TrekInk: Review of Star Trek Motion Picture Trilogy and Trek Flick Comic Book Retrospective

trilogytnIDW 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.

trilogysmStar 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.

For a more in-depth look at Khan’s story, see last year’s TrekMovie reviews of the three-issue mini-series: Issue #1, Issue #2, Issue #3.

Star Trek III: The search for SpockStar 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 homeStar 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.

Cover for  "Star Trek Motion Picture Trilogy"

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
(Trade pbk)

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 pictureStar 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 frontierStar 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 countryStar 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: GenerationsStar 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 ContactStar 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
(Trade pbk)
Oct 2010


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.

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I have read all! great stuff!

An admirably exhaustive article. Nicely written and pleasant to read.

Some great stuff. I want treks 1 through 8 and trek 09. Would love to see some comic captions of the tos series. All 80 Eps.


Pretty good cover for GENERATIONS, however what was up with the hunchbacked Picard looking like he just lost a rope?

Great fun! I wish I could be 8 again…

…sssshhh. I never grew up.

I have a few of those collectible comics. They are very fun to look thorough.

Bob Larkin’s cover is undeniably beautiful, but I also like Chaykin’s TSFS piece. I love Jerome Moore’s draftsmanship (especially when he did DC’s monthly Trek covers), but the TUC example is pretty crowded- most likely too many cooks in the kitchen with that one.

The DC comics Trek IV cover: Kirk looks like muppet Angel from Smile Time!

I hope IDW ressurects the movie omnibus. I never got the chance to read those comic adaptations. But I suppose the reasons for not doing it is financial, i.e it would be too expensive for them to pay royalties to the original artists and writers. Oh well.

Peter David had to do the STV comic? Poor guy, talk about a thankless task…

#3 – i think the only TOS eps that have been *sort of* adapted into comic are The Cage (in Marvels Early Voyages – a different perspective on it from the yeoman) and Balence of Terror in the Romulan TPB…not sure if theres been any others?

some random points on the movie adaptations:

-TMP includes the memory wall sequence
-TSFS has some quite glaring errors – with chracters appearing in one uniform on panel and then in another the next
-TFF has the rock monster end
-GEN includes the sky dive opening

some times i wouldnt be able to resist flicking through the comic before i saw the film and remember totally spoiling the end of Generations for myself when i looked at the last few pages of the comic in a store and saw Kirk dying…also i bought TUC comic before i saw it and locked it away in a cupboard…but in the middle of the night i couldnt hold out any longer and got up and read it…

was suprised they didnt include some extra scenes in TWOK adaptation – e.g. Khan taking Reliant, torturing the Regular crew etc

awaiting to see if they include the Shat scene in the final ST09 one…

I had read the TMP comic before I first watched the film. This comic was the first expansion of Star Trek I had experienced beyond the TOS episodes. I could barely read at the time and afterwards I had to pester my parents for about a year until they finally rented the VHS tape so that I could watch the movie. Must have been 1981 or so. (Needless to mention that a 4:3 format, VHS quality viewing of TMP totally sucks as compared to a movie theater screening.)
My original copy being lost in time, I got the TMP comic from eBay last year. Of course it can’t compete with the marvelous work IDW has done by now, but it’s still a fond childhood memory and it holds up as a well done comic. In particular, I love the alternate scenes from earlier screenplay versions which show up in the comic.

I have a copy of one of the original TMP comics signed by Cockrum and Wolfman! I feel sooo happy :)

who remembers getting the Starlog Movie magazines? in addition to the comic adaptation and movie tie in novel they were an essential buy for any self respecting Trek fan throughout the 80s and 90s

maybe someone at could do a piece of the starlog magazines in a similar fashion, i believe Titan took over FC onwards

Have always held a special place in my heart for Trek comics… this article does a great job of going through the many years of the movie comic adaptations. Thanks for bringing back some fond memories!

