IDW Publishing’s presentation of Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay comes to a tragic conclusion in The City on the Edge of Forever #5. TrekMovie’s spoiler review and preview follows after the break.
Star Trek: Harlan Ellison®’s Original City on the Edge of Forever Teleplay #5
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
Trooper, a disabled veteran, sells apples and pencils on a street corner. He knows everything that goes on in the neighborhood. Kirk needs information. He hires Trooper to keep an eye out for a man wearing peculiar clothes and carrying a weapon. Kirk is in love with Edith and distracted by what he knows about her future. Edith is upset and confused by Kirk’s self-absorption. Spock informs the captain that Trooper has located Beckwith. In a dark alley, they track down the fugitive, who draws a bead on Kirk. Trooper knocks Kirk aside and takes the full force of a phaser. Shocked by Trooper’s death, Kirk and Spock resume their search.
On a nearby street they find Edith speaking to a small group of people. She sees Kirk and waves, crossing the street to meet her beau. A truck bears down on her. Beckwith appears on the street and instinctively reaches out to stop Edith, but Spock pulls him aside. Edith must die.
Time resumes its shape. Kirk, Spock and Beckwith return through the vortex. Spock asks the Guardians about Trooper’s death. He counted, but not enough to alter the flow of time. Beckwith breaks free and charges into the vortex again, but into a fracture of his own making, locking himself in time. Back aboard the Enterprise, Kirk is trying to understand. Instead of the counsel of a first officer, Spock offers the advice and support of a friend.
In this final issue, the story focuses on Kirk and his relationships. A brief but poignant connection to a disabled war veteran; a personal connection to his first officer; and the unexpected intimate connection to a woman, whose calling to lead others in hope, isn’t very different from his own calling as captain of a starship. The Tipton brothers, Scott and David, conclude their adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay with grace and thought-provoking dialog. Even Beckwith has a moment of humanity that offers the kind of hope that Edith always looked for. While the details of this adaptation differ from the broadcast version of The City on the Edge of Forever, it’s clear that the spirit of Ellison’s story is what makes both versions memorable. I’m really pleased that IDW Publishing decided to publish this version of the story.
J.K. Woodward put an enormous amount of effort into his painted artwork, but it all seems to play out effortlessly while reading the comic. My compliments to Woodward for an outstanding job. The paperback-style covers by Juan Ortiz are very distinctive. My favorite is the cover for this final issue, which features Edith Keeler on a field of stars. Paul Shipper concludes his work on the mini-series with another striking movie-poster style cover featuring Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura and Rand. Shipper’s work is also very distinctive. In case you missed it, he provided covers for IDW’s Khan mini-series last year. You can learn more about Paul Shipper and his art in an interesting Visionary Trek podcast, Holodeck Issue 45.
Put simply, I think this mini-series is a candidate for IDW Publishing’s best product of 2014, and any year since they began publishing Star Trek comics in 2007. The very introspective story by Harlan Ellison, a tight script by Scott and David Tipton, with sensational painted artwork by J.K. Woodward, and distinctive covers by Juan Ortiz and Paul Shipper, make it a treasure for any Trekkie interested in good story-telling.
One last note. As you can see in the preview below, J.K. Woodward pays homage to Harlan Ellison by giving Trooper a familiar face. In the letter section of this issue, the editors advise readers to take a close look at every issue of the mini-series for the Easter eggs the artist has sprinkled throughout the story. If you haven’t been reading individual issues, you’ll be able to read the entire tale in the complete hardcover collection, coming January 2015.
Preview of City on the Edge of Forever #5
The final issue of Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay adaptation, City on the Edge of Forever #5, is available now at your local comic shop and online.
If you’re interested in a different comic book reading experience, you can learn more about the Madefire Motion Books edition of Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever at www.Madefire.com.
Look for part four of “The Q Gambit” at your local comic shop in Star Trek #38 and watch for TrekMovie’s review of this issue.
Coming soon to a local comic shop near you!
Next up from IDW Publishing is part five of the ongoing story arc “The Q Gambit” and John Byrne presents Mudd, Harry Mudd.
Star Trek #39, cover art by Tony Shasteen; New Visions #4, photocomic by John Byrne
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But wait! There’s more for your eyeballs…
No matter how it’s told, The City on the Edge of Forever is arguably the most popular episode of the original television series, and has inspired more than comic book writers and artists. It doesn’t take much effort to find artwork like these posters, created by fans to celebrate the episode. If you know of more work like this, please post links in the comments.
For the international set
The fotonovel adaptation of The City on the Edge of Forever was published in several languages. Here are cover scans of the Spanish and German editions. Other translations include Dutch and Japanese.
The main characters
Spock, Trooper, and Kirk. Where’s Edith? TrekMovie staff would like to wish Mr. Ellison a speedy recovery and return to writing.
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.