Cause and effect is a concept as old as time, and the title of a terrific TNG episode to boot. Seven years ago, when Spock Prime attempted to save the galaxy using red matter, the resulting outcome forged the birth of the Kelvin Timeline, which produced three feature films in the new universe and launched new comic book adventures. Part I of TrekMovie’s examination of the Kelvin Timeline comic books focuses on the resulting IDW mini-series that the 2009 film spawned as well as the Official Motion Picture Adaptation.
Prior to the May release of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek in 2009, IDW launched the four issue mini-series Star Trek: Countdown, which intended to serve as a transition from the original Prime Timeline fans were accustomed to for 45 years. Bemoaning the idea of a rebooted franchise and the loss of the previous 726 episodes and 10 feature films from official canon, fans rebelled against the idea of Abrams’ restart. However, all was not lost.
Star Trek screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, longtime fans of the Final Frontier, conceived a backstory that would lead to the events of Spock Prime commandeering the Jellyfish and launching the red matter. It was a brilliant maneuver that demonstrated that what came before was integral to forming the new timeline, as well as continuing the existence of the original Prime Timeline.
Star Trek: Countdown allowed the screenwriters to have their cake and eat it too, as their backstory included the efforts of not only Spock and his partner in crime, Nero, but also Captain Data, Ambassador Picard and Geordi LaForge. Additionally, readers watched as the Enterprise worked with the duo to save the galaxy, allowing Nero to board the legendary vessel with full access to the Starfleet database, where the Romulan miner soaked up as much Federation history as possible, including the story of one James Tiberius Kirk.
Sadly, none of the events of Star Trek: Countdown were referenced in the film, which had different goals for mainstream moviegoers. However, Countdown was just the book Bones might have prescribed for long-time fans worried that decades of stories would no longer exist in official canon. The collected edition of Star Trek: Countdown was a success, finishing 2009 as the 51st best-selling trade, moving 8,100 copies, and providing an excellent bridge from the last final Prime Timeline story – Star Trek: Nemesis.
Star Trek: Spock Reflections would launch two months after Countdown, and while not officially connected with the Kelvin Timeline or affiliated with any backstory produced by Orci and Kurtzman, writers Scott and David Tipton attempted to fill readers in on the whereabouts of Ambassador Spock after his last known appearance in the two-part TNG episode, “Reunification”. Beginning on Romulus, Spock takes a journey to Veridian III in order to return the body of his friend to Earth, after a communique from Picard alerted him to what had occurred in Star Trek: Generations.
The four-issue mini-series was a wonderful walk down memory lane and included appearances by Captain Pike, Dr. Chapel and Lt. Saavik. Plus fans finally meet the species responsible for that brandy that Kirk appreciates so much – a Saurian.
Concurrently with Spock Reflections, Star Trek: Nero began a four-issue arc in August, filling the 25-year void between the destruction of the Kelvin and Nero capturing Spock. Star Trek: Nero’s story once again came from the minds of Orci and Kurtzman, as readers saw on-screen discrepancies explained, like Nero’s disfiguration of his ear at the hands of the Klingons and how the Romulan came to know where and when Spock would arrive.
Two terrific moments from the mini-series come when the Narada encounters a Klingon armada of 47 ships, a confrontation which is referenced in the film, and also the Kelvin Timeline version of V’Ger, which plays an essential role in Nero and his crew’s escape from Rura Penthe, where they spent the 25 years between events. Once again, Orci and Kurtzman show an appreciation of what has come before in Star Trek, honoring the past while presenting a new story.
Finally, in 2010, IDW published its six-part Star Trek: The Official Motion Picture Adaptation from Orci and Kurtzman’s screenplay, which included deleted scenes of the birth of Spock (which was to occur as the film opened) and Kirk and his brother’s final run-in with Uncle Frank, resulting in the younger brother stealing the car audience saw him driving. For the Star Trek fan, these illustrated moments provide a glimpse into stories that ultimately would change before the finished product hit theaters, as was the case with DC Comics’ adaptation of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, where William Shatner’s rock monsters were realized.
One would have to think that Spock himself would be proud of IDW’s portrayal of the Kelvin Timeline in comics, as the Vulcan should appreciate the ripples in the pond that his actions created. Overall, IDW’s chronicling of the Kelvin Timeline was off to a notable start. Look for part two soon, which will feature the first 12 issues of IDW’s Star Trek: Ongoing series, which launched in September 2011.