IDW Publishing's new "Star Trek Motion Picture Trilogy" collection combines their recent Star Trek II: The wrath of Khan adaptation with the 1980's DC Comics adaptations of the third and fourth Star Trek films into a single trade paperback collection. We review that collection, plus take a retrospective look at all the other Star Trek comic book adaptations. It’s time to go to the TrekMovies.
REVIEW: Star Trek Motion Picture Trilogy Comic Adaptation Collection
IDW Publishing, May 2010
Edited by Justin Eisinger, designed by Neil Uyetake, cover by Chee Yang Ong, cover colors by Moose Baumann assisted by Jennifer Baumann, re-mastered and re-colored by Digikore Studios Limited, based on Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry.
IDW Publishing has released the trade paperback edition of Star Trek II: The wrath of Khan, reprinting the three issue mini-series by Andy Schmidt and Chee Yang Ong. The comic book adaptation of the second Star Trek film is packaged with reprints of the third and fourth films, Star Trek III: The search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The voyage home, originally published by DC Comics in 1984 and 1987. IDW outsourced re-mastering and re-coloring of both reprints to Digikore Studios in Mumbai, India. The shiny new coat of paint gives both older comics a fresh, clean look. Howard Chaykin’s original cover paintings for both DC adaptations look strikingly different in this edition. I wonder if the original covers would have looked like this if they had been printed using the same materials and processes that IDW uses today? Let’s look at the three movie adaptations in the collection.
Star Trek II: The wrath of Khan
IDW Publishing, Jun/Jul 2009
Written by Andy Schmidt, art by Chee Yang Ong, cover art by Chee Yang Ong, Bob Peak and David Dietrick, colors by Moose Baumann, lettering by Neil Uyetake and Robbie Robbins, edited by Chris Ryall and Scott Dunbier. Based on a story by Harve Bennett and Jack B. Sowards and the screenplay by Jack B. Sowards.
Andy Schmidt’s script offers a faithful adaptation of the film and doesn’t explore any new or deleted scenes. Artist Chee Yang Ong came to Star Trek from a background in horror comics. His painted artwork is dark and brooding, which I believe suits Khan’s tale of revenge, but is quite a departure from other Star Trek comics. Ultimately, I found their work satisfying, but many readers were less pleased with the results. Most of the many variant covers are included in the collection, between chapters and as endpages. Curiously, David Dietrick’s cover painting of Khan waving a fist at the universe is omitted from the trade (or maybe I’m just going blind reading too many comics), but his paintings of Kirk and Spock both made the cut.
Star Trek III: The search for Spock
DC Comics, Jun 1984
Written by Mike W. Barr, pencils by Tom Sutton and Ric Estrada, inked by Ricardo Villagran, letters by John Costanza, colors by Michele Wolfman, edited by Marv Wolfman, and cover art by Howard Chaykin. Based on a story by Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett, and the screenplay by Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Harve Bennett, and Nicholas Meyer.
Writer Mike Barr, penciler Tom Sutton and inker Ricardo Villagran, ushered in the first golden age of Star Trek comics in 1984, including this adaptation. Their work is easy to recognize and a pleasure to read. Sutton’s character likenesses may not be as good as other artists, but his attention to detail makes for a fine presentation. The script follows the film pretty closely, but some of the amusing scenes and dialogue in TSFS are missing. Howard Chaykin’s cover is striking, but would look better as a large poster. Still, this is a decent comic, and if you need a starship sketch or a portrait of Saavik, Tom Sutton is the man.
Star Trek IV: The voyage home
DC Comics, 1987
Written by Mike W. Barr, pencils by Tom Sutton, inked by Ricardo Villagran, letters by Augustin Mas, colors by Michele Wolfman, edited by Robert Greenberger, and cover art by Howard Chaykin. Based on a story by Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett, and the screenplay by Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Harve Bennett, and Nicholas Meyer.
