Things come to a head, Mac meets mirror-Mac, both get zonked out, tears in the universe appear, and things get destroyed… maybe. This week we finish off the last chapter in Peter David’s latest New Frontier comic series with a final review. Plus we have the latest news in the world of Trek comics.
REVIEW STAR TREK NEW FRONTIER: TURNAROUND #5
As past readers of this column will know, I’ve had very mixed feelings, overall, about this series. At the start, I was quite skeptical about how approachable this would be for the Star Trek reader that hadn’t read the New Frontier novels. This category of people included me. I found the first couple of issues very difficult to get through, since all of the back story and characters were almost completely unknown to me. However, by the time I got to the third issue, I’d figured out enough of the characters to be able to pay attention to the story and not have to worry as much about all of the asides that Peter David added into each issue to fill out the overall New Frontier storyline even more for his dedicated readers. The third and fourth issues built up the story, gave us some good sub plots, and set us up for the grand climax…which, unfortunately, was a letdown.
So where did it all go badly? Perhaps I’d built myself up for a stirring climax, lots of gun fire, diplomacy, and some clever one-liners, in the true Trek style. Perhaps that’s not the way the New Frontier novels work, because that’s certainly not quite what happened here. The story never stops moving in this issue, but the entire thing reeks of Deus Ex Machina, from beginning to end. Some of this was a bit predictable based on events in prior issues, but it still feels, to me, like a let down from where I felt things had been left after the fourth issue.
Yes, there are lots of explosions, there’s a bit of diplomacy, there’s a strange fist fight… sort of, and there are several injuries. But it really feels like space filler, and that the entire story could have been wrapped up in about half the number of pages that it actually took. For those readers like me, it does still leave several things up in the air, including the fates of a couple of somewhat central characters along the way.
Stephen Thompson continues with his art for this book, just like the rest of the series. Something I noticed in this issue that wasn’t quite as obvious to me in prior issues of the series was the flat perspective that he puts on characters and events seen on viewscreens. It is impressive, and if it’s done by hand rather than with a computer, even better. Thompson’s concept of the rift between universes is interesting and looks like an actual piece of space phenomena.
One other thing that Thompson does well is to capture explosions, fire, and battle scenes. It does seem that his faces are a bit flat and emotionless at times when they should show more, but he makes up for this on a couple of occasions in the story, managing to convey large amounts of pain easily. I think that part of the problem here might be that Thompson is not actually picturing characters that have been portrayed by actors, but only has the prior comic book release and novel covers to go by, and I’ve been told that it is easier to draw changing faces based on real live people as opposed to photographs or paintings.
As an issue overall, this was a disappointing finish to what, ultimately, was an interesting experiment of a series. I’m not sure that it was the best move on the part of IDW due to the sheer quantity of backstory and characters with lengthy histories, but other than that, as I suggested in my review of the first issue, a one or two page primer and/or glossary at the end of that issue, I’m not sure the best way to address this. In the end it is clear that this series was geared towards those already familiar with the New Frontier series, and was likely far more enjoyable to them with all the new twists for the familiar characters. My biggest worry about this series, especially in retrospect, is that casual Trek comic fans may be turned off of future series, believing that they will need to have a huge background in all things Trek, just to understand what’s going on. I hope that I’m wrong.
Cover for Star Trek New Frontier: Turnaround #5
ST: New Frontier: Turnaround #5, the final book of the series, is available now at your local comic store. The trade paperback comes out December 29th and is available now for pre-order at Amazon for $13.59.
Byrne talks more Assignment Earth
John Byrne wrote more on his site about his second (and possible other future) series of Assignment: Earth, noting that he plans to do what he did with the first “and cover the same span of time — roughly 1968 thru 1972 — without going much, if any, beyond it.” One possible concept he mentioned that he may use is having Gary Seven lose his memory cleaning device.
Hollow Crown art news
Tom Smith, colorist for Assignment: Earth recently confirmed that Len O’Grady would be coloring the upcoming Romulan-themed Hollow Crown series, kicking off in September. O’Grady previously worked on the Romulan Alien Spotlight issue with Byrne. Also Byrne released a page sample from the series.
More on that Last Generation X-Men Homage
Finally, Andrew Steven Harris, blogs about X-Men inspired incentive cover for the first issue of the upcoming Last Generation series. He notes how Byrne (who did the original Uncanny X-Men cover) gave his creative blessing and talks about some of the identities of the images on the cover that may not be completely obvious. In a follow-up blog entry, Harris discusses, amidst talk of GI Joe, the cover of the second issue and its inspiration.