TrekInk: Review of Countdown to Darkness #4 with a preview and more

April The countdown to Star Trek Into Darkness continues this week with the release of the fourth and final issue of Countdown to Darkness from IDW Publishing. Klingons, Kirk, April, Keenser, intrigue and SPOILERS ahead. Ok, maybe more Scotty than Keenser, but there’s lots of stuff happening, including the trade paperback for those of you who’ve been waiting.

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #4 (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


In control of the Enterprise, April negotiates with the Klingons, offering the Federation starship in exchange for making him Governor of Phadeus IV. He sees this as the only way to save the Phaedans he’s protecting. Meanwhile, Kirk and Spock make for the bridge via the Jeffries tubes, while Scotty is tasked with taking back control of the main computer. April is a step ahead, nearly trapping them in the tubes, until Scotty turns off the Enterprise just as a large Klingon ship arrives, commanded by Kor. While the ships’s systems are down, the crew takes back the bridge and Kor prepares a boarding party. Against his better judgement, Kirk takes the Enterprise and runs, avoiding war but leaving Phaedus to the Klingons. Spock and Uhura reconcile. April and Mudd are prisoners. Admiral Marcus orders Mudd into the custody of Starfleet Intelligence. Pike informs Kirk that April’s program code and actions have been classified. Kirk is furious, but follows his orders. In London, at a Starfleet Data Archive security console, access is granted to John Harrison.


Even the Klingons are impressed!


Like 2009’s prequel, Countdown, the last panel in Countdown to Darkness leads directly to the movie, to be continued onscreen in Star Trek Into Darkness 05.17.13. There is one significant difference. No one had to read the prequel before seeing Star Trek, but if you did, you knew why Nero was so naughty. Countdown completely illumninated events that shaped Nero’s rage and actions. The story told in Countdown to Darkness is different; a puzzle without a solution. I feel a bit like Kirk when he’s told to forget about what’s happened. He wants an answer. I’m sure no one has to read the prequel to enjoy the new film, but I hope the movie answers my questions about the prequel.

I was moderately entertained by events that occur in the final issue of this mini-series, but frustrated by what’s missing. I’m basically a clueless reader of comics, enjoying them as entertainment and seldom reading analytically. That said, I was hoping to learn more in this final episode of the story, but I don’t think I did. There’s something there, but I’ll have to wait for the movie to understand how this comic ends. That’s ok. Roberto Orci and Mike Johnson want my butt in a movie theater seat and that’s what they’ll get. I was disappointed that Mudd is essentially mute and forgotten in this issue. What happens to her? Does she play a role in the movie? I don’t know what happens to April either, but it’s difficult to imagine the film unreeling without learning more about his fate. And our Starfleet heroes? Younger than their Prime counterparts, their personalities seem different, influenced and shaped by different forces and events. I grew up with the original series, but I’m finding the new Trek kids really interesting and entertaining too.

As with all the previous issues, I’m pleased with the work of all the artists. David Messina is one of the preeminent Star Trek comics artists. Marina Castelvetro and Claudia Scarletgothica are equally capable. Together, they’ve carefully choreographed the art as complement to the story. Messina’s art cover for issue #4 features a helmeted Klingon; presumably Kor. This cover is the lower right quadrant of the delta reproduced on the cover art for the trade paperback. There is a CGC-graded retailer incentive cover. The retailer incentive photo cover features John Harrison facing Kirk in a holding cell, much like a similar scene in the comic, where April is facing Kirk. What does this mean? My head will probably explode if I think too hard about this. If you’re in Canada, for Ottawa Comiccon, May 10 to May 12, 2013, grab a copy of the retailer exclusive edition of Countdown to Darkness #4 while you’re there and send me a postcard.

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #4 A, cover art by David Messina Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #4 B, photo cover

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

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #4 RI CGC, cover art by David Messina Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #4 RE, Ottawa Comiccon

Cover RI CGC: Art by David Messina and colors by Claudia Scarletgothica, Cover RE Ottawa Comiccon: Art by David Messina

Preview of Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #4

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

Countdown to Darkness #4 will be available at your local comic shop Wednesday, April 10. 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.

