Review: T’Kuvma Sees The Light (of Kahless) In Star Trek: Discovery #1

The extended universe for the new CBS All Access TV series Star Trek: Discovery adds a new element today with the release of the first comic book tie-in. As the show has already been renewed for a season 2, we will be be getting even more books and, you guessed it, more comics. IDW couldn’t have timed this any better to keep Discovery alive during the show’s hiatus (Chapter 2 returns to CBS All Access in January). 

Cover by Tony Shasteen

Star Trek Discovery #1
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: Mike Johnson and Kirsten Beyer
Art by Tony Shasteen with colors by J.D. Mettler

IDW’s first Discovery mini-series is a prequel comic titled The Light of Kahless. This 4-issue mini series focuses on arguably the most controversial part of Star Trek: Discovery – the Klingons. Co-written by acclaimed Trek scribe Mike Johnson and Discovery staff writer Kirsten Beyer, it fills in the blanks of T’Kuvma’s origin and his journey from childhood all the way to the brink of war with the Federation in “The Vulcan Hello.” One of the things that makes this story so special is that the novel and comic extensions were conceived before production on the series even began. That gave Johnson and Beyer an opportunity to craft the story at the same time the show was being written so that everything would align – showcasing things that just couldn’t make it on screen. We recently interviewed Mike Johnson where he revealed how he hooked up with Beyer, what it was like to work on this series and what we can expect next. 

There’s a toothpick supply shortage in the 23rd century

As Johnson points out in his new TrekMovie interview, this series is bookended by scenes with Voq and L’Rell as they recover following T’Kuvma’s death at the Battle of the Binary Stars. Only referred to in a line of subtitled Klingon dialogue from episode 4, we learn the fate of Captain Georgiou’s corpse as it was eaten by Voq. It would appear that the first scene fills in that horrible visual as the surviving Klingons pick their teeth with the Captain’s rank insignia (but from the looks of it, it appears to be a Lt. Commander one). I will say I was delighted that the entire issue is actually in English and not Klingon – I seem to have misplaced my Klingon/English dictionary – but what I wouldn’t give to hear Mary Chieffo say “I will wipe my ass with this armor” in Klingon. This sounds like a job for Matt Mira on After Trek

Yes, 12 years to wait for a new Star Trek series is a long time.

This is the perfect context to set up L’Rell’s “legend of T’Kuvma” backstory.  We are transported to Qo’nos on the ancient grounds of House Girjah, where we meet a young T’Kuvma as he is attacked by a group of other children. He retreats into the forest where he discovers the Sarcophagus ship along with other descendents of his House, including his older sister, J’ula. She tells him of her plan to captain the ship to the Boreth monastery to study the teachings of Kahless (as Worf will eventually do in TNG’s Season 6 episode, Rightful Heir). 

Dark Helmet would be proud.

I will admit that I had missed Tony Shasteen’s art in Boldly Go (he was on hiatus while working on this) and he made it worth the wait. He is a master at capturing the likenesses of the actors and doesn’t disappoint with Mary Chieffo and Shazad Latif Javid Iqbal (you better believe I studied Voq like a hawk). Even what little we saw of Thamela Mpumlwana as young T’Kuvma in the show manages to shine through. 

A young T’Kuvma has much to look forward to

What I like about this story is that it accomplishes its goal of “humanizing” the Klingons and emphasizing that they are not villains as they are portrayed in the show. Johnson is quoted as saying about the Klingons, “They are an alien species with their own civilization, filled with individuals with their own dreams, ambitions, and vendettas…I hope they enjoy seeing the events of Discovery through a different light, and gain a new perspective on characters they meet in the show.” If the show’s portrayal of the Klingons has been a bit clunky at times, the comic is anything but. The death of T’Kuvma was straight out of the Game of Thrones/Ned Stark playbook – even though they are gone, their presence reverberates throughout the rest of the series. Much like what the aforementioned Countdown comic did to fill in the blanks about Spock Prime’s motivations and attempts at saving Romulus,  in order for us to truly understand T’Kuvma, this story needs to be told. 


Click the thumbnails below to see the first five pages.

Available Today

Star Trek: Discovery Issue #1 is due in comic shops today, November 29th, with a retail price of $3.99. You can pre-order it at TFAW at a discount. The trade paperback collection of all four issues of “The Light of Kahless” is due in May and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

IDW Livestream and giveaway today

Star Trek editor Sarah Gaydos will be doing a livestream on Facebook at 1:30 PST today with a giveaway.

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Too bad they killed off the only interesting Klingon in the series…

When DSC was launched we were told that the Klingons would not be mere villains, and that the war would be portrayed from theirs as well as the Federation side. It’s easy to second-guess at this point, but wouldn’t it have made more sense to include this material onscreen and forego our reunion with Harry Mudd until next year? So far Discovery has proven to be a frustrating mixture of the competent, the occasionally brilliant, and broken promises like this one.

Agree! It sounded in advance like we were going to get more nuanced Klingons, and a bit more balance to the point of view so they didn’t come across as growling, cardboard cut out bad guys. Instead, with the exception of L’Rell we’ve largely got growling, cardboard cut out bad guys. Such a waste of Ken Mitchell – in the scenes where he interacted with Burham and did a little more than growl he seemed to have potential.

This seems to be a growing trend. When they can’t be bothered to include important details in a movie or TV show (or aren’t allowed to include them by the suits), they leave them to comics and novels. Which is good for print. Not so good for movies and TV. We shouldn’t have to consult the manual when watching a show.

Well put, Fritz.

Out of the “Ned Stark” playbook? Hardly. The character of Ned Stark had been developed and beloved by fans for an entire season before his shocking death. T’Kuvma was neither developed nor beloved. They should have at least held on to the character longer to give viewers a chance to understand his motivations instead of burying it in a comic book that even fewer fans will read.

I don’t think the new Klingons are as inconsistent as some fans make them out to be, but I do wish their motivations were fleshed out more clearly. Maybe we will learn more in Season 1.5.

My attendance is totally optional. I’m in no way interested enough in this show (yet, and it’s not looking good) to buy comic books about it, which ‘fill in gaps’ that should have been filled during the actual filming.

Reminds me of that pathetic attempt to explain in a comic why STID Khan suddenly looked like Benedict Cumberbatch instead of Ricardo Montalban. Please.

Nothing against those writing the comics, but don’t use another form of media to try to make up for what was missed/screwed up in the film version. My opinion, of course. To each his own.

My thoughts exactly. It was the same with the Countdown Comics for Star Trek 2009, explaining the look of the Narada, and more of Nero and Spocks backstory. Instead of showing it in the film (even via flashbacks) we got that expositional interrogation scene with Nero and Pike. Although I really enjoyed ST 2009, this one (and the fact that they cut Victor friggin Garber out of the Picture) still bothers me.

Who cares? what’s the point, he’s Dead, the war is over & we never sae anything interesting or that we haven’t seen before-.
This should have come out before the show to help understand the character when he was onscreen- pointless now.

“You are one ugly motherf***!”