Trek Manga — Big Eyes, Small Mouths
In September of 2006, TokyoPop did something that had not been done previously when they released an anthology of five stories from Star Trek The Original Series told in the Japanese ‘manga’ style. For this TrekInk we take a look at the first two volumes of Trek Manga plus we have an exclusive look at the next three from Tokyo Pop.
2006 – “Shinsei Shinsei”
Tokyo Pop’s first effort, "Shinsei Shinsei" (新生新星 or "New Life, New Star") wasn’t completely successful, but featured a variety of interesting stories and artwork. The first, by Chris Dows featured a possible origin for the Borg, while the second, was set in the aftermath of "The Galileo Seven", by Joshua Ortega. Mike W. Barr, author of the first 16 DC Star Trek comics in the mid-1980s contributed a story based on a gender war, while Jim Alexander did a story on a diplomatic delivery gone wrong, and the last story, by Rob Tokar featured the most Manga-esque art, by EJ Su and featured mechs.
2007 – “Kakan ni Shinkou”
A year later, Tokyopop released a second volume, titled "Kakan ni Shinkou" (果敢に進行) or “To Boldly Go”), featuring another five stories. The most notable story, by Wil Wheaton was covered in Andrew Steven Harris’ column last week and was, to my mind, the best of the book. I won’t go into any more detail, as Andrew covered it quite well, so I’ll move onto the second story.
The second story, "The Trial" is by Mike Wellman with art by Nam Kim and tells a story of Kirk being put on trial for both his crimes and his potential crimes. He finds himself in a detention center on Kos along with many other detainees, including a Klingon captain named Kofk. The detainees waiting for trial allows Nam Kim to show a wide variety of species including a Breen, an Andorian, and a Gorn. The story itself isn’t the strongest, but has a rather clever denouement.
The third story is my favorite in the anthology and is titled "Communications Breakdown". Written by Christine Boylan, it is set in the immediate aftermath of "The Changeling", not long after Uhura’s brain was wiped of language and memory by the Nomad probe. It focuses on the steps that she has to take to rebuild her life and reassert herself as the communications officer aboard the Enterprise. On her first day back at work, she detects something wrong with an incoming distress call, but Spock questions her ability to do her work properly. I don’t want to spoil the tale, but suffice it to say that Uhura proves her worth.
For me, the fourth story was the biggest letdown in the book. Written by Diane Duane, "Scaean Gate" tells the story of a monarch from one planet traveling to the planet they are at war with in order to broker peace. The story focuses on Dr. McCoy and his interactions with the monarch and her pet Thirsk, while showing the trials of the Enterprise as they fight off raiders and pirates along the voyage. For me, the story had a lot of potential and started off feeling like a classic episode, but unfortunately it never really seemed to gel, leaving it for me as the weakest story in the book.
The final story was written by Paul Benjamin and takes place on Vulcan at a ceremony celebrating the birth of Surak, the philosopher who took the Vulcans from a feral race to the logical emotionless race that Spock exemplified. At the ceremony, they participants are attacked by a wild animal race, and a young and feral Vulcan boy is found. As time is spent with him, the Vulcans nearby begin to revert to their pre-Surak teachings, Spock included. McCoy is forced to try to solve the problem with an illogical Spock. The final solution is an interesting one, but the resolution almost feels a bit too simple, but still works in the context of the story.
How does the second book stack up to the first? I am not sure that it is quite as good, but the stories by Wil Wheaton and Christine Boylan make this second volume well worth the cost. What about someone who does not read manga books? What would they think of this? I am not a fan of anime and manga myself, and I picked up the first of these on a bit of a lark. By the time that I’d finished the first story, I knew that I wanted to pick up the second volume. These anthologies have a styling expected from the medium, but, for the most part, ring fairly true to the feel of Star Trek.
2008 New TOS + Exclusive Cover and Details
Recently, Tokyopop announced a third Original Series anthology entitled "Aratanaru Michi He" (also termed "Uchu", which means "Universe" in Japanese). Due in July 2008, it is 192 pages long and will feature four 45-page stories. Tokyo Pop’s Luis Reyes gives TrekMovie.com the first details on the four stories.
The first is titled "Bandi", and is written by David Gerrold (writer "Trouble with Tribbles") with art by Don Hudson. Like many of Gerrold’s stories, this is going to be a light-hearted story, and will feature Kirk trying to control his anger. Wil Wheaton returns to write a second story, teaming up with EJ Su once again. The story, "Art of War" shows Kirk dealing with his hatred of Klingons, but for the first time sympathizing too (foreshadowing the peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingons). The third story is called "Inalienable Rights" and is written by Nathaniel Bowden with artwork by Heidi Arnold. This is a tale of morality about a first contact with a race that is not yet ready and will focus more on Scotty. The final story is contributed by Luis Reyes, the editor of the Manga series with art by Nate Wilson. Titled "Sonata", it tells a story of Spock in command and finding it lonely at the top.
TNG getting its own Mangas too!
The second bit of exclusive news from Tokyopop is that there are two Next Generation manga anthologies coming soon. The first will be arriving this October, with a second volume following in February. Authors for the first volume include Diane Duane, David Gerrold, Christine Boylan, and FJ DeSanto.
UPDATE: Wil Wheaton on upcoming Manga
In a new blog post at Wil’s most excellent home on the web, WWdN: In Exile, Wil Wheaton notes that since TrekMovie.com has announced it, he is now free to chat about his next Manga Story (for volume 3). From his post:
Writing scenes between Kirk and a Klingon commander was as much of a thrill as it was a challenge. I knew that I was taking a huge risk with the story, and it was going to live or die based upon how these two guys interacted. I had this awesome and unexpected Writer moment while working on a scene between them, when I just got out of the way and let the characters talk to me. I know it sounds very “ooga booga” but I felt, for the first time in my life as a capital-W writer, like I was transcribing something real, rather than making something up. It was kind of a big deal for me.
Order (or pre-order) Trek Manga
Coming up next week
We take a look at Peter David’s “New Frontier” miniseries.