Star Trek:
(3rd Ptg)
Star Trek:
Star Trek:
Star Trek:
tfaw tfaw tfaw tfaw
$3.19 $3.59 $3.59 $3.19

Also available this week

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness
Mike Johnson (w) • David Messina (a & c)

The countdown to the motion picture event of 2013 begins here, in this blockbuster 4-issue prequel mini-series that sets the stage for the upcoming STAR TREK film! Like the best-selling STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN in 2009, this all-new series leads directly into the next movie, with a story by STAR TREK writer/producer Roberto Orci and Mike Johnson (STAR TREK ongoing series), and drawn by the original STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN artist, David Messina! STAR TREK: COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS is the can’t-miss lead-in to the new adventures of the Enterprise crew!

TPB • FC • $17.99 • 104 pages • ISBN 978-1-61377-623-0

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #4 RI CGC, cover art by David Messina

Cover art by David Messina and colors by Claudia Scarletgothica

Star Trek Space-Spanning Treasury Edition
Mike Johnson (w) • Stephen Molnar (a) • Tim Bradstreet (c)

IDW continues to boldly go where no comic book company has gone before—producing beautiful treasury editions of comics deserving of a BIG format! Collecting three issues fron the ongoing series that tell two complete stories, featuring one story inspired from the original series as well as one completely new tale! Great stories by ace Trek scribe Mike Johnson and stupendous art by Stephen Molnar featuring THE RETURN OF THE ARCHONS and THE REDSHIRTS STORY!

FC • 72 pages • 9.25” x 14.25” • $9.99

Star Trek Space-Spanning Treasury Edition, cover art by Joe Corroney

Cover art by Joe Corroney

Star Trek
Treasury Edition

More newspaper comic strips on the way

Heard via subspace grapevine: the second volume of Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics, featuring strips published 1981-1983, is tentatively scheduled for release December 2013.

Star Trek, by Martin Pasko, Padraic Shigetani and others

Newspaper rack card for the Baltimore Sun (?), circa 1979

And the fabric of our lives

Need some Star Trek comics fabric for those arts and crafts projects you’ve been putting off? A British eBay vendor, Fabric Angels, is selling 100% cotton fabric imprinted with Star Trek comic art and Star Trek comic covers. Get to work!

Star Trek comic strip fabric Star Trek comics fabric

Star Trek comics fabric

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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Is the ship on image6 Enterprise??


I mean image6 of “Preview of Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #4 “

These are great. I wonder if April will make it into the movie.

well i guess that theory about John Harrison being robert april can be now debunked.

Whoa – cannot wait for the movie! I’ll be seeing that before I get my hands on the Trade paperback.

Kor, eh? Wonder if we’ll see him in the movie?

Phadeus abandoned to the Klingons: “…is there anything you would not do for your family?”

One month to go – it’s the 9th of April over here.

Would be sweet if one of the Klingons we see in Star Trek Into Darkness turns out to be Kor.

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

On one hand I like that Qu’nos still looks like the Qu’nos we all know from the past 25 years of Trek series, on the other not to fond of the redesigned Klingon ship that doesnt look Klingon at all really.

But I am very willing to over look that, hopefully we will see at one or two reminsent of the Klingon ships of the past

This is all very intriguing!!
Age-reversed April is now debunked and John Harrison has some impressive hacking skills.
I was really hoping for more answers than questions from the last issue of Countdown to Darkness. I’m a bit disappointed but it made me more excited for STID.

The old Gold Key comics are awesome, I’m so glad I’ve held onto them all of these years. There are some great stories in there, not to mention the amazing art.

My newborn son has a changing pad cover made from the comic flannel. It’s available at Joanne’s fabrics. Nursery theme is retro rockets with hints of ST TOS!

So can someone who has read all these just tell me if I need to read these pre movie like you really needed to before the 2009 film?

