Stamets’ Love Story is a Match Made in Space in Star Trek: Discovery Annual 2018 – Review & Preview

Review: Star Trek: Discovery Annual 2018

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: Mike Johnson and Kirsten Beyer
Art by: Angel Hernandez with colors by Mark Roberts

With production about to start on season two this month, we’re still a long way away from new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery. However, IDW has us covered with no shortage of Trek-related comics for the foreseeable future. This onslaught of new titles includes the double-sized Star Trek: Discovery Annual 2018 featuring the long-awaited backstory of Lt. Paul Stamets. It spans his first encounter with the mycelial network (in the form of prototaxites stellaviatori) to, most importantly how he met Dr. Hugh Culber (humming the atrocious Kasseelian Opera) in a cafe on Alpha Centauri.

Cover by Angel Hernandez

The Stamets-Culber relationship – the first for a same-sex couple in Star Trek TV history – was part of the initial promotion of the show and quickly caught on with fans once Wilson Cruz and Anthony Rapp shared the screen together. Since we live in a world where we can’t have nice things, the decision was made to ax Culber seemingly out of nowhere. To temper the immediate fan backlash, it was announced (literally within minutes of the episode airing) that Culber would be back in some form. We would see him return in “The Wolf Inside” and Stamets accepted a posthumous award for him in “Will You Take My Hand,” but that was it. It’s disappointing how short their on-screen relationship was – but thanks to an excellent collaboration between Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson, we get a wonderfully charming backstory of the “prickliest” member of the Discovery.


The Stamets portrayed in this issue is much like the one we met early on in the show. His personality is still, ahem, as abrasive as it ever was. While studying other strains of mushrooms for a terraforming operation on Devena Prime, Stamets and fellow mycology partner, (first name Justin) Straal, are introduced to prototaxites stellaviatori which would later be known as the basis for the Discovery’s spore drive. After rebuffing an invitation to the Kasseelian Opera from Straal, Stamets pulls an all-nighter studying this uniquely fascinating strain of mushroom.  Realizing its name is Latin for “star traveler”, he postulates that a mycelial network could allow matter to travel across the universe instantly.

After two years of research, Straal and Stamets present their findings to the Federation Research Council on Alpha Centauri. It’s important to note that at this point, neither Straal or Stamets are Starfleet officers. In fact, Stamets has nothing but contempt for Starfleet. So, let’s just say the idea of a mushroom-powered spore drive went over about as well as it did with the fans when it was first introduced. Frustrated, Stamets makes his way to the cafe for a drink. If this sounds familiar, you have no doubt seen the masterpiece “time loop” episode, “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad”, where Stamets recounts to Burnham the first time he met Hugh. “Hugh and I fell in love after I told him to get lost.” From that small amount of dialogue Beyer, Johnson, and artist Angel Hernandez were able to extrapolate a perfect representation of Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz’s phenomenal on-screen chemistry – in print. It’s worth noting that in episode 6 of After Trek, it was revealed that there was an extended version of the story left on the cutting room floor.

As their relationship blossoms, so does the research on the mycelial network. What unfolds is an immensely satisfying story that allows us to take a break from the what-will-happen-this-week breakneck pacing of the TV show (while we anxiously await said TV show). We get a refreshing, character-driven story with arguably one of the most interesting characters in all of Star Trek. While his gruff nature may be off-putting to some of his fellow Starfleet officers, it’s the thing that Culber is attracted to. Cruz described the relationship as “if you are always yourself, then somebody’s going to love that.” The only question now is what happens in season two?

5-Page Preview: Star Trek: Discovery Annual 2018

Click thumbnails to enlarge

Available Today

The Star Trek: Discovery Annual was released today, Wednesday, April 4th. It retails for $7.99. You can order it at TFAW with a discount with a choice of A or B cover.

You can also pre-order the first issues of the upcoming Discovery series, Star Trek: Discovery: Succession at TFAW.

And if you want to catch up on IDW’s other Star Trek: Discovery comics, the trade paperback collection of Star Trek: Discovery – The Light of Kahless will be released in July, and you can pre-order it now on Amazon.

Gaydos exits IDW

In other Trek comics news, this week Sarah Gaydos, who has overseen Star Trek comics as editor at IDW, has left the company to take a job as head of licensed publishing at Oni Press. IDW has yet to announce who will be taking over editing for Trek comics. John Van Citters of CBS Consumer Products took to Twitter to honor Gaydos and her work for Star Trek.


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Either the comic is wrong or the reviewer. Alpha Centauri is a star. I don’t think people would be hanging out on/in it

For someone with the word “canon” in their screen name, you’re remarkably not up on Star Trek canon. Alpha Centauri was referred to as a place one can be from in TOS. So, no, neither the comic nor the reviewer are wrong.

there are two words in the name with a double meaning. Figure it out smart guy

Some Trek fans have gotten so sassy ;)

In Trek they refer to the planet orbiting one of the stars as “Alpha Centauri.” It’s a reasonable, if confusing, shorthand.

Good to get some backstory for Alex Kurtzman’s Dark Universe. I wonder if this will hint at Stamet’s recruitment by Prodigium.

I have nothing but pity for you, feeling the need to endlessly comment on a show you don’t like. Sad.

Loved that preview. I’m in!

It’s a star, not a planet. But then again this is Disco, so…

Oh come on, it’s like people don’t watch TOS: Where Kirk refers to “Zefram Cochrane of Alpha Centauri”

But Cochrane was a drunk from Earth.

Try watching TOS, Kim Jirk. Clearly, you’ve not watched “Metamorphosis.”

It would be nice if Discovery could ease-up on that breakneck pacing and allow personal stories like this one to grow and flourish. We’ll see.

I feel exactly the same. Like they tried to jam 25 episodes worth of material into 15 episodes.

Ha! So that’s what it felt like…

Thank you for putting it into words, Robo.

I dunno, maybe I’m wrong or just old. I find pacing to be a major problem in most modern productions. I suppose they feel like young people’s attention spans are so short that they’ll lose interest without constant blasts of adrenaline. I prefer the slow build so that the “WOW!” moments carry more impact.


It was only. Season. One.

Hey I felt the same way with Game of Thrones, I wanted more when I first started watching and we’re right at the final season now with so much more expanding that could be done. I get the complaint, but it’s also something that could be worked out over upcoming seasons.

Kind of strange to release an “annual” when the only other Discovery comic title has been released sporadically over the last 5 months, but I am interested in seeing more of the series’s backstory.

I don’t think the decision was done “out of the blue” nor do I think the good Doctor is gone.
The show is serialized so while the big picture plot from season 1 is finished there’s lots of threads that will continue.

I loved loved Discovery. Was the best series for me after Voyager. Stamet relationship always felt to me like the gay equivalent of the token black man. It’s a start I guess but like a lot of folks I’d like the writers to explore more of the social dynamics of the time…..not too much that they ignore the sci-fi which was my biggest pet-peeve of Next Generation…
ps I hated Counselor Troi!! I hope no empath or psycho BS on Discovery ever!

Love Stamets! But I was a little underwhelmed by this “graphic novel”… not quite sure its worth the cover price, IMO. This would have made for an interesting episode, but without a soundtrack to accompany it, the whole “humming Kasseelian Opera” meeting isn’t quite as effective as their “goodbye” scene in episode 12.