TrekInk: Review of Star Trek #20

We interrupt our regularly scheduled anticipation of Star Trek Into Darkness for a brief, but entertaining visit with Sulu and Chekov in Star Trek #20, the last prequel issue of IDW Publishing’s ongoing series. Comic spoilers ahead.

Star Trek #20
Written by Ryan Parrot, story consultants Mike Johnson and Roberto Orci, art by Claudia Balboni (pages 1-11), inks by Erica Durante (pages 1-11), art by Luca Lamberti (pages 12-22), colors by Arianna Florean, color supervisor Claudia SGC, letters by Tom B. Long, edited by Scott Dunbier


Red Level Down: Starfleet Academy Cadet Hikaru Sulu is in the running for the last available spot in Red Squad. Cadet Amy McKenna reminds him what success or failure can mean for his career. On a training run, Cadet McKenna trips Cadet Pavel Chekov out of her way. Cadet Jim Kirk gives the young man a hand up. Kirk has been looking for Chekov. McKenna has instructed Sulu to buzz the crowd during her Federation Day speech as his final Red Squad initiation task. His friend David tells him it’s too dangerous. Kirk meets Chekov in his dorm room and asks him if it’s possible to reprogram a training simulation. He also learns that Chekov is planning something special for McKenna’s speech and warns him not to do anything he’ll be ashamed of later. On Federation Day, Sulu and Chekov must each decide who they are and how they will live their lives.

Noooo, not Belzodian fleas!


Writer Ryan Parrott tells an illuminating story of character featuring Sulu and Chekov at Starfleet Academy, with an amusing cameo appearance by fellow cadets Kirk and Gaila. In this alternate universe, it seems that the most of the original series gang are at Starfleet Academy in some capacity, mostly as cadets. We learn how Kirk began his Kobiyashi Maru campaign, but mostly we see Sulu and Chekov grow up. This is a novel moment in Star Trek history. Of course, we knew they would do the right thing, but I appreciate Parrott’s efforts to give us a thoughtful backstory for these underutilized characters.

The artists for this issue, Claudia Balboni, Erica Durante, Luca Lamberti, with colorists Arianna Florean and Claudia SGC, have also done a nice job. They’ve captured Sulu’s seriousness, Chekov’s youth and Kirk’s insouciance in their artwork. They gave Red Squad some cool black uniforms with red piping. That’s a step up from the red jammies all the other cadets have to wear. For the record, Gaila looks terrific in her red jammies.

There are three covers for Star Trek #20. Tim Bradstreet’s regular and retailer incentive sketch covers feature a portrait of Sulu and Chekov at attention, while a worried-looking Chekov has the retailer incentive photo cover to himself. The regular cover is colored by Grant Goleash. The Starfleet delta over the Federation logo and starship blueprints looks very elegant on the art covers.

Cover: Art by Tim Bradstreet, color by Grant Goleash


Cover RI A: Art by Tim Bradstreet, Cover RI B: Photo cover

Preview of Star Trek #20

Star Trek #20 will be at your local comic shop Wednesday, May 8, and will also be available in digital format. This issue will be collected in trade paperback this summer.

This is the last issue of the ongoing series to feature prequel tales. After the new movie arrives in theaters on May 17, the comics will continue with issue #21, the first installment of a three-issue story arc, After Darkness, set after events in the film. There isn’t much else in the way of comic news to announce. There are a few trade paperback reprints coming this summer and fall. IDW panelists at a recent comics retailer convention announced they would be revamping stardates in the ongoing series. I’m not sure why. Comic book stardates are as varied as the stars themselves, but the new stardates will be canon. Woohoo! I can hardly wait! I wonder if they’re going to fix stardates in the previous 697 Star Trek comics?

We now return you to TrekMovie’s regularly scheduled programming. See you at the movies!

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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Looks familiar. The First Duty, anyone?

McKenna, eh. Would this be helmsman McKenna, later to be struck down with lungworm at a crucial time ;-)

Looks like a twenty-first century laptop on his desk.

“I appreciate Parrott’s efforts to give us a thoughtful backstory for these underutilized characters.”

And yet the underutilized characters have to share an issue. Even Keenser got his own issue!

I guess the message here is that Suku and Chekov are lucky to have any ink at all … Sad.

Trade paperback reprints? As in all the trade paperbacks I just purchased will be released again but with new stardates? Why?

i thought the mckenna in the movie was a He not a she?