Well gee, last time I was able to increase the size of the images so I could read them. This time the JPEGs only let me flip through the thumbnails of the pages… :(

@9. redrevan,
“Age-reversed April is now debunked and John Harrison has some impressive hacking skills.”

I’m not sure the review says this. I will need to read the comic for the details.

But April is in custody of Marcus his former first officer, and we all know what former first officers will do for their ex-captains. Since April has been classified, Marcus could do anything with him, including using experimental shadow ops de-aging formula to change his appearance and send him to London. Harrison may still be April. Either way, Harrison may have been granted access to the data by Marcus, not hacked it for himself. And there are any number of other ways this could have played out to prove you wrong.

But I hope you are right, at least about April.

@13. Curious Cadet

You’re right. But if April did get de-aged, he doesn’t need to access the archive about the code because he already had it. It maybe because he needs to erase some data about himself, we don’t know.

On the other hand, I have a feeling that Marcus is the center of all this vengeance against the commanders of the Starfleet though so I don’t think he’ll be in leagues with him.

All of it is very interesting though. :D

@ 8: The artwork for Qo`nos in this comic book has nothing to say about the Qo`nos in the movie – And the ship we see is actually the “single pilot bird of prey” we saw in the trailer.

I guess that the creator of the comic doesn`t really have much access to the artworks for the actual movie!

Harirson needs the codes to steal his starship seen in the movie, I guess! He needs the ship to beam him out at the starfleet confab attack and to take him to Qo’Oos. Even a god needs a starship.

I wonder why the full paperback Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness in the UK is released on the 10th May with the film being released on the 9th?

Hmm, you think the comics don’t tell us Harrison’s motivations, unlike 2009 Countdown but maybe that because, contrary to 2009, we don’t really know WHO the villain is.

Maybe, the comics is telling us answers we can’t see…If I remember well, Harrisson is talking about vengeance against Starfleet Command AND Kirk and also about familly. Him being Robert April seems improbable (but not impossible as previously told by others) but what of his familly? Do we know if he has a son? That would explain the “familly” thing or maybe, he just has a link with Phadeus IV story….

I’ts just suppositions but I find this comic really interesting…

I also think that Harrison could be April’s relative, maybe his son.
Harrison = April’s son.

All bets are still on. Cumberbatch will be April enhanced with “Khan DNA” and using ‘April Giant Gun’
You heard it here first folks!

7. That’s what I’m hoping for. I could care less about John Harrison/Khan right now. I want to know more about the Klingons. Is Kor in the movie? What changes have been made to their ships (like the Bird of Prey). Is the D7 in it? Do they act more like the TOS or TNG Klingons?

@ 22: As everyone could see in the trailer: The “bird of prey” is now an “one man fighter” – The creators of this comic books do not really have much access to the artwork for the actual movie so they probably thought that it was a “big ship”.

The “D7” was already in the Kobayashi Maru scene from the last movie – So it could be also in this movie.

And those klingons will be the “cold warriors” from TOS – Abrams and Co. (just like myself and many other fans) do not like the “space vikings” from TNG.

But at least the klingons are wearing bat`leths in this movie.

So, is this the “grave crime” he talks about in the trailer? I might actually pick these up if they genuinely tie into the film this time.

23: How do know that’s a Bird of Prey? That could just be a different fighter, like you described. I do like it, though.

I do remember the D7’s from the last movie, but I think it’d be cool to see them for real this time. I love that design, one of my favorites.

I’m hoping you’re right about the “cold warriors.” The space vikings got old on TNG, those costumes reminded me of the band KISS.

At any rate, I’m stoked about seeing Klingons.

Ha ha ha, I can’t believe so many of you actually believed that Harrison was a de-aged April?! Now on to the next wild speculation…

why are Scotty’s hair are red? lol

Ottawa, our nations capital is spelled “Ottawa”

Now go back to Woshington

@15. redrevan,
“You’re right. But if April did get de-aged, he doesn’t need to access the archive about the code because he already had it….I have a feeling that Marcus is the center of all this vengeance against the commanders of the Starfleet though so I don’t think he’ll be in leagues with him.”