Barr, Sutton and Villagran were battle-hardened Star Trek veterans when this adaptation was commissioned. As they did with TSFS, they followed the script of TVH pretty closely, capturing the flow of the film, but once again, bits and pieces are missing, in particular, the easy banter of the crew. Howard Chaykin’s cover features the ST IV font instead of his artwork and is the most disappointing movie adaptation cover. Sutton clearly enjoyed drawing Saavik. Of the two adaptations produced by DC’s first Star Trek team, I think they did a better job with TSFS. Maybe they were tired when it was time for TVH.
If you didn’t pick up the Khan mini-series last year, or if you want print editions of the older adaptations, Star Trek Motion Picture Trilogy, the trade paperback, is available now. You can order a copy at your local comic shop or online.
Star Trek Motion Picture Trilogy
RETROSPECTIVE: And what about the rest of the movie comics?
IDW solicited and then postponed an omnibus collection of all the Star Trek movie adaptations. I don’t know if they plan to resurrect that project, but don’t let that stop you from revisiting the movie comics. Let’s take a brief look at the remaining comic book adaptations of past Star Trek films.
Star Trek: The motion picture
Marvel Comics Super Special #15, Dec 1979
Written and edited by Marv Wolfman, pencils by Dave Cockrum, inked by Klaus Janson, letters by John Costanza, colors by Marie Severin, and cover art by Bob Larkin. Based on a story by Alan Dean Foster and Gene Roddenberry, and the screenplay by Harold Livingston.
The screening of the first Star Trek feature film was a watershed moment for most Trekkies. I was pleased to see the crew of the Enterprise again, but the movie didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I didn’t read the comic book adaptation until many years later. When I did, Dave Cockrum’s art put some wonder back into the story for me. Combined with the Marie Severin’s psychedelic colors, I really enjoyed the print version of ST:TMP. Marv Wolfman’s script contains dialogue and scenes that don’t appear in the film, but capably presents the story. Bob Larkin’s sensational painted cover pays homage to artist James Bama’s original NBC publicity artwork.
This magazine format comic also contains articles, a glossary, and photos. The movie adaptation was reformatted and reprinted in a Mar 1980 Pocket Books paperback, and as the first three issues of the first Marvel Comics monthly series, beginning Apr 1980. See also TrekMovie’s 30th anniversary look at the comic adaptation of TMP.
Star Trek V: The final frontier
DC Comics, 1989
Written by Peter David, pencils by James W. Fry, inked by Arne Starr, letters by Bob Pinaha, colors by Tom McGraw, edited by Robert Greenberger, and cover art by Roger Stine. Based on a story by William Shatner, Harve Bennett, and David Loughery, and the screenplay by David Loughery.
If I were to rank the Star Trek films from best to worst, TFF would be at the bottom of the list. That said, I think the story makes for a better comic, thanks to Peter David’s script. On the printed page, Sybok’s prescription for pain and his quest for Sha Ka Ree don’t seem so silly. In addition, David preserves the camaraderie and humor of the main characters. Artists James Fry and Arne Starr do a fine job of bringing the story to life. Their rendering of Klingon Captain Klaa and crew is particularly good. Roger Stines’s cover of the big three is nicely done as well. If only there were more panels of Uhura dancing in the moonlight.
Star Trek VI: The undiscovered country
DC Comics, 1992
Written by Peter David, pencils by Gordon Purcell, inked by Arne Starr, colors by Tom McGraw, letters by Bob Pinaha, edited by Bob Greenberger, and cover art by Jerome Moore (regular edition) and Jason Palmer (deluxe edition). Based on a story by Nicholas Meyer and Leonard Nimoy, and the screenplay by Nicholas Meyer and Denny Martin Flinn.
Gordon Purcell is one of the superstars of Star Trek comic art. Together with writer Peter David and veteran inker Arne Starr, he contributes to a terrific movie adaptation. All of the memorable moments of the movie are preserved in David’s script. Tom McGraw’s colors add life to the story as well. Purcell is one of the few artists who cares enough to draw Scotty well and the rest of the crew fares nicely too. This adaptation is a must read.
Published in regular and deluxe editions. The prestige format deluxe edition includes photos.
