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.
REVIEW: STAR TREK: ROMULANS – PAWNS OF WAR REVIEW
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.
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"
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.
Star Trek: Romulans – Pawns of War is available in comic stores now. You can also pick it up at Amazon.