TrekInk: Review “New Frontier” #1

TrekInk this week breaks into a "New Frontier" with the first issue of Peter David’s "Turnaround" mini-series (due out this week).  This story introduces an action-packed tale of Edward Jellico, Mackenzie Calhoun, and a stolen ship with a fancy new propulsion system. A must-have for fans of the New Frontier novels, but what about those new to the storyline?

If you know "New Frontier", you can skip straight to the review below. Otherwise here is a quick primer.

Star Trek: New Frontier is a series of almost twenty novels, short stories, and comics written by Peter David that focus on a new set of characters, set in the TNG era. In a recent interview with Newsarama, David described New Frontier thusly:

The original concept, as conceived by [Pocket Books editor] John Ordover, was to take the dissolution of the Soviet Union and transfer it to science fiction terms. In this case, the Thallonian Empire dissolved, plunging the entire volatile area into chaos. Old rivalries and wars that had been kept under wraps under Thallonian domination reignited once the Thallonians were no longer in power. Starfleet has assigned the Starship Excalibur, commanded by the maverick Captain Mackenzie Calhoun, to ride herd on the territory.

The main characters of note are Calhoun, captain of the Excalibur, his wife Elizabeth Shelby (the same one from the Best of Both Worlds episodes), Mark McHenry (a descendant of the child of Apollo and Carolyn Palamas from Who Mourns for Adonais?), Burgoyne (the first officer), Morgan Primus (the consciousness of Robin Lefler’s mother, inhabiting the ship’s computer), and Robin Lefler (now ruler of the New Thallonian Protectorate).

I must preface this column by admitting I have not had a whole lot of experience with the "New Frontier" series, other than the previously released "Double Time" graphic novel from the fall of 2000, and it certainly appears that a lot has changed in the series since that story.

REVIEW: NEW FRONTIER #1

Now that we’re all caught up, Peter David is continuing the "New Frontier" story from the latest novel, Missing in Action, in a new mini-series titled Turnaround, with art by Stephen Thompson. The story throws us right into the midst of events, with barely a breath caught for any character introduction. For me, not having read the novels, this was a bit tough to play catch up with, but for someone who reads the series, this should not cause them any trouble at all.


Taking starbase sabotage to a new extreme… starships included! (click to enlarge)

The story begins by introducing us to a new starship, the Paradox (DRI-01). This ship has a new style of propulsion, something called a "shunt drive". This new drive, according to the story "bends time, causing instantaneous transport from one point in space to another." We are also re-introduced to Admiral Jellico, last seen (by me) in the Chains of Command episodes. His introduction is short and violent as he makes off with the prototype ship, setting a series of events in motion that has Mark McHenry send a vision to Calhoun of the Bravo Station and USS Excalibur being destroyed. Before long, Calhoun and his ship are on the trail of Jellico and the stolen vessel.

Stephen Thompson provides the artwork for this series, and all of the variant covers for this issue. The really fascinating set is the "quad cover", which features the eight main characters for the story across four separate covers, all attached to the same retailer incentive copy. The best cover, however, features Peter David sitting in the Captain’s chair on a Galaxy class starship bridge, with Kirk and Picard at the helms, and Peter David’s Fallen Angel at the weapon console.


I’m not entirely certain what Lefler Law this one is… but it seems rather abrupt
(click to enlarge)

Thompson has done his homework, as the characters look quite similar to those presented by Michael Collins in the "Double Time" graphic novel, just having aged a few years since the events of that story. I recognized Jellico almost immediately from the drawing before he was identified in dialogue, and the same went for Robin Lefler (portrayed by Ashley Judd in her two Next Generation appearances). I did not, however, recognize his portrayal of Shelby, but I’m willing to attribute that to the circumstances in which she appears in the story. Thompson’s most striking pieces of art in the story are the opening page, which is one space vista, broken into three segments to show the passage of time, and the starbase exploding (shown above). His art is mostly character bound, but when he leaves the environs of starship or council chamber, his vistas are most effective, as he does not limit himself by comic panel.

Leonard O’Grady provides the colors for the issue, and, like Thompson, is at his best on the initial space vista and the exploding starbase. His other best scenes are those in Shelby and Calhoun’s half-lit bedroom aboard Bravo Station, culminating in a transporter kiss. The shading is simple, but quite effective. Unfortunately, the artwork in this scene does not always live up to the standard set elsewhere.