Again, I hope there is no de-aged April, however, until I read the comic it’s hard to say what Harrison is gaining access to, but the way I read it, he’s gaining access to classified Starfleet files. Not just the “code” he used to commandeer the Enterprise. Moreover, Starfleet would have locked the back door April used, so he would actually need a new code anyway (assuming Starfleet kept such a massive breach of security in place) if his plan was to take over the Enterprise again.

I’m not sure why you say Marcus and April wouldn’t be involved together just because Marcus is behind the vengeance against the captains, and I agree Marcus is directly involved. But seems to me that Marcus would be helping April and vice-versa to exact their mutual goal, going back to the shared philosophy that saw Marcus leaving April behind and reporting him dead.

However, I think it would be awfully hard to help April disappear from custody, though if anybody could do it, it would seemingly be Marcus.

#12 – If you read the review, you have your answer. If you haven’t read the review, then READ THE REVIEW TO GET YOUR ANSWER.

I think the link to the film will be a little less direct than it was with the Nero mini. We’ve seen both here and in the ongoing comic that Starfleet Intelligence is engaged in classified criminality justified in the name of defense. In the movie, Harrison – their top agent – goes off the reservation. This leads to the disclosure or discovery of another instance of Starfleet Intelligence engaging in classified criminality … presumably experimenting on the Botany Bay sleepers in an attempt to create super-soldiers of which Harrison is the prototype.

Whether Harrison is an otherwise normal 23rd century cadet who got recruited for the Jason Bourne treatment or a sleeper who was awakened and re-educated/brainwashed, sent to the Academy, perhaps lied to about his past, etc, we do not yet know… but I’m assuming it’s the latter… which would make him, if not Khan, certainly one of Khan’s lieutenants.

The film seems to be teeing up the following moral quandary vis-a-vis Starfleet (and by allegorical extension, the United States Armed Forces): do a few bad apples spoil the bunch? (Think: Abu Ghraib, CIA black sites, cold war era political assassinations in Africa and South America, et al.)

And there’s the converse: do a few good apples (e.g., our heroes) save the bunch?

Is there any proof that the planet they chase Harrison to in the movie is the Klingon Home word? What if that planet was Phaedus?

Also I truly believe that the villain is Khan, but how did he do all this. Since when was Khan a hacker?

I am also still open to Gary 7 at this point (Hint Hint, In the fight scene in the movie Harrison survives a Vulcan nerve pinch, Gary Seven has been the only antagonist in the TOS to be able to do that)

It’s been pretty well-reported that the end of ST09 was going to reveal a drifting Bottany Bay as a set up for the sequel. Throw in Carol Marcus, a new weapon, the glass hand shot – all strings from Wrath – and it is safe to say there is a tie in to Khan in this movie.

These comics set up two plot points for Into Darkness: Marcus is head of Starfleet Intelligence – probably Section 31. He is somehow connected to Harrison – as many mention in a Jason Bourne type of rougue agent scenario.

From other sources its clear Harrison commandeers a Starship and heads to Qu’nos. The big question is why? Best bet, to rescue his “family” or the only people like him – the augmented crew of the Botany Bay – who have been discovered and captured by the Klingons in this timeline.

Kirk’s pursuit of Harrison is motivated by revenge – likely as a result of Pike’s death in the Harrison attacks. It’s a good flip of the Wrath concept – Khan seeking to avenge his family. The moral question is how far will Kirk go and will he abandon his Starfleet code to avenge Pike?

I’m leaning towards Section 31 not being named, or maybe mentioned once. M only problem with that: Section 31 does not equal Starfleet Intelligence. Everyone seems to assume that, but they are two separate entities with members that occasionally overlap or defect to Section 31. Would love it if it were in there, but I have some doubts.

#33: Oh, come ON. He’s NOT Khan and he’s NOT Gary. Sheesh.

