TrekInk: Review of Countdown to Darkness #3 + 7-page Preview

shkow shkow The countdown actually gets dark in the penultimate issue of IDW Publishing’s prequel to Star Trek Into Darkness. Countdown to Darkness #3 will be released this week and April won’t leave anything to chance or Kirk. Spoilers ahead.



Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3 (of 4)
Story by Roberto Orci and Mike Johnson, script by Mike Johnson, art by David Messina, ink assist by Marina Castelvetro, coloring by Claudia Scarletgothica, letters by Chris Mowry, creative consultant Anthony Pascale, edited by Scott Dunbier


Held captive, Sulu and Hendorff do their best to escape, while Kirk argues with April about joining Spock’s rescue attempt. They are interrupted by the arrival of Uhura and Mudd in a shuttle. Kirk ignores April’s advice. Spock finds Sulu and Hendorff but they get pinned down by enemy fire. Kirk and Uhura arrive in the shuttle just in time. Reconvening aboard the Enterprise with April and Mudd in tow, Kirk tries to make sense of the situation. Spock determines that the Klingons have been supplying April’s opposition and Kirk is appalled to learn that April might ignite an interstellar war. April is unrepentant. Using one of his old security codes, he takes command of the Enterprise, with Mudd hoping for an even bigger payday.


Never gonna fall in love?


Storytellers Orci and Johnson have done something really interesting in the third issue of Countdown to Darkness. A set of action sequences frames an introspective examination of duty and grief. After rescuing members of his crew, Kirk still has to deal with April’s request to intervene in spite of the Prime Directive. Learning that the Klingons are already involved further complicates the situation. Kirk also confronts Spock, at Uhura’s urging, about his recklessness. To Kirk’s surprise, Spock admits that he has put the needs of the few before the needs of the many. In some respects, this seems to be an education for Kirk as much as it is a revelation for Spock. I like the interplay between all the characters in this issue, made so much more relevant when April turns the tables on the entire crew of the Enterprise, taking control of the ship. I’m not quite sure what role Mudd is intended to play. Identified as her disreputable father’s daughter, she seems to be comic relief in this issue. If that’s all she is to this story, I’ll be disappointed. At any rate, we have a nice setup for the final issue of the mini-series.

Like the previous issues, the art by David Messina, Marina Castelvetro, and Claudia Scarletgothica is outstanding. The scenes on the planet’s surface and on the Enterprise complement the compelling story. Spock is the featured character blending into a starscape on David Messina’s cover for issue #3. Don’t cut yourself on his razor-sharp ear. The B cover is a photograph of Spock and Kirk with lots of lens flare. The retailer incentive cover is a CGC-graded and slabbed variant of Messina’s art cover. Only 100 copies are available. I still haven’t seen any of the previous CGC variants out in the wild. I wonder if the 250-copy purchase required to snag one of these variants is too steep for most comic book retailers, let alone mere mortal comic book fans? It doesn’t really matter, because IDW’s creative team is doing a terrific job with this prequel. And what does it tell us about the forthcoming film? Well, I leave that for you to argue in the comments. I’m simply enjoying this tale on its own merits.

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3 A, cover art by David Messina Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3 B, photo cover

Cover A: Art by David Messina and colors by Claudia Scarletgothica, Cover B: Photo cover

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3 RI CGC, cover art by David Messina

Cover RI CGC: Art by David Messina and colors by Claudia Scarletgothica

Countdown to Darkness #3 will beam down to your local comic shop this Wednesday, March 20. Digital format is available the same day as print at, iTunes, IDW’s Star Trek app for iOS, and for Android in the comiXology app at Amazon or the comiXology app at Google Play. The trade paperback collection of Countdown to Darkness is scheduled for publication in late April, just before the new Star Trek film is released.

Preview of Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3 Page 1 Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3 Page 2 Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3 Page 3 Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3 Page 4 Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3 Page 5 Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3 Page 6 Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #3 Page 7

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.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

What, people are expected to read the comics in order to get what happens in the movie?


Still no idea who or what the main bad guy is.