Shield or spatial rift? Or maybe just a hole in time… (click to enlarge)

The issue serves as an excellent introduction to the series, setting up the mystery. Some portions seem a bit heavy handed and overdone, but that may also be attributed to the style of the "New Frontier" series, I cannot be certain. For me, the story leaves a bit to be desired, and leaves open a number of issues for non-readers of the "New Frontier" series, but I am hopeful that these issues will be addressed in further issues in this mini-series. I can definitely recommend this for regular readers of the novel series, but would not recommend this as a starting point for those unfamiliar with the characters and events, as you may find yourselves as lost as I was, and be forced to read the story 3-4 times to get the gist of things.

Star Trek New Frontier #1 will be in comic stores starting this Wednesday.

NEW FRONTIER PREVIEWS

Stephen Thompson has covers for issues 2, 3, 4 on his blog:

https://trekmovie.com/images/comics/stnfcov2.jpg https://trekmovie.com/images/comics/stnfcov2.jpg https://trekmovie.com/images/comics/stnfcov2.jpg  

A 2 page preview from NF#3 is on Chris Ryall’s blog:

https://trekmovie.com/images/comics/stnfcov2.jpg
 

 

Coming up next week
Something else interesting and utterly fascinating in the world of comics.

newest oldest
Notify me of
Red Shirt

I love all things Trek, but this, I dunno, just seems like high dollar fanfic. Don’t think I can go for this.

Very nice art work from the artist of this comic series

I had enough trouble getting used to all the crews in the TV spinoffs. I don’t have the time nor desire to read all of their print adventures, so no way am I getting into a new series with a crew unknown to me. It might be excellent, but I only have so much room in my brain for Trek and what’s out there is more than I can handle now. In fact, I’m retreating back into the TOS comfort zone more and more lately.

CmdrR

Leftler’s Laws live? Is that something you’d really want to practice for a lifetime?

Lt. Carolyn Palamas got an Olympic k’noodling??

And when — WHEN? — will starfleet engineers learn to install circuit breakers and prevent stuff from blowin’ up??

Cool stuff for a rainy weekend sometime…

Wow. Carolyn gave that up in short time. Wonder if Apollo stayed normal size or made a hand big, or something. No wonder Scotty was upset.

So far everything that has come out under the IDW banner has been high quality. I”m going to give this a shot.

Ed

I for one can’t wait, love New Frontier.

The Lensman

“In fact, I’m retreating back into the TOS comfort zone more and more lately.”

Myself. While I’ve enjoyed much 24th century spin-off stuff for years, in the long run, all I still really care about is originals, 60’s Trek. To me that still defines Trek. While I can enjoy the later stuff……the idea of never seeing any of it again just doesn’t bother me at all.

8

That’s all it’s ever really been about to me. A grand day has is always a Star Trek marathon on a rainy day.

[The] TOS Purist aka The Purolator

I lose interest in a “Trek” spinoff as soon as I hear/read the words “…takes place in the TNG era.” Honestly people, after 526 episodes, four movies, and an interactive ride/experience in Las Vegas, don’t you think we’ve had ENOUGH of the TNG era? Just a little?

Garovorkin

This new frontier would make a good televsion series, This should have been a candidate for the next trek series.

DavidJ

10

I’m no TOS purist, but….. agreed. I just have no interest in the TNG era anymore. It’s been explored to death.

That said, I did love Peter David’s work on the older TNG novels and TOS comics. And the original New Frontier miniseries was excellent too.

DEMODE

Surprised no one has ever used these characters for a fan film

Oregon Trek Geek

Say…. how about paramount have a mini-series of New Frontier? All new ship, all new casting… and like with BSG, a mini-series could lead to a series. I say get Ron Moore to do it. JJ can be involved if he wants, or he can just stick with the TOS movie reboot.

Now wouldn’t that be totally cool (and–hello paramount–profitable)? :)

Petey

New Frontier has very little to do with TNG, actually. The phrase “set in the TNG era” simply means that Peter David is tying this brilliant new series into established continuity so that it doesn’t seem like your run-of-the-mill fanfic.

I thought the revelation that Mark McHenry was descended from Apollo was a great way to make a nod to a seemingly self-contained TOS episode.

And of course, Jellico, Shelby and Lefler were some of the most prominent supporting characters in TNG’s seven years.

