Library Computer: Review – “Star Trek Countdown” Trade Paperback

Today is the official release date of the of the trade paperback for the comic series, "Star Trek Countdown," the prequel for the new Star Trek movie. Many fans held off from reading the individual issues (reviewed here at TrekMovie), awaiting the TPB. So this week the Library Computer takes a bit of a side-trip to review the graphic novel and find out if it was worth the wait.


REVIEW – Star Trek: Countdown (Trade Paperback Edition)


[Warning: This review contains spoilers]

To appreciate the storyline of Countdown, one must first be able to accept the format in which it is told. Unlike a novel, the graphic format relies as much on still-imagery as words to convey the tale. Countdown is largely successful, with strong, recognizable art permeating the pages. A far cry from IDW’s first TNG comic book, Countdown shows outstanding graphic composition and a storyline to match. The story, while brief and very contained in scope, depends on the art to bring it to life. David Messina has done an outstanding job of developing an artistic vision for the series, and the color palate of Giovanno Niro gives a moody edge to the entire series. Looking from page to page the message seems clear: this isn’t your father’s Star Trek (comic).

From a production standpoint, Countdown features an impressive matte/glossy cover on sturdy stock, with heavy-weight interior pages. Each cover is reprinted within the book, with  the comic art cover on the ‘external’ page and ‘photo cover’ on the reverse. Also included in the comic is a thoughtful afterword from Orci and Kurtzman (which in and of itself is worth the price of admission!) as well as samples of concept art from Messina.

Messina’s art is very moody – and incorporates elements of the new movie

As noted in the afterword, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman became fans of Star Trek through the adventures of the Next Generation cast. Thus, it is fitting that even though this book is presented as a prequel to the Star Trek movie, the TNG cast are central to the unfolding of the story. While setting the stage for the new film is first and foremost on their minds, their outline, as given flesh by Mike Johnson and Tim Jones does an outstanding job of catching us up – perhaps for the last time – with the Next Generation crew before handing off (in the person of Spock) to a new plane of Trek-existence. Picard, Data, Worf and Geordi all play key roles in the story and are not just cameos.

The book leaves many stories waiting to be told are so many stories waiting to be told in the latter-half of the twenty-fourth century: What happened with Data? How did Worf become a general in the Klingon military? When did Jean-Luc become an ambassador? We may never get the answers to any of these questions, but the attention offered to the Next Generation crew was positive, and for this fan, the final pane of the story was the most fitting sendoff that the TNG crew could ever hope to receive. That being said, the book leaves the door open for more adventures for the TNG crew, so perhaps IDW will pick up on that storyline in a future series.

Even though the TNG sequel element is a major part of Countdown, the stated goal of the series is to tell the story of Nero, the villain played by Eric Bana in the new Star Trek movie. In Countdown we learn he is a mining captain who (at first) befriends Spock (still on Romulus decades after "Unification") when the elder Vulcan tries to warn of an impending danger to the Empire. Through the series we find out how that went wrong, why Nero is angry at Spock, how he tricked out his ship the Narada, and even why he has that crazy tattoo. But even with all that, Nero still comes off a bit like just another psychopathic, revenge motivated killer…one who will stop at nothing to pay back anyone and everyone who he believes stands in his way. His story sounds a lot like Khan’s in the wake of the death of Marla McGivers. Nothing wrong with TWOK, but hopefully Star Trek doesn’t turn in to another copy of Wrath of Khan.

‘Countdown’ dives into the back story for Nero

Of particular note is Spock and his arc throughout the story. Although some of the other dialog in the book is a bit awkward, with Spock, Johnson and Jones do an outstanding job of providing words that ripple with a Nimoy-esque undercurrent. In the latter portions of the book, Spock is very reminiscent of those audio-books that Leonard Nimoy read back in the early 1980’s. Messina also does well with Spock. His visage is done incredible justice, and everything about Countdown leads you to a deeper appreciation of the Spock character, and a more intense anticipation of seeing Nimoy in the new film. On element of note regarding Spock’s back story, the trade paperback corrects an error in the individual volumes concerning Spock – instead of a forty-year resident, he has now been a resident of Romulus for only twenty years.

