NEW FEATURE: In the last year Star Trek made its comeback into comics and with more and more issues coming out every month, TrekMovie.com will now devote a weekly column to them. This first TrekInk column takes a look IDW’s first year including reviews of January’s comics. Plus we have some previews for upcoming issues.
Trek Comics Are Back
On January 17, 2007 IDW published the first issue of "Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between," the first Star Trek comic book published in close to six years (not counting Toykopop’sStar Trek Manga collection, but that’s a topic for a future column). Although this first issue featured some sub-par cover art (especially compared to the standards that they’ve since set) and an awkward story, it also hit high points on characterization and internal artwork. IDW showed right off the bat that they ‘got’ the characters. For example, they summed up Data’s character and his relationship with Yar almost perfectly in just two panels.
Since then, IDW has (just about) completed four miniseries, and they’ve just started a new series with more on the way. There are now 24 issues published to date, spanning the time from Spock’s first mission with Pike through to the time shortly before Star Trek: Nemesis. Admittedly, not all of the stories have been successes, but there have been more of those than failures.
The issue set earliest dealing with Spock and his early interactions with Pike’s Enterprise crew shows us just how different Spock really is, something that the early TV shows tried to convey, but didn’t always manage to do. The "Year Four" series brought back memories of the original crew, but was seriously limited by the 4-panel page construct chosen…you just cant tell a 45 minute story in 22 pages. On the other hand, the "Klingon: Blood Will Tell" five issue series managed to innovatively rewrite four Original Series episodes from the point of view of the Klingon villains. Not only did it tell a good story, but it gave the reader something to think about next time those episodes are watched. The new "Alien Spotlight" series, which comes to a conclusion with the John Byrne scripted and drawn "Romulans" issue next month, takes several alien species and writes stories about them in times not covered by the television series. This series manages to make us feel for these characters while making them truly alien. The Andorian and Orion issues were good action stories in the classic tradition of the "monster of the week" episodes, yet both both give a hint of what lies deeper.
IDW’s January Issues
Last month "Year Four" came to a finish, with Gordon Purcell providing the artwork for his second issue of the series. He did the pencil art for almost forty issues of DC’s Star Trek comics in the early 1990s, and still shows a strong feel for the look of characters, especially Shatner’s Kirk. The story feels like one of the episodes from the classic series, but isn’t as strong as some of the other issues in the series. Despite this, it still provides an interesting dilemma for the crew, and a number of some small references to previously seen Star Trek episodes.
Also in January IDW began a new series entitled "Intelligence Gathering". Written by the authors of the Klingon mini-series, the series is set during the fifth season of The Next Generation. The first issue presents some good interactions between some of the characters, especially Data and Riker, the focus of the story. The story also touches on some more of the aftermath of the classic Next Generation episode "Measure of a Man". With art by David Messina, the other main contributor to the Klingon series, The Tiptons have found the third leg of their triumvirate. Messina seems to know what they are looking for in each panel, and in what appears to be a combination of classic hand drawing and computer graphics, finds that balance in the alien world that is the Federation’s new supercomputer with memory banks located inside an extra dimensional tesseract.
Leaving the best for last, the second last issue of the "Alien Spotlight" series was released, focusing on the Borg and their latest plan to assimilate the universe. Unlike the other issues in the series, this one pays more attention to how the crisis affects Picard who still deals with his time in The Collective. The story captures Borg and Picard well while still able to touch on new dimensions. It ends with a nice twist foreboding possible future storylines, and then a moment where Picard agrees to dress up as a princess with a young girl who recently lost her mother. Unusual, but not entirely unexpected.
Andrew Steven Harris, the regular editor of the line handed over his editorial duties and took up his pen to write this issue and the entire storyline gives an eerie and creepy feeling. Setting the story shortly before the events of Star Trek Nemesis, Harris is able to use all of the crew of the Enterprise everybody knows, and also manages to introduce Janeway to the proceedings. Sean Murphy’s artwork isn’t my favourite, but with the way the greens, browns, and greys run into each other, the artwork brings across the alien terror of the Borg very successfully. The artwork was among the most unusual and non-typical of the Star Trek comics to date, remind me a lot of the old Marvel Comics Havok and Wolverine graphic novel titled "Meltdown."
All three January issues meet the high standards of the IDW series to date, but unfortunately, the quality of stories varies, with one being not bad, one being decent, and the last being fantastic. Regardless, this bodes well for the upcoming issues in the two series, and the future plans for what IDW is calling the "Second Stage".
Intelligence Gathering 1 & Romulans 5-page previews
Click images to see IDW 5-page previews for the latest issues
New Frontier Cover
Artist Stephen Thompson has some previews for the New Frontier Issue 1 (click to see more)
Intelligence Gathering 2 Cover
Artist Joe Corroney has cover art preview from "Intelligence Gathering" 2 (click to see more)
Coming up next week
A review of an upcoming comic, plus a random combination of a look to the past and a look to the future. What does that mean? Wait for a week and find out!
TrekMovie.com welcomes Alex Fletcher as our new Comics Editor. Alex is also the leading editor for comics at Memory Alpha.