I’m nitpicking I know – but Sulu and Hendorff seem to have commander’s braid on their sleeves (especially page 6)…

Taking command of the Enterprise using one of his old security codes!?

It MUST be Khan!

Hmm. Who is that up in the pic next to the article title?

@5. Brian Johnson

I’m pretty sure that it’s April.

@4. Curious Cadet

Wouldn’t that be Kirk?

Does an old security code still work on the new E? Maybe I’m just confused here or something, lack of sleep will do that…

@7. Mawazitus
Yep, in TWOK, Kirk used the Reliant’s prefix code to remotely lower her shields.

Memory Alpha states: “The prefix code is a numbered code individually assigned to each Federation starship. It is a defensive measure designed to help Starfleet personnel combat enemies who have seized control of a ship of their fleet, and to prevent enemy ships from attempting to seize control of a Starfleet vessel. ”

It is entirely possible that the code was reused for the new Enterprise once the old one was decomissioned. It is possible that it was considered easier to keep the same code for each vessel (unless it was known to be compromised) than to have to constantly update the codes and run the risk of Starfleet personnel trying to use an outdated one in an emergency situation.


Spock had to look up Reliants prefix code. This suggests that the Captain must have access to a Starfleet database to get the prefix in a time of emergency.

9 ObsessiveStarTrekFan

Thanks for the reply! I was wondering out loud about that in part from my time in the Air Force. There were codes for things that changed daily, if I recall correctly. Seems like they should rotate them for something as big and powerful as starships :)

Sulu’s socks have starfleet emblem on them. That beats old security code thing every time!

I really love the idea of the comics providing background in the lead up to the movie.

I don’t like that Spocks line about the needs of the many seems to get continually pimped out. I think it takes away from it’s power in TWOK.

# 13

Exactly. It makes the universe seem small. I understand homages here and there, but I’d rather have something new and intelligent.

It reminds me a little of Worf always talking about honor whereas a culture like his would have many ways of saying that.

14. Well said.

Does Uhura have just the one set of earrings? Just wondering.

Umm. Wouldn’t it be more, ahem, *logical* to leave the conn to Chekov or Scotty, instead of the ship’s doctor? I’m so confused about the chain of command in Trek sometimes… But then again, it would seem that so are Kirk and co. :P

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” – this is also quoted by T’Pol in the Enterprise episode The Council (season 3) as a Vulcan Axiom. There may be other canon references to it, but I didn’t want to take too much time trawling through everything.

This bit probably isn’t considered canon, but this quote is generally attributed to Surak. In that case, I would expect every single (non V’tosh ka’tur) Vulcan to be trying to live by it, and prone to quoting it whenever they though it approriate…

#17: I’ve been wondering about that myself! Though TOS Uhura seemed to have the same “problem” throughout the first two seasons… :) Maybe she just really likes the design? After all, she did wear two different sets in the movie, but they differed only in color.


Well, Spock being fictional, the proper attribution goes to the scriptwriters who actually strung those words together but even at that, those authors more than overtly and subtly credit the concept in their TWOK to Charles Dickens who explored it in many of his writings including A TALE OF TWO CITIES which was featured on screen, and his more well-known A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

#18. Starfleet Sideburns – March 19, 2013

I recall in the supposedly far more advanced Federation of TNG tv series and movies the Doctor and Counselor were left the conn on separate occasions. So, you tell me what makes more sense given that?

whoa I like the conversation between Uhura and Kirk about Spock that’s hitting the nail on the head.

I think that the clues are just thematic . to name few:
– The fact that Spock is still grieving about vulcan but he won’t admit it and Uhura knows that and, finally, Kirk knows too.
Her explanation had been my opinion as well in these comics and I think it will play out in the movie. It’s interesting because on one hand it seems that he’s embracing his vulcan side but at the same time he’s making emotional, irrational, illogical, decisions.
– the fact that Kirk and Spock aren’t a good team and co-workers atm. The part in the previous comic where April talked about his first officer it seemed to me to point up how different K/S are, the fact that Spock would have reported Kirk instead of helping him like April’s first officer did. Then right after that you have Spock taking action to save Sulu and Cupcake without even telling his captain first.
Being a team means, or at least it should, that you think as a group and not just as a single person and that’s something that Spock isn’t doing right now. He doesn’t even seem to consider Kirk the captain even if he keeps calling him “captain”. That bit between Uhura and Kirk is more an example of “team” than K/S ever had in these comics.