In the end, Star Trek: Countdown is a must for any fan. There are not enough spoilers for the film to make much of a difference, and the background it provides more than makes up for any sense of loss that one might have of not learning some of these things in the theater. Also the trade paperback resolves the weakest link of the comic series, with each book feeling short. As a single volume, the story feels much more complete and those who waited, will be rewarded. Plus the TPB has those extra features (covers, concept art & Orci & Kurtzman afterward), enhancing the experience even more.

"Countdown (trade paperback)" is available at Amazon

Coming up next (in a week or so) we will be reviewing "Star Trek: Vanguard: Open Secrets", the upcoming TOS era book set on board Starbase 47 by Dayton Ward (based on a story by Ward and Kevin Dilmore). Following that, in early May, we be reviewing Alan Dean Foster’s adaptation of the new "Star Trek" movie. Keep an eye out for Anthony’s exclusive interview with Foster, which should be up within a week. 

Our next books to review: "Vanguard: Open Secrets" [late April] and "Star Trek (movie novelization)" [early May]

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This movie is going to rock a friend of mine in Austin was there last night (damm him) and saw the movie. He can’t wait to see it again.

I have it on order at Golden Age Collectables in my home town of Vancouver, BC.

Four weeks and change to go. But may wait a week to let the crowd thin — want to see in IMAX.

Hopefully I get to review it — have begged film editor of Georgia Straight.

i want to buy it in the store for some reason…

Go get it!

I got my copy of Countdown last week. I accidentally ordered two.


Although its a good story, I thought it was a bit of a stretch for Data to go from a dead lieutenant commander to a living Captain in only what…8 years? And Picard, an Ambassador? And Worf a General in the Klingon Defense Force? I have mixed feelings about those two new posts. I also have mixed feelings about the uniforms. I am still pretty attached to the First Contact uniforms. And if these STO uniforms are still in use in 2408…it just seems a bit soon to introduce them, since we have already seen late 24th century uniforms on screen in All Good Things and End Game. (To be fair, both of these episodes take place in alternate futures that unhappened.)

Anyway, I enjoyed it. It’s worth a read. My favourite part is near the end, just before the Narada and the Jellyfish become trapped by the singularity when Nero yells “You used me Spock!!!”

though i wasnt too worried about the “40 years on Romulus” stuff…its cool that they decided to fix the 40 into a 20.


I enjoyed the individual “Countdown” issues very much and I will grab the TPB as well.

I have read a few posts from various forums that indicate a bit of confusion regarding Nero’s drive for revenge after viewing the Austin premiere. I think a few fans failed to acquire “Countdown” and missed the back-story element.

The thing I found a “stretch” was related to the supernova. Supernova don’t explode faster than the speed of light – so there would have been years before a star that exploded outside the romulan system had any effect on Romulus. In the comic they have a star light years from Romulus explode and take out Romulus shortly after. Seriously. WTF?

They even had Spock looking through a telescope at the star from Romulus – as if the speed of light didn’t really matter. What Spock would have seen through the telescope was the star as it appeared years before.

Then there was a lot of stuff about how the exploding star was going to destroy the universe. No explanation. How does that work? It would have been decades before a supernova near Romulus would have been seen near Vulcan – yet in the comic it is a mad dash to get the maguffin into the supernova before it expands to consume what I guess is the entire alpha quadrant.


Within the realm of fiction sometimes plot overdrives logic.

@#5, everything data was before be died is now him again in the B4, so even though 8 years passed, data still had decades of experiences

The afterword by Kurtzman and Orci is priceless. That wonderful, pre-internet summer of 1990, spent watching “Best of Both Worlds Pt. 1” over and over and over again… maybe not the best episode ever, but it was a cliffhanger for the ages.

The only thing that bothers me in Countdown, is the supernova… and unless someone had a backup there… how in heaven’s name B4 rises in the ranks so fast??… I rest my case.

I’ve been critical of the characterization of Nero based on what I read here and other sites. I thought his motivations were thin to hang a movie on, but after having read the comic I think I got a better handle on him.

