TrekInk: Review of Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever #4 + Preview

Writers and artists rise to the occasion in the deeply emotional penultimate chapter of IDW Publishing’s adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay. The City on the Edge of Forever #4 is out this week and TrekMovie’s spoiler review follows after the break.


Cover: Art by Juan Ortiz, Subscription cover: Art by Paul Shipper

Star Trek: Harlan Ellison®’s Original City on the Edge of Forever Teleplay #4
written by Harlan Ellison, Scott Tipton and David Tipton, art by J.K. Woodward, letters by Neil Uyetake, edits by Chris Ryall, covers by Juan Ortiz and Paul Shipper


Kirk’s emotional involvement with Edith Keeler deepens each day that he spends with this remarkable woman. Edith is by turns, surprised and mystified by Kirk, and ultimately enamored. Spock’s research into the timeline yields unwelcome results. His discussions with Kirk take the form of circumventing the flow of time. Kirk is determined to shield Edith from harm and take her back to the future. Spock has no choice but to affirm that she must die. After a long wait, Beckwith finally makes his appearance and gets away. Kirk begs Edith to stay in her room with the door locked. She is alarmed, yet tells Kirk that she loves him. He and Spock sweep the area again and Beckwith, armed with a phaser, nearly kills Spock, getting away again.


The Tiptons, Scott and David, tell two intertwined stories in this issue. The first story belongs to Kirk and Edith Keeler as they fall in love. The second story is about Spock, his captain, and their mission. While the stories may intertwine as they’re being told, thay can’t ever be woven together. We know that, and it’s still a very poignant tale. The writers have done a terrific job handling Ellison’s dialogue, setting the stage for the artist. The only discordant note in this issue was the sound of Kirk knocking on Edith’s door. KNOK, KNOK, KNOK. What happened to the Cs, Neil?

J.K. Woodward hits the ball out of the park with this issue. His artwork is all about the growing emotional attachment between Kirk and Edith Keeler, and Spock’s concern for his captain. Many of the most interesting panels have no dialogue at all, telling the story simply with the expressions of the characters. Most striking of all is a four-page sequence early in the narrative that fades from color to shades of gray, as if on a darkened stage, where Kirk and Spock debate the possibilities and inevitability of their circumstances. It’s exhilarating and heartbreaking all at once, because we all know the outcome of the story so well.

Cover artist Juan Ortiz focuses on Spock watching from the background of the regular cover, while Kirk and Edith Keeler fall in love in the foreground. It’s appropriate for the story. The subscription cover art for this issue misses a beat. Paul Shipper features Beckwith in the foreground, with Kirk and Spock looking on from the side, but I was confused. Beckwith bears a slight resemblance to Scotty, and at first glance, that’s who I thought it was. Maybe the resemblance is intentional, given that one of the apocryphal tales told about Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever involves Scotty and drug dealing. Fortunately, the interior art shines through, so it’s easy to forgive the cover oddity.

Only one issue left in this mini-series. I wish the story didn’t have to play out the way I know it will, but I’m sure that the IDW crew will finish the mission with the same skill and attention to detail that they’ve shown thus far.

Preview of City on the Edge of Forever #4

City on the Edge of Forever #4 will be at your local comic shop and online, Wednesday, September 24.

Also available this week!


Star Trek #37, cover art by Tony Shasteen; Star Trek, Vol. 8, cover art by Joe Corroney

Part three of “The Q Gambit” appears in Star Trek #37. Watch for TrekMovie’s review of this issue. Star Trek, Volume 8, a trade paperback collecting six issues of the ongoing series, will be released this week too. This edition features three story arcs, “Parallel Lives”, “I, Enterprise” and “Lost Apollo”, previously published in issues #29 thru #34.

Coming soon to a local comic shop near you!

October will bring old and new Star Trek comics. The second volume of Star Trek: Gold Key Archives with six more issues of the Gold Key comics will be released in hardcover. Part four of the ongoing story arc “The Q Gambit” and the conclusion of The City on the Edge of Forever are also expected, along with a new fotonovel by John Byrne and a trade paperback collection of his previous fotonovels.

Star Trek: Gold Key Archives, Vol. 2, cover art by Michael Stribling


Star Trek #38, cover art by Tony Shasteen; Star Trek: City on the Edge of Forever #5, subscription cover art by Paul Shipper


Star Trek: New Visions #3 and a trade paperback collection by John Byrne

You can pre-order Star Trek comics at a discount from Things From Another World, just click on the banner.

Find Star Trek comics, toys, statues, and collectibles at!