#1: What’s with the melodramatizing? Relax, dude. You’ll burst a vein.

1–I think the comics just provide background for the hardcore fan who’s interested. I don’t think it’s by any means necessary to read them to get into the movie.

I don’t think you’ll be slighted if you don’t read the comics.

Anyone else think that this “Mudd” chracter bears a rather striking resemblance to one Alice Eve?

@26 Harry Mudd

yeah…….. She does look like alice eve except the hair. Maybe she is carol in disguise. Remember the trailer?

Carol smiled at Kirk and the he smiles back. it’s like they have met somewhere before.

This was actually released last week in the iBook Store, was kinda surprised when I got the email my preorder was ready for download. Not sure if its still available, was a fluke, or what. It’s a good issue I’d check and see if its still available.

Things are really heating up. And Spock’s actions in the comic series lead up to his desire to sacrifice himself in that volcano in the movie preview. It will be interesting to see how Cumberbatch’s character takes advantage of both Spock’s relaitonship with Uhura as well as with Kirk.

I was very gratified to learn that the comic series will continue after the movie. And if they’re serious about having a 50th anniversary movie in ’16, that means a shorter wait, as well.

@21 Thanks for the heads up that Spock is a fictional character.

Who knew.

1. Harry Ballz –
“What, people are expected to read the comics in order to get what happens in the movie?”

Bad Robot have stated repeatedly to movie needs to stand no it’s own Harry. They want people to be able to enjoy the film even if they’ve had no other previous Trek exposure. That would include movies, series, novels and comics. Countdown should help to enhance the movie experience but should not necessary to understand it. The film must be ‘all of a piece’ to be a successful work. It’s only logical.

#17, Jack, The pair of earrings Uhura’s wearing THIS time has stud fasteners. The other pair, which she wears almost all the time, is a French-hook-style …

I know, they sure look like the same stones. Maybe she has another pair with a great big loop hook : )

Oh, #29, Sunfell, I do hope they get a good movie done by 2016, wouldn’t that be glorious!

Does this Mudd have a name? How about Mudd Nerys. ;)

@21 Dr. Benjamin Spock is appalled at you calling him fictional! The needs of the baby outweigh the needs of the parent, doncha know.

@26/27 I don’t see Alice Eve in this drawing. She’s rounder, bluer eyes. This character reminds me of Allison Scagliotti’s Claudia of W13 as a blonde. Admiral Marcus was April’s First Officer, right, since George Kirk couldn’t be in this universe? Robert would recognize Carol, I would think. There’s no way she could masquerade and him not figure it out. I still like the idea that Harcourt Fenton Mudd was simply “the dread pirate Roberts” equivalent in the ST universe. After all, TOS Mudd could have really been Leo Walsh, too.

Since Bad Robot likes the quote “Needs of the many…”

Give us our nuTrek 3 by the 50th anniversary! New direction would be fine with the right person (JJ Producing). It might be a breath of fresh air for this cast that is closely connected.

I still find it somewhat strange, that a weird, mustache wearing, overweight male human is now a hot, sassy, female Bajoran in the new universe.

Not complaining though…..

….Well, in a few hours now, I will know whether or not the fellow poster claiming to have already read the issue was serious…

According to him/her, and amongst other “spoilers”, “Mudd” IS Harcourt Fenton Mudd’s daughter.

(A while back, there was another poster who talked about seeing the Star Trek Into Darkness trailer with The Enterprise underwater, a few days before the trailer where we, indeed, saw a starship underwater was released.

Therefore, anything is possible, in my opinion ; the person I referred to earlier might, in effect, have already read the story…or not…we’ll see…)

Please don’t tell me, then, that Cumberbatch is Harry Mudd.