Apparently Spock’s scheme to neutralize the supernova is refused by the Romulan Senate and by the Vulcan government and the only help the Federation provides is in the form of Medical ships sent to evac Romulus. So of course, Nero blames all of these governments/planets for his world’s demise. And he blames Spock because he feels Spock only achieves the solution when Vulcan is threatened, rather than when Romulus was on the line. Good stuff. It’s certainly a bit more motivation than Khan had- he only lost his wife, here Orci et al seems to have said, ” I see your wife and I raise you your whole planet.”

Still, I don’t see Nero as the genius tactician that Khan was made out to be. I don’t see preKirk having any trouble outthinking Nero.

Off topic, but if it isn’t already posted here somewhere, here is a link to the first australian review:

(I didn’t pick up any spoilers in the review)

#6 “though i wasnt too worried about the “40 years on Romulus” stuff…its cool that they decided to fix the 40 into a 20.”

Fixing canon and continuity errors is a very nice touch. The actual writers care about Trek and fans.

9. Orin – April 7, 2009

Agreed, sadly I suspect the adherence to science and astrophysics, both theory and fact, is not seen as important in this new breed of Trek. A great pity. The Nasa advisor seems to have been brought on board to help render visual depictions of outer space more accurate only, unlike TMP where Jesco Von Puttkamer contributed ideas including postulating the theory of warp drive mechanics. I read everything possible back then that he had written for Trek’s science, absolutely fascinating. I always felt previous Trek’s exploration of possible future science a vital strong backbone supporting some great stories and should be kept intact. I can’t see how it could detract from the drama (for the mainstream audience) if used properly.


Possibly that is not refering to a simple Supernova but to an theoretical Hypernova, where the core of a star collapses instantly into a blackhole… and as far as I know it “could” lead to an devastating outburst of increasing matter and simply exotic matter and could lead to a shift of spacetime which could travel faster than light in relation to other regions of spacetime… so just add a bit more scientific technobabble and it works ;)

When Spock first raises the alarm about the supernova he is laughed at by the Romulan senate who rightly ask “how can a supernova threaten our entire empire”? To which Spock replies “this is unlike any previously known supernova”. I think that’s how they justify getting away from the hard science.

i got the individual issues- read 3 1/2 of them- will leave the cliffhanger for the night b4 when i re read countdown and read the end.
i liked the story- but i dont know why the writers made picard an ambasador- this destroys any future voyages of the Enterprise E with picard as the captain- and undoes the open ending of Nemisis.
everything else was good- the art was spectacular.
everyone must have a copy!

Countdown looks really good, but the story is nothing but technobabble and fanwank. It’s like one of Brannon Braga’s anomaly of the week episodes of Voyager on steroids. Not what I expected from a fresh new start for the franchise.

In the countdown comics, Romulus is destroyed by the Hobus star turning into a supernova. And that supernova for some reason threatens the entire galaxy. And Spock stops the supernova using “Red Matter”, created by Vulcan scientists on Vulcan. Something nobody else but the VULCANS could have done.

So now in the new movie, alternate timeline but still connected to the “canon” universe, Vulcan gets irreversibly destroyed by Nero. But that supernova will still threaten the entire galaxy, despite of all timeline violations Nero caused.

So that new fresh alternate reboot universe is doomed from the start.

Having said that, I’m wondering if there’s actually an adverb to “irreversible” or if I made that up.

“Red Matter” WTF? The story made no sense whatsoever. Just a lot of Trek references and Trek-like situations thrown together to hopefully make an entertaining backstory for Nero. They even pulled out “Borg technology” from their limited bag of tricks! Didn’t work for me, hopefully it won’t matter insofar as the movie is concerned. The Spock in this story was praticaly unrecognizable as Spock to me. The closest it came was when he makes an indavertant joke in to the Romulan senate. That reminded me of ST:V’s “marshmellons” joke. And that’s not a good thing… Probably the best thing about the story was how it pretty much ignored (or atleast side-stepped) what happened to Data in Nemesis, which is totally fine with me.

Certainly it was presented well, Nice illustrations and glossy coloring. But,a gain, the story just was poor and I expected more from such talented writers. There appeared to be no regard whatsoever for science or a sence of scientific reality. My guess is they figured if Trek fans could buy the “genesis-wave” technology, why not red-matter (a black hole in a bottle?) but that was a bridge too far for me…

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#7 Buy it So….LOL

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You forget something. The Hobus star could be destroyed by a red-matter-induced-singularity in the alternate 23rd century to preempt the supernova in the 24th century, no?