…WHAT is Picard doing on the cover for Generations?! He’s like… reaching or something?! Love that Crusher made the cover.

instead of doing the comic adapations for Treks IX and X – which would be kinda boring (lets face it even the best Trek film getting a belated adaptation sounded much more awesome than it eventually was) maybe they could do alternate TNG movies IX and X – different stories but done like a feature film adaptation…

e.g. ‘Insurrection’ could be a mirror universe adventure set in the MU after Geordies temporal wormhole at the end of FC landed them there and ‘Nemesis’ a TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY/ENT crossover epic (like Bring Back and to a lesser extent The Last Generation)…

they could even go further and do an alternate version of Generations – Yesterdays Enterprise style with the 2 crews and 2 enterprises (like everyone was expecting it to be), adapt Bennetts Starfleet Academy Trek VI (although DC annual #2 sort of covers that), maybe Planet of the Titans as an alternate TMP, Bermans proposed Star Trek The Beginning trilogy..and maybe a movie style adaptation of the Prime timeline origin (i know theres been various comics that contain elements of the various prime backstories and origins but never everything encompassed in one big graphic novel – as if it were adapting a movie.incl Kodus, the Farragut, cloud killer, Finnegan, Gary Mitchell, Carol Marcus, KM test, Finney etc – Pike cameo when he meets Kirk at the end to hand over the Enterprise)

i know thats what comics are for anyway – to tell other stories in an almost cinematic way but they could do these ‘alternate’ movie versions sold to fans like if they were adapating a proper alternate movie..

I came to know STAR TREK through the MAD magazine movie parodies, which are surprisingly and amazingly respectful to the movies.

I got the “Mad Spectacular Star Trek” which collected all their Trek movie parodies, and they are knowledgeable and really funny.

It surely deserves to be rediscovered.

Wow… um, I suppose I’m in the minority here, but I really think most of those covers were rather badly drawn (at least from an accuracy point of view). A couple of them have a ship that I guess they think the Enterprise should look like, but they come off as rather badly done. One has the saucer too far back on the interconnecting dorsal, and the other has some weird looking pylons. Yeah, yeah, I know they’re just comic books, but c’mon…

@ #18… I had that same issue! Totally awesome!

artistic license, 19


Best Star Trek comics artist in any century: Mad Magazine’s Mort Drucker

Shortly after the release of ST-TMP, there was a daily comic strip syndicated in many newspapers. The strip was quite good and continued the adventures of the crew after the events of the feature film. I clipped them out and saved them in an envelope somewhere which I haven’t had time to track down.

Does anyone else recall this strip? It would be nice if IDW could get the rights and consolidate the strip into a comic book.

I researched my own question and found a good link at:

Check out the artwork..

I hadn’t realized the strip ran for over three years, overlapping the release of STII. Lots of material for several comic books (hint, hint!)

this ones sounds like a good one

also deals with parallel universes like the new movie

Its true their pretty darn awsome! Even if some of it is badly drawn….oh wtf, its Star Trek, its cool. For me at least.

At least two attempts have been made to reprint the LA Times Star Trek comic strip, one by Pocket Books about 10 years ago and another by GIT (publisher of Star Trek Complete Comic Book Collection on DVD). Both attempts ended in failure because Paramount’s original contracts are long gone and publication rights are too complicated to sort out, without knowing the contents of the contracts. Kind of leaves the whole thing in unsatisfactory limbo.

I agree with most of this article–loved Davis and Purcell’s work the most, and I thought Chee and Fry were a bit weak in the art department. It’d be great to get the final 2 Next Gen films in print, especially if David and Purcell could work on them.
Any idea why the full collection was postponed?

That cover for TSFS brings back SO many memories for me- That hot summer, the movie, its soundtrack and the Taco Bell glasses! :D

TSFS was the spark that Trekified me. I loved that comic when it came out. I haven’t looked at it in 20 years probably, but it sure is a pleasure to see!

I was just checking out the TSFS comic and found one thing I wasn’t expecting–establishing shots! We get to see the outside of the bar McCoy visits, and the old city transporter station’s exteriors. I thought that was a really neat idea.