John Byrne once again displays his love of Star Trek with his latest “lost episode,” which deals with a society of people that hides their faces. But when the Enterprise comes across one of its missionaries in deep space, the crew becomes part of a larger cultural issue.
Religion and politics rarely make for good conversation, yet it has always been fodder for Star Trek. John Byrne returns with his latest Star Trek New Visions tale – “The Hidden Face,” about a society that masks their visages from each other to stop the sin of vanity. It would seem the Prime Directive would be clear in such matters, and yet with Kirk, it is never so cut and dry.
Even with words such as “heretics” and “infidels” screamed at the Enterprise crew, it takes them a bit to realize that their “naked” faces offend the planet’s missionary they have rescued. Upon arriving on the planet, Kirk decides that the landing party should mask themselves, so as to not affront cultural norms. Star Trek has often portrayed different cultures as a way to broaden humanity’s understanding of one another. Its tolerance of those ideas have taught viewers to embrace differences. Yet, Kirk ultimately chooses to bring the idea of human freedoms to the people of this world.
Art is consumed through the lens of the reader’s experiences and world in which they live. With religious fanaticism threatening society on a daily basis, it is difficult to not see modern parallels to words of this comic’s missionary, Turan-Tot-Narut, a zealot of his planet’s teachings who calls the members of the Enterprise crew apostates.
Kirk’s decision to beam down to the planet could be seen as problematic. It does bring to mind one of his finest monologues from The Original Series when he explains that “risk is our business” in “Return to Tomorrow.” As he did in that episode, McCoy is the one to discuss caution in “The Hidden Faces,” this time in regards to whether or not contact with this race is warranted. It’s hard to not recall Kirk’s speech when he decides to make contact with the race nonetheless – although it does feel right.
Improving his photomontage stories with each outing, Byrne’s continues to refine his manipulation of stills from TOS. The lifelong Star Trek fan also has the character voices down pat, which makes reading his New Visions tales feel like lost episodes; “The Hidden Faces” adding another terrific edition to the show’s legacy. New Visions is truly a must read for TOS fans who crave new content – as Byrne’s story does not disappoint.