself as the Kelvin Timeline writer, he is joined once again by artist Joe Phillips. As was the case before, Phillips’ likenesses of the actors are not as exact, and his storyboarding is not the strongest. Additionally, where new character appearances were established in previous issues (like Nahara in the arc prior), Phillips might draw them differently. Once again, Phillips’ work is good, yet a shift of art can sometimes lose readers on a new series.
All in all, Star Trek Ongoing Volume Two offers fans the best of both worlds, providing readers with another classic adaptation from TOS, as well as telling a brand-new and entertaining story where all is definitely not as it appears. What might be even more surprising than the twists in “Vulcan’s Vengeance”, is not the final outcome, but the open-endedness to the story, which was not always the case with previous Star Trek stories told in the medium.