Hence, Romulus is never destroyed to begin with, so Nero never goes back in time, Spock never goes back in time, and never messes with the timeline to begin with. Reset. But the quantum mechanics allows the alternate movie-verse to continue to exist for sequels.

It’s too darn confusing.

The Hobus star is Romulus sun, as far as I know. So if you create a black hole in that star, Romulus is still destroyed.

this may be the first novelization I ever bought

#9, #18-

I also reckoned that it was not an ordinary, vanilla-flavored supernova. In one early episode of TNG, it was mentioned that the huge and technologically advanced Tkon Empire, with its trillions of citizens, was wiped out by a supernova. I would imagine that the supernova that destroyed the Tkon was something along the lines of a Hobus supernova event.

I got it in the mail a few days ago. I thought it was very good.


My copy is winging it’s way from the States as I write this.

I can’t wait.

It’s a grandfather paradox.

Seriously, #28, you’re over thinking it. When Nero goes back in time, he creates an alternate universe. Once it’s created, it doesn’t go away.

Yesterday’s Enterprise merely showed us how the universe changed because the Enterprise-C moved into the future, and when it went back, it went back to normal. But, the universe still exists. It never went away; it just exists elsewhere.




I have the same issues you do with speed of light and physics in the comic. The shows and movies – by and large – have done a pretty good job with that over time. The novels and comics – not so much. This continues that trend. However . . . if you assume that the Hobus nova propogated a subspace wave that both converts matter into its own energy and travels at superluminial velocities, the distance to Romulus takes on less of a science strain. (Subspace has been used and abused for years in that regard, but it works to shore up the fictional universe.) The telescope however? Simply stupid if it is a real telescope as it appears. As was pointed out, Spock would be looking at the star years in the past. You have to assume that it is a viewer, tied into a sensor unit that is communicating via subspace (much like ship sensors) for it to make sense. It could work, but you need to assume some pretty illogical designs that Spock would use to scan a star that he feels is imminently dangerous.

In short, with some creativity you can get around these obvious mistakes made by people who really don’t care about the actual universe and how it works. But why should we have to work so hard? The beauty of Trek has been its love of science, and how – in the context of a fictional universe – it respects it. This comic – not so much. So A for effort, C- for results as to science.

(And that’s without getting to the non-science point where Spock makes a joke on Romulus based on the audience’s familiarity with Shakespeare’s Julius Caeser! Talk about illogic and stupidity for a cheap gag!)

@31 Ah yeah… I remember… I thin it is obvious that this had been an Inspiration for the Hobus Hypernova

34# you forget that Sela is still in their timeline so therefore there wasn’t an alternate timeline.

#24 – If the writers of Star Trek adhered to known science every step of the way, there wouldn’t have *been* a Star Trek to write.

This is why it’s called “science-fiction.” There’s just enough science (or postulated science) to make it relatively believeable. If you don’t have that, it becomes fantasy.

@35 – Well, perhaps it’s called a “telescope” in the 25th century in much the same way a cellular communications device/internet appliance/messaging device is called a “phone” today. The basic function remains the same (looking at a star, voice-to-voice communication) but the method and technology are vastly different.

@37 – I think Sela was just a cheap trick to bring Denise Crosby back to the show. If the current theories of parallel/alternate universes holds, then when Enterprise-C went back 22 years to Narendra III to complete the battle with the Romulans, Tasha Yar might still have been captured, Sela might still have been born, but it would have been in someone else’s alternate universe. If sending the Enterprise-C back through the rift “corrected” the main timeline, Sela would be nowhere to be found, Yar would still have died on Armus’ planet, and (as shown in the episode) the Enterprise-D would simply have catalogued another momentary spatial anomaly and continued on her merry way.

Didn’t you pay attention to Doc Brown’s illustration in “Back To The Future II?” :-)

Hey I thought Romulans bleed green? Go back and see when Nero takes down the head of the Senate.

The supernova stuff is bad science, but Star Trek is littered with bad science, that’s what got Spock resurrected in the first place (Genesis Device, Protomatter) and killed Kirk in the second (Nexus), so I’m not expecting anything scientifically brilliant (or even accurate) out of this film.

