2007 is the 20th Anniversary of Star Trek The Next Generation, and IDW is planning to celebrate by setting their first Star Trek comic in Jean Luc Picard’s time. IDW is the latest inheritor of the Star Trek comics license (after being owned by both DC and Marvel over the years). The six issue series titled "The Space Between" spans the TNG era, with the first issue taking place in season 1 and the second during season 5. IDW have assigned an experienced team with writer David Tischman and Casey Maloney doing the artwork. Considering that IDW has experience with comics based on media items (such as Transformers and 24) it is no surprise that fans should be hopeful for the future of Trek comics. TrekMovie.com got a chance to speak to IDW editor Dan Taylor and see the first two issues and we like what we are seeing (and hearing).
A new look works…mostly
The art is very stylized, a benefit of IDW and something new with Trek comics. Issue 1 focuses on Data, Riker, and Yar’s adventure on the planet Tigan, juxtaposed with Picard’s adventure from outer space with much of the art focusing on these characters. Most of the characters look great with this stylized art, especially Data. The exception is Will Riker whose likeness is distractingly lacking for the first issue (this minor complaint does not apply to issue 2). IDW’s comic presents the kind of vibrancy that other Star Trek comic books needed. In fact, the coloring of the comic book amazingly adds to the narratives. A good feature of the art is how the ‘guest aliens’ are drawn with careful detail, representing a coherent civilization. The Tigans look like they could have been aliens featured on the show if CGI effects were more readily available during the TNG era. Plus each issue includes at least one “wow” special effect. That such emotion could be culled from a comic book shows that IDW is off to a very good start in representing the look of the Trek universe in a new but respectful way.
*******WARNING SOME SPOILERS******
Relevant stories and more character development
Keeping with the tradition of Star Trek commenting on humanity, IDW’s narratives are both good storytelling and subtle social commentary. Issue 1 deals with the Tigan people who have a type Internet implanted in their brains which they rely on for all their knowledge and history. It is easy to corrupt this system and the comic deals with the discussion of what happens to a people overly dependent on their technology. This certainly applies to our iPod/MySpace/YouTube society. Issue 2 is more of a mystery with an appreciated reference to Star Trek Enterprise. Yet, this narrative is more than mere adventure, with a discussion of human emotions and the appropriate utilization of societal resources. Issue 1 does have some logic problems such as why the Tigan chose the moment the Enterprise showed up to stage a coup instead of just waiting for them to leave. Also, there is a glaring problem with Riker merely telling Data to access the Tigan’s database. First, the Tigan should not let them. Secondly, this is not traditional Starfleet behavior, and is out of character for Riker. Yet, most characters are much like their television versions.
Speaking of character, the comics do an excellent job of delving deeper and giving us good character stories. Issue 1 presents moments with Data that are remind the audience of why the android is a unique character such as showing Data’s early literalism and enthusiasm in a very funny way. More interestingly we see Data questioning his focus on wishing to be human, something the television show did not discuss. It was a given that Data wanted to be human and IDW challenges the audience by showing dealing with doubts. Issue 2 also gives us more character stories by showing us their hobbies only talked about on the television shows. IDW’s comics show a respect for Star Trek characters.
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New editor knows his Trek
Star Trek’s success as a comic often depends as much on good editing as good writing or art. Dan Taylor, editor of the Star Trek comics for IDW, is a Star Trek fan. He watched the reruns of Star Trek in the 1970s, and “completely embraced” Star Trek The Next Generation and Star Trek Deep Space Nine. “And while I’m always up for a debate of who’s a better captain — Kirk or Picard — I’m in the Sisko camp. He was one bad-ass captain, and a single parent to boot. I’m also a sucker for Klingons — by far my favorite alien race” Taylor tells Trekmovie.com.
Taylor is aware of the challenges of Star Trek comic books. “The most challenging aspect of editing Star Trek comic books is making sure that we respect and stay true to what the long-time Star Trek fans love about the science fiction juggernaut while at the same time making the Trek universe as accessible as possible to new and non-Trek fans. As a long-time Trek fan myself, I try to be sure that the finish product rings true "Star Trek."“ The care for details of Issue 1 shows this concern for quality. The Tigan character names all end with C, whether Kadec, Lomac, or Edic. This reminds audiences of the Klingon penchant for utilizing names with K at the beginning. Details like this are fun. This kind of respect for Star Trek is an important aspect of Star Trek comic books success. The best Star Trek feature films and comics respect characters while placing them in new situations. They keep basic designs while showing audiences new vistas and new designs.
variant covers for Issue 1 of "The Space Between"
More info on the new comics at IDW