I’m looking forward to this one.

mntrekfan

I really like the “New Frontier” series. If they ever did a live action action version of the series, i think Dylan McDermoot would be perfect as Calhoun. Check the link below:

http://entimg.msn.com/i/150/Movies/Actors/DylanMcDermott_150x200.jpg

Looks good! I read the first New Frontier novel, and part of the second one … I’m not sure why I never finished; I recall enjoying it. Just laid it aside and lost track of it, I suppose.

NZorak

Peter David wrote some of the best Next Generation to be found in novels, and I personally prefer the Next Gen era as opposed to the TOS or Enterprise eras. I’ve read the first few New Frontier books, and while they aren’t horrible, I think he went way too far with the diversity in it.

For instance, Burgoyne, the engineer (when it starts) comes from a sex crazed hermaphrodite species, and s/he proceeds to seduce a vulcan going though pon farr as well as Mark McHenry. Calhoun and Shelby must get married along the way, because they were ex-lovers at the beginning of the thing, and all this leads to the problem that quite a bit of the books I’ve read concern themselves more with their romantic exploits that the back story.

I’m not saying that Trek needs to be prudish like we see in Next Gen, but a little bit goes a long way, you know.

Peter does write some great comics – his Hulk is always excellent- so I was thinking-

If only Peter David had thought of this shunt drive prototype earlier he could used it to cross universes, travel to, (and save Brice Banner from) that ridiculous Planet Hulk!

mc trekkie – you have inspired my mind to go where its never gone before – mixing the Trek Universe and the Marvel Universe. Now that would be pretty awesome.

Casting would be easy – Patrick Stewart could easily play two key roles :)

19- Bones-

I am ASHAMED that I know this – but a few years back the X-Men tangled with Gary Mitchell.

No I’m not kidding!

The X Men hitched a ride on the Enterprise to go fight this guy.

Turns out Mitchell had merged with a Marvel Universe creature of some sort.

Spoliers:
http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Star_Trek_-_X-Men

Oh and if Peter David is lurking (as he is a huge Trek fan) – Welcome back to She hulk! (and I’m sorry for what that Pak dude has done to YOUR Hulk).

I look forward to reading this New Frontier issue tomorrow.

Even More Marvel Irony- The ship in this comic is called “Excalibur”

J Michael Strazinski Producer of Crusade and Babylon 5 – Also featured a ship named Excalibur and he too now writes comics for Marvel

@ mntrekfan

Actually, Mackenzie Calhoun has been portrayed once before by an actor:

James Cawley, (Kirk from Star Trek: Phase II) did portray him back in 2006 – or was it 2005? – in the 5th episode of Star Trek: Hidden Frontier`s 6th Season called “Vigil”.

Complete with TNG-Moive-Era Uniform and Scar. (No purpel Eyes, hoewer, I doubt that they would have look good on the screen due to the camera-Quality).

Now THAT was great. Romulans, Shelby, Calhoun, Lefler (okay, Joanne Busch is NOT Ashley Judd but she`s doing a fine job).

http://www.hiddenfrontier.com
http://excelsior2.hiddenfrontier.com/Queue.aspx?FileID=135

And I read that some fans are going to do a complete New Frontier Movie. But it`s still in the pre-production; they don`t even have got a homepage yet.

Well, I admit that Peter Davids New Frontier novells are quite a mess from time to time and certainly NOT the Star Trek-Stories some of you grew up with. But that`s the fun of them. For me, Calhoun is the coolest Starfleet Captain of all times. This Cowboy-William_Wallace-Renegade Stlye is so cool.

Okay, Morgan Lefler (aka Number One from “the cage” aka Nurse Chapell – according to Mr. David) is a copy of Lexa Doig`s Character “Andromeda”: Dead, but her mind controlls the ship; she appears in holographig form; etc, etc. Not very original but okay.

And in his last 2 novells he did mess up with the “continuity” we grew acusstomed to – he set a dely of 3 years in his books; now there did happen a lot in these “3 years” and he did not even tell us what happened at all; just took us readers on the ride and that was it. But still NF are my favourite Trek-novells and PAD-Guy is my favourite Author!

I can`t wait untill these comics are available on AMAZON-Germany and/or be sold in a collectors edition.

Stephan,
Bavaria, Germany

@Bones (McCoy) Thugs & Harmony: Patrick Stewart…played by Stewie Griffin, perhaps? :D