Star Trek: Generations
DC Comics, 1994
Written by Michael Jan Friedman, pencils by Gordon Purcell, inked by Jerome Moore and Terry Pallot, letters by Willie Schubert, colors by Rick Taylor, edited by Margaret Clark, and cover art by Sonia Hillios. Based on a story by Rick Berman, Ronald D. Moore, and Brannon Braga, and the screenplay by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga.
Generations offered Star Trek film fans an extraordinarily complex story featuring the original crew, Captain Harriman’s crew, and the next generation crew, not to mention Worf’s promotion on the high seas, Kirk’s and Picard’s dream lives in the Nexus, Picard struggling with family loss, and Data confused by his emotion chip. Writer Michael Jan Friedman manages to squeeze every bit of the story into his script for the comic book adaptation. Purcell and inkers Jerome Moore and Terry Pallot do a fine job with all of the characters. The cover painting by Sonia Hillios is memorable and very next generation. But overall, it’s dizzying – more difficult to consume on the printed page than on screen.
Published in regular and deluxe editions. The prestige format deluxe edition includes a cast list and Behind the scenes of a comics adaptation, with text, photos, and sketches. The painted cover is also the center panel of a mural whose side panels are the covers of Shadowheart #1 and DS9/TNG crossover #1. The covers were all painted by Sonia Hillios. A promotional poster of the three covers, titled The Voyage Continues, was also produced in 1994.
Star Trek: First Contact
Marvel Comics, Nov 1996
Written by John Vornholt, pencils by Terry Pallot, inked by Rod Whigham and Philip Moy, letters by Edd Fear, color design by Shannon Blanchard, colors by Malibu, edited by Phil Crain, and cover art by Jeff Pittarelli. Based on a story by Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, and Ronald D. Moore, and the screenplay by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore.
First Contact features the next generation cast and gives a face to the enemy by introducing a shapely and seductive cybernetic Borg Queen. Writer John Vornholt capably transforms the film script for the printed page. Terry Pallot, a veteran next generation artist, and inkers Whigham and Moy, do a good job presenting Picard and his crew. Jeff Pittarelli’s cover is a little unbalanced, but suitably creepy for a Borg story. This comic is also a showcase for computer coloring by Malibu Comics’ coloring studio. They are the reason that Marvel Comics purchased Malibu.
Star Trek: First Contact was published in prestige format and was the last comic book adaptation of a Star Trek film until the 21st century.
Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis were never adapted for comics. I would have liked to read an adaptation of Nemesis. Romulans and Remans and Datas! Oh, my!
We’re just past midway in the six-issue comic book adaptation of Star Trek (2009). TrekMovie’s Alex Fletcher is keeping tabs on the JJverse comics: Issue #1, Issue #2, Issue #3, Issue #4. Issue #5 will be out soon.
Best adaptation so far? For the combination of script and art, my selection is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I’ve also broken down my Best selections into several categories:
Best Script: Peter David, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Best Art: Gordon Purcell and Arne Starr, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Gordon Purcell, Jerome Moore and Terry Pallot, Star Trek: Generations
Best Cover: Bob Larkin, Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Best Color: Marie Severin, Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Shannon Blanchard and Malibu, Star Trek: First Contact
Best Editor: Bob Greenberger, IV, V and VI
Best Enterprise: Tom Sutton, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Best Liplock: Data and the Borg Queen, Star Trek: First Contact
Best Gams: Uhura fan-dancing in the moonlight, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Best Kleavage With a Bad Attitude: Lursa and B’Etor, Star Trek: Generations
What are your Best categories and selections?
All of the Marvel and DC Comics movie adaptations are available in digital format in the "Star trek: Movie Comic Book Collection" CD-ROM. The trade paperback collection of Star Trek: Movie Adaptation is scheduled for publication October 2010 and available for pre-order.
Star Trek: Movie Comic Book Collection
Star Trek: Movie Adaptation
Mark Martinez is an obsessive-compulsive Star Trek comics reader and collector. You can visit his website, the Star Trek Comics Checklist for more than you ever needed to know about Star Trek comics.