TrekInk: Looking Back (and Forward) At Trek’s Return To Comics

NEW FEATURE: In the last year Star Trek made its comeback into comics and with more and more issues coming out every month, 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.

Data, wondering if Humanity is worth it…
possibly foreshadowing his future sacrifice in Nemesis. (click to enlarge)

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.

Kirk pointing out the obvious (click to enlarge)

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.

A favorite Romulan Captain makes his return from Beyond the Rim
(click to enlarge)

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."

Never ask a Borg queen to dress as a princess
(click to enlarge)

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! welcomes Alex Fletcher as our new Comics Editor. Alex is also the leading editor for comics at Memory Alpha.

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Comics rule! And I’m FIRST!

Pretty cool!

I picked up the alien spotlight issues so far, as well as “Blood Will Tell.” I’m very, very impressed! I haven’t had a chance to read “The Space Between” or “Year Four’ yet… I’d love to get the New Frontier adaptation though! I love the ‘verse created by Peter David.

But I’m Number One.

OK, that New Frontier cover is *weird*.

I’m having a hard enough time figuring out why it has Kirk and what would appear to be two versions of Picard on the cover, but what’s Lee from Fallen Angel doing there? Is it just a Peter David/IDW gag?

They’re all pretty damn good. Too bad I didn’t make the cut to talk about them here, though. :-(

I just can’t get into the comics. Like the novels, they are not ‘real’.


I want to thank Alex for his first column and look forward to more.

Chris…dont give up. As I mentioned in another thread and my article yesterday, this site will have a diversity of columnists and guest columnists. For example Andrew Sullivan (and editor at IDW and avid Trek comic guy) will be doing some columns on the history of trek comics and some retro reviews from Trek’s comic past

I’m not a comic guy, but the likenesses of the TOS characters seem a lot more accurate. I didn’t know that was Data in the TNG one until I read the dialogue. I assume the female is Yar?

Yes…not sure what is going on with that New Frontier cover…it looks like Dick Van Patton is the capatain with Kirk and Picard at the helm and ops

OK, since everyone else has taken a crack at it.
New Frontier caption:

Midshipman Kirk and Ensign Piccard are brought together by Jean Grey as Phoenix to helm the Enterprise-D under the command of Lee Iacocca.

Actually…….it looks like Ed Asner.

We’re doomed. ;-)

Cool column.

Comics cost too much.

RE: Intel Gath 2 Cover / Looks like Dick Cheney being guided by his muse, while Barak Obama is navigating (for change?)

I disagree about the Havok/Wolverine comment. John Jay Muth’s artwork bears no resemblance to Sean Murphy’s within “Alien Spotlight: Borg.” Muth used watercolors with heavy emphasis on shadowing. From the angles to the layouts, there’s little to no match between the two artists.

And I disagree with the Data/Yar comment. No, it’s not a perfect summary of their relationship. It is a well-done summary of Data’s observations about life and living.

IDW has a looooong way to go before I start buying their issues on a regular basis. The artwork is often amateurish; the writing is medicre. Aside from Gordon Purcell’s latest contributions (yay!) these Star Trek comics have been VERY lackluster.

Thanks Alex, for the Beyond the Rim comment. *tear*

sean murphy’s art is unusual? ô_o how?

Sorry. Thought my comment was relevant to the discussion.

In terms of Sean’s artwork, I just found it so different from the “typical” “realist” style of Trek comic art (other than N-Vector), it struck me as a bit odd. It, for the most part, worked in the context of the story. And yah, it’s not exactly like the Havok/Wolverine art, but that was the thing that it reminded me most of, despite the totally different medium (computer colouring vs watercolours is just the start of it!).

Kirk’s Girdle: It was a very intentional reference. If you’ll notice the bit that Anthony accidentally left in the text too “(Image: GKar makes a return.jpg)”… whoops. :)

Lastly… the New Frontiers cover features:

Ensigns Picard and Kirk with Captain Peter David, and the Fallen Angel at the weapons console. As I understand it from the blurb. :)

Yay for TOS Romulans.

Comics cost too much.