40. falcon – April 8, 2009

Just means there hasn’t been a ‘main’ timeline for quite awhile. I guess everything we saw on Next Gen after that moment was a splintered off timeline, in order for Sela to appear.

I got it last week from Amazon. It rocked! Even my wife, who has spent the last two years being sick of me talking about the new movie, found it really good. Nero seems like a great villian. The art is great, they really capture the likenesses of the charicters. Geordi is particularly well done. Also, the relationship between Data and Geordi, which was missing from Nemesis, is done very well here!

A simple story in Countdown, but I loved it…right from the presentation of the 24th century (and the E-E’s holographic displays) to the finale that leads into the movie. Its all done on a dynamic and large scale, as the movie appears to be. It should be a seamless intro.

It is hard for me to believe that Starfleet would promote Data to Captain.

If they acknowledged him in his original incarnation as sentient and not merely a machine, then when he died, he died. Would they not regard, rightfully or not, the rebooted Data in another physical body as a Xerox?

Then again, if we’re playing that game, Kirk would have been court martialed about 90 times and removed from command for the s#@t he pulled in TOS, and Picard would never have been allowed to command a ship after being Locutus.

@46 The same is for Spock… he died and was resurrected… and he still hold his rank of Captain… so that is nothing to worry about Data being resurrected and later being Captain of the Enterprise…

Thats funny, I picked it up at Barnes & Noble on the 6th. Sounds like they sold it a day early.

The comics were great, probably going, no I am going to swing by the comics shop today to pick this up.

@7. jas_montreal. Indeed.

@14. Valar1, meh I liked Khan but he too was over hyped and was made out to be better then he seemed, I don’t think the character was all that great, superior intellect, and a tactician and he could not find the damn override! Khan was just way too dramatic for my taste, still a good movie, I still like Khan but he is NOT the apex of what a villain is.

@5. Newman. Yea I was going to say the (First Contact) uniforms with the new insignia with the two vertical bars, were never seen in the real time line only in alternate timelines, Voyager finally, Harry and Chakote go back to save Voyager. The First Contact uniforms were my favorite to but dark, I like the color they added to the top and the shapes of the shoulders, the Voyger/DS9 uniforms never did it for me until they were grey tops, but I like these. To be fare Data was lieutenant commander, Riker had his own ship, Picard became an ambassador, by the time Data was completely imprinted on B4 Picard could have requested Data be put in charge of the Enterprise.

@6. garen. Paulaner. What is wrong with 40 years on Romulus, that makes sense. We have no idea what Spock did after Undiscovered Country unless it is written that he taught at the academy or something, but go back 15 almost 20 years and the 1701 D is arriving at Farpoint, so to go back another 20 years from there does not seem unfathomable that Spock went to live on Romulus at that time. By the time Picard talked to Spock he was in the underground movement for a LONG time.

@17. Chris Pike. No doubt, being a Canadian I also LOVE how after TOS Star Treks used the PROPER system of measurement THE METRIC SYSTEM! Just like NASA!

@20. trekboi. Meh I am happy with Picard as an ambassador, Jainway became an admiral when she returned, and if you read the history captain Archer becomes ambassador to Andoria and also becomes one of the UFP presidents! So picard as an ambassador, I can live with that.

@24. Mr. Fanboy. I liked the comics but I will admit that I was missing a few things, ok many things that made it feel like Trek.

@28. AdamTrek. Yes but it was not the star Spock was trying to destroy it was the super nova. Which means if they had time Spock could have intercepted the nova way before it reached Romulus and had it sucked into the black hole nowhere near Romulus, which means Romulus would have been safe. Man all they had to do was time travel back one month and stopped all this lol. Where are the federation temporal agents, I thought they were watching lol.

@31. WhatInBlueBlazes?! That’s right, what was it, the age of Makto?

@34. hmich176. Yea no doubt, just the (evil) parallel universe, just because they are not in it does not mean it vanished into nothingness.

@ 42. CJS no doubt, its also littered with inconsistencies (Romulans have green blood not red) and too many canon breaches to name, which is why I am not making a big deal about what I might find wrong with this movie.

I am way too excited to nitpick this movie.