So, it’s here…the history of Star Trek on comic books, over 500 comics, all on one small five inch plastic and metal disc. Graphic Imaging Technology has just released Star Trek: The Complete Comic Book Collection on DVD ROM. The burning questions… how is it, what does it really entail, how easy is it to use, is it worth it? Oh… and… how cool is this!?
As reported in our preview of Star Trek: The Complete Comic Book Collection, GITCorp has been busy scanning (almost) every single Star Trek comic, cover to cover, including all of the advertising, all to be stored in individual PDF archives on a single DVD ROM. I must say, having played with this set for about a week now, I am impressed! Everything is here, right down to the ads. I was reminded of my comic reading youth, the only thing missing was the tactile feel of the musty paper.
The interface on the set is fairly simple, and it starts starts automatically on a Windows machine with Acrobat Reader installed. They recommend at least version 7 (versions below 6 will display a Trek logo on each page as a watermark designed to show up when printing). On a Mac, you have to actually open the “Start.pdf” file inside Acrobat. On this opening screen, which is a PDF in and of itself, are several links of interest. The “History” takes you to a small essay about the history of Trek, “Bios” shows very brief biographies of the main characters from each series, and the main one, “Comic Books” takes us to the meat of the product.
The “Comic Books” link takes us to a screen with the five major publishers, and each of those links takes us to the list of comics included from each publisher. As I was wandering through this section, I was amazed at some of the extra bits and pieces that were collected for the set. For example, in the Gold Key section, some extra covers are included, and the extra bits and pieces included in the four Enterprise Logs books are also included, but the stories themselves are not reprinted within.
In all, the interface is simple to use, even if it does open a new window for each new menu/screen, and even if it doesn’t open the windows quite large enough for the actual PDFs to fully display. The lists of comics are quite detailed, and when you go to an actual series to read one, you get a PDF showing you each and every cover of each issue. To read an issue, click on the cover. Simple!
An example of the scanning done for WildStorm’s “The Gorn Crisis”
Each issue is scanned in a two pages per single PDF page, as can be seen above. There are occasional sections of the page where the colors lighten toward the spine, but this tends to only happen on the thicker trade paperbacks and the hardcovers. Oddly, GIT chose not to scan all of the Enterprise Logs from the Gold Key era, books that compiled earlier issues, but did choose to scan the complete collections for every other era released (DC Comics and WildStorm to be precise). I’m not entirely certain why this was the case, but that’s the way that it was done.
In addition to all of the included comic books, GIT saw fit to include the Peter Pan Records comics as an added bonus. This series was 11 stories long, all on record, and six of them had comics published, containing some of the most amusing gaffes in Star Trek comic book history. This was a nice addition, but it would have been very cool to have actually included the audio of each story too, although I expect that licensing rights there would have been problematic.
Speaking of licensing rights, I’ve noticed two issues missing, “Star TreX”, and “Second Contact”. These are the two issues done by Marvel comics that crossed the Star Trek crews with the X-Men of comic book fame. Missing out on these was unfortunate, but at the same time, it’s no great shakes. One other thing missing is the US and UK comic strip series from the LA Times and Joe90 Magazines (respectively). According to GIT, they were unable to sort out the licensing issues for these publications in time for release, but they hope to be able to release them in the future.
While these PDFs are all password protected so that you cannot export images, you are able to print them, although, as mentioned above, a Star Trek watermark appears on each page. I guess that this is so that we can’t print them with three or four colours of vegetable ink on cheap newsprint, add in a glossy cover, staple it together, and pretend that these are original comics. Of course, the “TM & © 2008 CBS Studios. All Rights Reserved.” stamped at the bottom of each page might give it away too. Fortunately, the printing does look pretty good and the watermark is relatively unobtrusive. I’ve included an image of Kirk’s entry in the first DC Comics “Who’s Who” issue as a example of what the page looks like with the watermarking when printed. (Note that the image above is a printed page that was scanned back into the computer.) Each PDF is already configured to print the two pages together on one piece of paper in a landscape format. The first issue when I printed it took 27 pages for a 52 page issue.
As can be seen in the image here, the quality of the images is pretty sharp. This image was zoomed to 300% in Acrobat, and then a screen shot was taken. At 400%, serious pixelation began to occur on the screen. The images are pretty sharp, but, as expected, it’s likely best to read them slightly magnified on a larger monitor if you have one available.
Overall, this set is mint and well worth picking up if you’re a fan of the Star Trek comics. The set is well produced, consistently good in terms of quality, and an excellent set to have on your shelf if you ever want to check out some of the older comic books out there. The box’s cover art may not be as good as it could, but it’s what is contained within that counts. In my opinion, the ones most worth reading are the second series of the DC Comics, the WildStorm, and the Malibu DS9 series. But don’t take me at my word as to which series are the best, hit up Amazon below, and get the set for a paltry $39.99!
Get your collection
Star Trek The Complete Comic Book Collection DVD works with both Windows and Macintosh computers. It is available for order now from Amazon for $39.99.