Please. Don’t.

Nice writing, Mark.

32. Thanks! Er, I was just being catty at 3AM. :)


Hope it’s not something lame like “my name is not John Harrison..I am John, Harry’s Son”

LOL that would be epic Abrams trolling on us

@36. Aurore

Here you go, another proof, with little spoiler on it, but you can compare to what is written in the comic.
RA to MUDD: Never Fall For enlisted men, Mudd, It only ends badly.
RA To Enterprise Computer: Computer, activate impulse Engines. Full Power, Bearing Longitude 35 degrees north, 3 degrees west, altitude two thousand meters above the surface.

What happened was that the Itunes store realized the comic one week before they were supposed to, so I got it, not even realizing they made a mistake.

Why is the red-shirt still alive?

40. TyrusX – March 19, 2013



I “recognize” you!

“Here you go, another proof, with little spoiler on it, but you can compare to what is written in the comic.”

I haven’t read any comics.
But, reading articles dealing with them, and, fans’opinions, can be interesting! Thus, I’ll compare…with the review of the issue…in a few hours…

I was intrigued by your guess about John Harrison’s identity, by the way…

‘Beats Khan Noonien Singh being the villain, if you ask me…
But, as you may know, I am a LITTLE biased, regarding that specific topic.


John Harrison
Harry son

Maybe the code was just “password” — Kirk was supposed to change it on day one.

Incidentally, years ago, I used Ncc1701 for passwords, until a university robot told me it wasn’t secure — “too common a password.” I tried adding an A at the end — still too frequently used.

@43 bardicjim,

“Harry son”

I like that a lot!

The only problem is its hard to imagine a son of Mudd getting involved in anything that doesn’t ultimately make him an enormous profit. He would also be a little young, assuming Mudd was always around Kirk’s age. But, I suppose if one considers Mudd going the route of a military industrial contractor like Halliburton or Blackwater, then there might be an interesting story here. A partnership with a certain Admiral Marcus.

Here’s the thing, Mudd was a bad man in Mudd’s women. And he was a big man. If the producers can make April go from a respected ambassador of the federation in the Prime Universe to a renegade outlaw in this one, then Mudd can become a much more dark and twisted character, especially if he’s been hanging out with the cardassians and bejorans. I wouldn’t be surprised if Harrison was Mudd! Marcus is the one that tells us His identity is John Harrison, and if Marcus is in on it, then much easier to help Mudd infiltrate Starfleet in the first place.

42. Aurore.
I’m guessing that JH is either a Klingon or a Vulcan. But who knows. THRUST NO ONE! Hopefully we will have more on him with Volume 4.

43. bardicjim

LOL It would be funny if that was indeed true.

44. Jack
Try NCC1701-A_USS_Enterprise then.

@45 More ^^^

It’s easy to figure out why Mudd would be interested in fueling the Klingon battle with April. Indeed, Mudd could be supplying April, vis-a-vis Marcus. An Ollie North Iran/Contra black ops kinda thing. Or he could be supplying the Klingons. But if Harrison were to be Mudd, it makes more sense that he be on the side of the underdog. Marcus protects April, sees the need for Starfleet to intercede where they officially can’t to keep the Klingons out, Kirk finds all this out and which informs his rejection of the Prime Directive on Niburu. Marcus is forced to make an example of him to keep his operation a secret, and perhaps even has to drop federation support completely to protect his butt, leaving April and the others to die. Mudd then concocts a scheme with Marcus to pose an outside threat to Starfleet to get them to change their policies, and keep the money flowing into his pockets.

Who but Mudd could sell a “miracle” cure to man and get him to become a terrorist in payment to save his daughter?

John Harrison is a Tholian.

46. TyrusX – March 19, 2013
42. Aurore.


Well…If I am unhappy with the story , I will physically harm Roberto Orci, yes. I already said as much.

However, I promise not to thrust him.


“Hopefully we will have more on him with Volume 4.”

We may learn more about John Harrison, soon.