The quote at IMDb does have Sulu referring to McKenna as ‘he’. Rats! I liked the idea of a female helmsman, even if we never saw her… The comic has either retconned the character, or it’s not the same McKenna.

The “he” thing can be explained away as Sulu mispronouncing “she” in a breathy way that silenced-out the S, due to being nervous & flustered as he’s just stalled the warp drive on the Federation flag ship in front of a fleet captain…

That’s odd. in deep space 9, when sisko was still a cadet, there wasn’t any red squad. Sorry to nitpick a bit. :)

@9. RoadSiren21

That may be true in the Prime universe. However, in the Alt universe, this elite group could have been set up a century or so earlier. It is also possible, I suppose, that Red Squad did exist in the Prime universe at this time as well, but was disbanded, only to be reconstituted a century later.

I hope they’ll continue the series beyond the ‘After Darkness’ arc. This series kept things interesting during the long, long wait between movies.

@11. Sunfell


It seems to be confirmed:

John Harrison is Khan!!!

The german magazine “Spiegel Online” at confirmed in a review that John Harrison IS an old and well known villain: KHAN!

Here is the link (in german):

I will see the film on Thursday, 09. May 2013 – can’t wait to see it!!!

Some lungworms are flea transmitted!

@5 Connor: Trade paperback reprints? As in all the trade paperbacks I just purchased will be released again but with new stardates? Why?

New stardates are for future issues of the ongoing series and I guess other Star Trek comics that may be in the pipeline. The trade paperback reprints I mentioned are simply reprints of DC Comics and older IDW comics.

I try to keep track of what’s coming at

@6+7+8 Your question about he or she is answered in the comic.

@ 13. Aggi


“Comic book stardates are as varied as the stars themselves, but the new stardates will be canon. ”

Sorry to be dense about this … But what does this mean exactly? Canon with respect to what? The movies? Or the comics? The Prime universe, or the Alternate Universe?

@10 ObsessiveStarTrekFan

makes sense. that’s a possibility. but isn’t StarFleet and The Federation all about equality? if so, why would the best of the best get a special training? shouldn’t everyone deserve the same training as well? or just maybe this red squad training only applies to those taking up command positions and not engineering, sciences, medicine, etc?

oh my. so much for my mini nitpicking. :P

@13..Instaban, Aggi?

everyone wave to @13 (also know as Retard Spoiler) when he gets the bannified…

some idiots have no sence of control or composure…

@13 — You remind me of a kid who ran up to me in 1980 and the ensuing dialogue took place:

Kid: Hey, have you seen The Empire Strikes Back yet?
Me: No, so don’t tell me anything about it.
Kid: I have to tell you this one thing.
Me: I don’t want to hear it!
Kid: Yeah, but Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father.


it doesn’t matter if it’s khan or harrison – the bad guy simply has to be good.

Aww, that girl is picking on Chekov, Sulu–attack!!!



Who cares if dude spoiled it. It was a horrible secret and marketing strategy to begin with, and besides, Anthony told us all the same thing over a year or so ago on this very site. Quit with the hurt feelings act.

Douche move to put the “harrison is khan” post, yes, but don’t act all butthurt over it. That “secret” was spoiled long ago…..

Agreed with 22 Mark Martinez. I can’t imagine any publisher being content with having to say “Hey check out our new comic book! It’s not canon!”

About Aggi (#13) and his supposed “spoiler”:

Let’s be honest here, that’s hardly much of a spoiler anymore, now is it? It’s ALL over the place, and I don’t only mean in the movie reviews. For an example, just take a look at the cast credits on IMDB. (I’m talking about the *credits*, not the plot summary.)

If J.J. Abrams and Co. wanted to keep things secret, then why are they releasing the film around the world on a schedule staggered over a period of months, instead of releasing it on the same day everywhere? Obviously all the secrets are getting out; what else did they expect?

About the IDW comics: They’re doing a prequel (“Countdown to Darkness”) and a sequel (“After Darkness”). But what about the movie itself? Is IDW not doing an adaptation of “Star Trek Into Darkness”??

7. Exactly. It bugged me that they didn’t make McKenna or Dr. Purie female. So white (seemingly), so male.

Not only Spiegel, all major German newspapers and even the theater websites mention the Harrison spoiler and others.
If STID performs as bad as the last one here, you know why.

What are the differences between the following 3 editions of Countdown to Darkness?

(Note that while the first is published by IDW, the latter two are published by Titan.)