A moment of TrekZen

Finally, I couldn’t resist borrowing a meme from Star Trek author Dayton Ward who borrowed said meme from The Daily Show. Someone out there on the intertubes is a pretty clever Mego customizer. Your moment of TrekZen, a pair of really snappy dressers.

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

Can’t wait to read this as well.

Dig those MEGO likenesses.

Wow. That shot of Kirk and Edith walking on the bridge, overlooking the city. A more impressive backdrop to their budding romance than Floyd’s Barber Shop, that’s for sure. With the scope that a TV series produced in 1966 could never have afforded, all of the wonderful touches J.K. Woodward has brought to this project (the last issue featured a cameo appearance by Blood from Ellison’s “A Boy and His Dog”), not to mention some artful enhancements to Ellison’s original dialogue and story, it’s just possible that even science fiction’s Last Angry Man might agree that, in the case of “City,” things worked out for the best after all.

The dialog and story are much tighter and much more emotional than the original. I understand why it needed to be changed, but that said this really puts our characters in a mold so different. The only think I don’t like is the pirate Enterprise. That could have been dropped.

I won’t spoil it for anyone, but I do know the ending (which is a bit different) and can’t wait to see how it is depicted.

The other thing about this is that Kirk will never be the same again. It was too bad that TV back then couldn’t show those changes. Kirk was just fine in the next episode. By contrast, Picard after “The Inner Light” was never the same.

I do like that Kirk shows a lot more anguish here over the decision — but I also think Kirk holding himself back (instead of Spock stopping him) makes the aired episode especially sad (and lovely). Or maybe because that’s the story I’ve known for 35 years. Counter-views welcome.

Still. Neat.

Jim. Edith Kellier must Die! is still one of the most powerful statements in all of Star Trek.

again looking forward to those issue,city has been a joy to read,i hope they do it with some of the other scripts,which were either changed that much like city or not done at all so phase 2 stories,i just wish the comic book writers could help out with the films

Or… we do this… then, when we have the Enterprise back, we hang a wicked warp 10 around the sun, go back to just before Edith dies… use the transporter… put Edith in the driver’s seat of the truck… and Hitler right in the truck’s path!
BOOM! Hitler kisses a Mack Truck and Edith is a hero.

@ 8–

That’s pretty close to an actual story published in the then-premier Trek fanzine “Babel” many, many years ago (wish I still had it). Kirk, not that old but about to retire anyway, takes the Enterprise back in time on a final mission to save Edith. They can’t just beam her up, as that would change the historical fact that she died in 1930. Somehow they manage to save her from being hit by the truck while making it appear that she was–the details are hazy now, but it involved McCoy injecting her witha death-simulating drug similar to what he did in “Amok Time.” Edith does survive and is brought to the future, but her memory is severely damaged by the trauma of the experience and she needs a lot of futuristic therapy before even remembering Kirk. The story ends happily with the two lovers reunited on the U.S.S. Aurora, the successory ship for most of Kirk’s old crew. I remember the piece as actually being fairly well-written, but of course it totally undoes the grand tragedy that’s been at the heart of “City’s” power for the past half-century.

I sure would like to know how Joan Collins, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy (and anyone else whos’ likeness is shown in these beautifully-rendered pages) thinks about this comic book: I mean, as an actress known around the world for Alexix Carrington, yet always reverent about her role as Edith Keeler (see the Captain’s Choice DVD interview with her and W. Shatner), what emotions does seeing herself depicted in a COMIC BOOK evoke? This has to be amazing, “wonderful” fun for her! The ‘Trek regulars are used to it — but what about Joan? I sure wish she’d do a ST Convention somewhere — she’d have STANDING OVATIONS every time she made an entrance — and and exit. Wonderful woman!

Just picked up my copy last night. It’s every bit as awesome as the previews suggested. Kudos in particular for the sequence that takes place in “limbo” where Kirk and Spock argue over Edith Keeler’s fate; my only quibble is that it structurally should have come before the scene in Edith’s apartment rather than after, as a justification for the pure anguish on Kirk’s face as he comes to realize how much this woman from the past and her impending loss will mean to him. The contrast between the gritty New York streets where the rest of the story takes place and the romantic vistas of the opening page really give this adaptation the epic feel that the TV version or even Ellison’s teleplay never really had.

This sounds very good. I always wondered about this episode – if Edith has to die, why didn’t they just take her with them?

@ 12 Obsidian–

No disrespect intended, but why do people keep asking this friggin’ question?? Both versions of the story make it clear that the Enterprise people will be returned to their own time only if history is set aright–so exactly how do they “take her with them”?