This might be the last year that we have depictions of Shatner, Nimoy, DeForest etc as the NCC-1701 crew. So I’m enjoying it while I can :)

IDW definitely has some talent issues to resolve. I was drawing better looking Star Trek comics when I was sixteen than Steve Conley did in Star Trek: Year Four.

any news on the series that was gonna be sorta like Star Wars Tales? where youd get stuff like Kirk vs Borg…Picard v Khan etc

Note… #19 is me (the author). I posted under the wrong name by accident.

mada101: I’m sure that we’ll continue to see those depictions for some time to come. Especially when it comes to portraying the “older” crew. For their “early voyages” type activities? I have no real issue with them being portrayed as younger… like them actor folk from that ol’ new movie that’s comin’ out or summat. :)

OregonTrekGeek: Yes. The female is Tasha Yar. As noted in the paragraph before it talking about the two panels.

And related to that… AgreeToDisagree: I do agree with you, it definitely summarizes Data’s philosophy, growth, etc, but at the same time, it also does summarize their relationship. He was always striving to be more Human, especially around her, and she was happy to be there and experience that growth and awakening with him. Until she got munched by a giant tar puddle, of course.

Cool article. I like Gordon Purcell’s art work.

I don’t really do the comics, but I do want to give my praise to Mr. Fletcher for a feature well done.

Alex. Didn’t see the G’Kar .jpg reference you mentioned above anywhere, but it is nice to see Andreas’ distinctive likeness living on in comics.

Gotta say… I’m becoming a big fan of David Messina’s artwork.

re: 21. Sci-Fi Bri – February 4, 2008
“Comics cost too much.”

I agree. ;)

I look back fondly to the Gold Key series of Star Trek comic books.

Yeah, they may not have adhered that well to the Star Trek format and had some really bizarre stories, but back then that’s what we had. I miss those simpler days of yore. :)

And the Gold Keys didn’t cost that much :)

#23 Steve Conley has always had a simplistic art style which was well-suited for his black & white space adventure comic, Astounding Space Thrills. I thought it was fantastic and was excited when he was brought on to do Year Four; although the odd choice of using only four panels, widescreen-style without any deviation was more off-putting than the art. It also hindered the story telling capabilities of the issues. This I suspect was the writer’s choice and not the artist choice because Purcell’s issues follow the same pattern.

I am glad that Purcell is returning to Trek. He’s one of the few, if only, comic artist to work on at least three iterations of the Trek (TOS, TNG and DS9). He has a great knack for likeness. Now if they can get Arne Starr to ink him, IDW would be in like flint.


I don’t think so. There will always be writers, artists etc. who prefer the original delineation as there will always be a public for original ST, as well as those who will depict the characters as shown in the new film. To meet a new demand and include it into the marketing mix doesn’t mean abandoning a market which has been there for 40 years and is still alive and kicking.

that drawing of kirk at the top looks more like a young kyle maclachlan than bill shatner… but maybe thats just me…

the guy drew leo nimoy pretty well, though!

I assume once the movie comes out and the masses embrace it, it will be the end of official comics about the REAL Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Enterprise.

As for the problems some of you are having with the likenesses on the pictures above, I would guess you don’t read comics much. As a cartoonist, I have to say, expecting photorealistic likenesses of all the characters all the time in a comic is just not realistic or necessary. So long as you can tell while reading the comic who everyone is, and what they are feeling, that should be enough. Besides, I think those likenesses up there are great, I recognize all of them right away.

” 6. last o’ the timelords – February 4, 2008
I just can’t get into the comics. Like the novels, they are not ‘real’.

I’ve always felt that way too, but some that I’ve seen, like Greg Cox’s “Eugenics Wars The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh” and some of the comics were super fannish fun.

I certainly won’t ever buy a comic or book about the reboot Enterprise and crew, and nobody will be writing books and comics about them 40 years from now.


Does anyone else gets this on the New Frontier-Cover?

I mean the character of Lee from Peter Davìd`s “Fallen Angel” Comic book Series at tactical, Kirk and Picard all low-ranking officers doing the driving and who is in the captain`s seat?

No one else than the author, Mr. Peter David himselfe. Without his beard I hardly recognized him.

Too funny!


Welcome to the fold! I enjoyed your column this week and was glad to see that Gordon Purcell has done some new Trek of late. I don’t currently collect the Trek comics (I was very dissapointed by the first issue that IDW put out in the TNG run and haven’t bothered since), but I loved the second DC Trek run.

My favorite comic series, though, has to be the Early Voyages work that was so sadly cut short when Marvel and Paramount split ways back in the 90’s and killed the book right in the middle of a story.

Look forward to seeing more from you on comics in the coming weeks and months!


As always, Sulfur, very good work. ;)