TrekInk: Review of John Byrne’s ‘Romulans: Pawns of War’

This past week, IDW released their first multi-series Star Trek trade paperback collection. Of course, it helps when all of the series are nicely related–and it’s John Byrne too. Read on for the review of "Romulans: Pawns of War", which also includes a brand new bonus story just in the trade paperback.




Star Trek Romulans: Pawns of War
written by John Byrne, art by John Byrne
Trade Paperback comprising John Byrne Romulan comics
List price: $19.99

John Byrne’s "Romulans: Pawns of War" is a collection of John Byrne’s six Romulan-themed comics from three different series released in 2008 and 2009. It also includes a brand new story just for the trade paperback.

The first issue in the "Romulans: Pawns of War" collection was originally part of the first Alien Spotlight series back in February of 2008. It told the story of the events leading up to the first encounter with the Romulans  in the classic Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror", but from the Romulan point of view. Byrne took the characters from the Romulan ship and gave them stories and a reason to understand who they were.

That issue was followed in September of the same year with the two-issue story "Romulans: The Hollow Crown" that picked up shortly after the events of "Balance of Terror" and spanned over the course of most of a year, including the events of "The Deadly Years", as one of the Romulan ships that surrounds the Enterprise has Gaius, the Romulan Commander’s son on board. These two issues allowed Byrne to present even more of the capital city of Romulus than he was able to in the first story, showing us skylines, buildings, and even the harshness of some of the weather, giving us a very rounded view of the Romulans and their homes.

As long as you know someone, you’ll just never understand them… (click to enlarge)

Almost a year later, the last part of the trilogy "Romulans: Schism" was released starting in September 2009. Gaius has taken over as Praetor to the Romulan Empire, has married, and the Romulan/Earth cold war has dragged on. Oh, and the Federation has somehow managed to get their hands on a cloaking device. The third series deals with the three parties involved in the cold war, the Humans, Romulans, and Klingons, with one issue telling the story of each. With these issues, the timelines jump about, but the story carries out quite logically.

Throughout the series, the characterizations throughout the six issues are strong, and Byrne could have been a writer on the original series, he understands the characters that well. The best part of this story is the way the climax comes together with the most logical conclusion, one that harkens back to an offhand comment made in the first issue of "The Hollow Crown"

Always use promotion to try to get into a girl’s bed just don’t get caught! (click to enlarge)

The real bonus on this trade paperback is the addition of Byrne’s "Balance of Terror" adaptation. Byrne’s tale tells the story from the Romulan point of view and bridges the gap between the first two chapters of the overall tale. It may only be fourteen pages long, but the entire forty minute episode is covered, and the story does not feel like it has been shoehorned into the book. In short, if you’re a Byrne fan or a Romulan fan, this book cannot be missed.

Note: There was a coloring error made in the original comic issue release that appears to have been fixed in this trade paperback. It was on page 8 of the original comic (Hollow Crown #2) and is on page 66 in the trade paperback release.


Cover for "Star Trek: Romulans – Pawns of War"

Star Trek: Romulans – Pawns of War is available in comic stores now. You can also pick it up at Amazon. 



Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

First! Wicked cool – I love Byrne stories
and art!

Can’t wait to read this.

Byrne is the best thing to happen to Star Trek comics.

‘Nuff said.

Loved “Crew”, will look forward to picking this up too.

I’m sure one of our resident nitpickers found the coloring error and quickly began harassing IDW until they agreed to correct their mistake in the trade paperback edition. :)

Did anyone see the Shat tonight at the Olympics??

A once in a lifetime experience!

#5 He was at the gold medal hockey game between the U.S and Canada.
Then he was at the closing ceremonies giving a “speech” during the “I Am Canadian” segment of the show. Classic Shat. :-)

Byrne’s simplistic artwork and amateurish writing hasn’t improved one iota in 30 years.

Probably Byrne hasn´t improved in 3 decades, but that doesn´t matter.
He´s s still a cultural patrimony of mankind and he´s doing us all a favor by still crafting cool comics set in the real TOS timeline.

I loved this book. A big fan of Brynes work, espec ially on Star Trek. Waiting for Leonard McCoy: Frontier Doctor eagerly!

@4: Actually, Byrne mentioned it before the original issue even came out.

I’d totally forgotten about it until I skimmed my prior reviews of the series and came across it. I compared the TPB with the issue, and the colors did change.

Three Byrne series coming this year from what I’m told: McCoy, Assignment Earth 2, and another “TOS series”

Please, Alex… Proofread, proofread, proofread…

That first paragraph gave me a headache as I was trying to figure out what you were trying to say. SpellChecker can fix misspelled words, but not correctly spelled words used in the wrong places…

I definitely want to squirrel away some cash to pick this trade book up. Looks great!

With ‘Crew’ and this one, Byrne is hereby promoted to my favorite Trek comic author.

ST09 being a geenormous disappointment to me, it’s Phase II and these superb IDW comicbooks which keep Trek alive for me. I’m glad IDW is publishing such great quality on a regular basis.

I hope they do another Mirror Universe series. Perhaps one telling a story of the last days of the Terran Empire.

I’ve always said that I’m more of a Trek fan than a comics fan, but IDW has really done well these last few years. So far, my least favorite has been the Mission’s End series. There was just something off about the feeling in that one.

But their other TOS stories have been wonderful. The TOS Mirror Universe book and Klingons:Blood Will Tell were both excellent. I’ve just read this Romulan trade from Byrne and I really enjoyed it. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Romulans and I think he did a great job. I think that Byrne has a wonderful feeling for the era and those characters. I always enjoy good ST stories that exist outside of the Enterprise, letting us see the rest of the ST universe from different perspectives. And I think Majel would have been thrilled with Number One’s performance (and rank)! Thumbs up! Even though Byrne’s dialogue can get a bit theatrical and his ending was a bit of a deus ex machina, the rest of the book certainly made up for it. Great job!

I didn’t buy the seperate issues & waited for a trade- finally got it & read it today.

Loved it- loved the old school art & storytelling-loved being back in the TOS timeline.

getting Crew & cant wait for the other TOS era JB stories!