I;ve read all 3 issues along with the original prequel. That one had Nero in every single issue.

I think that straight up Cumberbatch is playing April because all of a sudden Robert April is talking like BC in this issue. Also, his hair has become darker, as he appeared more light grey/blond on first arrival in issues 2 & 3.

There’s 15 pages left to explain Robert April reverse aging which frankly could be done in a half page hypo injection. Said injection/process gives him augment style strength. Done, next, release date please.

No Khan, it’s rogue Starfleet Officer Robert April who feels betrayed finally by Marcus for SOMETHING (which we’ll see in the film) after fighting a Federation proxy war against the Klingons for 20 years.

More or less.

Or it’s Garth pulling the strings, as the shoe to drop on the final page.

@35 SirBroiler,
“Jason Bourne type of rougue agent scenario.”


@ 37

Then by all means unravel the mysteries behind him. What other cannon character could he possible play, enlighten me

Guess who’s not debunked.

Guess who isn’t going to be debunked.

Here’s the truth: Harrison is the half-step-neighbor-in-law of a red shirt killed on an away mission, and he is out for revenge. He is seeking to expose the truth about Starfleet’s abuse of red shirts.

@38. BH,
“Cumberbatch is playing April because all of a sudden Robert April is talking like BC in this issue. Also, his hair has become darker, as he appeared more light grey/blond on first arrival in issues 2 & 3.”

I have to admit that in these pages April looks a lot more like an older Cumberbatch. I still hope they don’t do it (That TNG episode “too short a season” association still makes my teeth hurt), but it’s still a strong possibility.

The comics have set up a pattern of Starfleet Intelligence apparently doing really, really sketchy things — maybe, just maybe, Harrison is reacting to this pattern (or part of it, maybe something that was done to him? Or something we haven’t seen yet), and maybe he’snit directly connected to April? Who knows…

@39 – It may or may not constitute a “yawn,” but are we all agreed that the trailers/commercials call Harrison both the perp of the London bombing and “our best agent” – making him, definitively, a Bourne-type off the reservation no matter what (if any) canonical ties are revealed in the movie?

@ 45. scottevill – They have the canvas of the entire freakin’ Galaxy to work with and they revert to doing an “undercover spy” story? I certainly hope/pray not as I have FAR too much respect for boborci to think that such a tired, overdone, flaccid scenario was the best the Supreme Court could come up with.

@45 But “the best agent” could be referring to Benedict Cumberbatch or Noel Clarke (Since it was his character that caused the London explosion and he definitely serves in Starfleet).

@44 Aye this is what intrigues me the most – the effect of the shadow play of a higher organisation within Starfleet; which has been established throughout the volume series, hinted in Countdown to Darkness and the trailers – How this plays out in Into Darkness? Or if this has anything to do with the plot – guess we only have month now until we find out, I can only echo the sentiments of Mark and hope there are some answers/easter eggs to help answer some of those questions!

The identity of the villain is revealed as an anagram of the movie title!


@ 35 SirBroiler:,I believe you may be right into your story of thinking! Lets think about this now

1: Either Alex Marcus with the Origional Enterprise has found the Botany Bay and the first to be revived is Khan but hides his identity of Khan to John Harrison! Here tho Khan gets transferred to a Starfleet Starbase where maybe he’s gets into the Federation!…. Or

2: The Klingons have found the Botany Bay and Khan again hides his identity from the Klingons with them holding Khan’s people hostage with Harrison working with the Klingons to take down the Federation since we know now that the April deal has gone raw!

What we know now is Benedict Cumberpatch is indeed John Harrison but Harrison is a alias name to Khan Noonien Singh! The only individual who can defeat Khan physically and mentally is Captain James T. Kirk…. Remember Khan’s inexperience in Space Combat will be his downfall again!!

@47 WaylanderNeo: Admiral Marcus to referring as ” the top agent ” is Noel Clarke and not Harrison/Khan! The ring that Clarke puts into a cup of water is a bomb that Harrison oversees!