TrekInk: Look Back (+ Exclusive Look Forward) At Trek Manga

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.

EJ Su’s classic Manga style artwork of Chekov and Sulu (click to enlarge)

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 General’s aide knows that the Zhorans will… do something. We think.
(click to enlarge)

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.

Dr. McCoy gets to examine a feral Vulcan boy. The real question is… if he’s a feral Vulcan, does that not make him almost Romulan? (click to enlarge)

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 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.

EXCLUSIVE: First look at the cover from Tokyo Pop’s third Manga
 (not final…click to enlarge)

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 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.


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yikes… first??? i don’t know what to do…

Once again, a testimonial fact that Star Trek and its various incarnations are truly universal: IDIC–infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

I’ve never been a fan of Manga. It’s hard to read what is suppossed to be a serious story when the art is sooo cartoonish imo.

the manga is cool they just need to put the command scince and enginiring

Aside from the fact that I predfer my adults in Trek’s to look like adults rather than wide eyed 12 year old boys and girls, Trek really needs to be experienced in color. Especially TOS, where colors are vibrant and pop off the screen.

The black and white line work in these manga books would be fine for a coloring book but aren’t very complimentary to the fictional world of TOS in my opinion.

I honestly can’t fathom the attraction, other than the fact that it is so radically different that some read it just to be different. Like # 3 said above, how can you take the story seriously, even if it IS a good story with that style of illustration. Definately not my cup of tea.

Wasn’t that a weird character on Saturday Night Live?

As someone who enjoys a bit of manga occasionally and who loves TOS, I do delight in the subtle ironies on display here ;) #3 and #5, I’ve heard your exact comments from some younger fans applied to TOS itself with just a few key words changed (“How can you take the story seriously with those cheap old-style sets and FX?”)

And my answer to both, with a sly wink, is: Oh, I manage somehow. Maybe give it a try sometime and see …

Trek in in Manga Cool!!

I cant wait for the LEGO trek movie

#2 Neeeeeeeerrrrrrrrddddddd

#7, I agree wholeheartedly with your perspective of the critics! “Why so serious?”

Guess I’m getting old but I don’t get manga.

I hope that someday this stuff will also published in Germany, Star Trek Comics are rare there …

#7 “(”How can you take the story seriously with those cheap old-style sets and FX?”)

I guess I can because I don’t feel the sets (aside from the planet sets) look dated and I’m equally comfortable with the original FX of TOS.

As far as Manga goes, I’d love to hear why Manga fans embrace the genre. Do they honestly like and prefer the same-ness of the characters? Or is it the cute-ness of the little cherub faces on evryone? Lots of people love carebears and the little red haired girl Strawberry Shortcake. I don’t like them either…but I realize “cute” sells and there is a certain target demographic that eats it up. Are the stories really so good that it’s better than reading a novel or a more conventional color graphic novel, despite the B&W cartoony and cutesy characters? Is it because it’s a niche that only certain people enjoy and you like being included in that group? Is it because there is a lot more stories and even though they are black and white, they are cheaper so you get more bang for your buck? Is it because you were raised on Pokemon and Dragonball Z and it’s the only style you’ve ever known so it’s like comfort food?

I know exactly why I don’t like it and the genre will survive just fine without me. I’m just curious as to why so many love it so.

I have been a manga/anime fan for 10 years now (and trek for about 20), but somhow i don’t think those two should be mixed. It just seems strange to me. As for why i love manga: There are some with really great stories and designs (imo), and not all artists draw their characters with those huge eyes. They just tend to exaggerate emotional expressions. Also, the stories are often told much slower and thus have more depth to them. I tried reading American comics (I’m from Germany), but the artwork often seem awkward and the stories rushed. (I liked “Watchem” though). Dragonball, Sailor-Moon and those kind of manga/anime are fine to amuse oneself for a short time, but the real masterpieces are mostly unknown to the general public: Try reading “Lament of the Lamb”, “Victorian Romance Emma” or “Monster” or watch “Perfect Blue”, “Ghost in the Shell” or “Samurai X” (just to name a few with a little more serious style).

Heh. Weird.

you have to admit certain aspects of trek lend themselves nicely to the style and story telling and visual humor found in Manga

Good gravy. (Shudder)

Manga’s crap!

#17 “you have to admit certain aspects of trek lend themselves nicely to the style and story telling and visual humor found in Manga”

Oh no I don’t! lol

aw common you mean to say that if they did a manga with a tribble themed storyline you all wouldn’t go ga ga over it? Everyone Think Hello Kitty

… goes to show those Manga people can’t actually draw.

Hey guys I hope all of you realize im not being serious about any of this, yeah I know I went to far with the idea of Manga with a tribble themed storyline, your right silly. I actually had in minde a Trek Story dealing with Trelane, and i would have him drawn in a Manga mock Heroic style. In all seriousness I think It’s is something you either like or don’t there really is no middle ground on this one. Many Serious Comic book people don’t tend to take It all that seriously, and I can understand that one.

I can’t wait for the third volume. The first two felt kind of strange, but they weren’t bad by any means. When you have different stories and only a limited amount of space to write them, it does end up feeling a bit short, I guess. But it’s still great to have two of my favourite things (Star Trek and Manga) together at last!

#14: I think you’ve misunderstood my intentions. I wasn’t asking you how you can love TOS … I love TOS myself, as I said. If my point wasn’t clear, I suppose it’s best if I just leave it to others to try ;)

Su’s drawings remind me a lot of “Astro Boy.” Anyone remember *that* one?

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

#26 oh yeah I remember the original animae series, AstroBoy along with such classics as Gigantor, Prince Planet and of Course the most famous of all Kimba the white Lion which was probably the inspiration for Disney’s the lion king movies

Troi in manga.
oh yeah!


I found AstroBoy on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim back during the holidays. Man, was that ever a blast from the past! It aired on Sunday at 2:00 a.m. I haven’t checked lately to see if they’re still carrying it.

And it seems that everyone else on the planet has seen Kimba but me.

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

Check it out: “Mirror Universe,” an art exhibition of Star Trek inspired works by Devorah Sperber, opening at Caren Golden Fine Art, NYC, on March 20, 2008.

Gallery web site:

Images and text:

David Gerrold’s story is called Bandi? Well, better later than never. He described a story concept by that name in his 1973 book “The Trouble With Tribbles;” it was one of several episode ideas he pitched to Gene Coon.