Review: Khan Tries To Bring Peace To The Mirror Universe In ‘Star Trek: Hell’s Mirror’

Star Trek: “Hell’s Mirror” One Shot
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Written by: J.M. DeMatteis
Art by: Matthew Dow Smith
Color by: Candice Han

Ah, the Mirror Universe. Legendary comic writer J.M. DeMatteis returns to Star Trek for the first time in almost 40 years for a special one-shot Mirror story starring a (good?) Khan Noonien Singh. If you’re a fan of the early Marvel Trek run right after Star Trek: The Motion Picture, you might remember that DeMatteis wrote the final issue (#18) in 1982.

Cover by Matthew Dow Smith

First introduced in Star Trek’s season two episode “Mirror, Mirror,” this parallel dimension has been depicted across every incarnation of Star Trek in one form or another (either on television or in books or comics). I’ve always considered that episode my favorite of The Original Series and when DC went through the Mirror again in 1984, I was introduced to a whole expanded universe of comics, novels, and video games I never knew existed before. The Mirror Universe was my gateway into non-canon Trek so it’s safe to say I have a soft spot for these stories. 

With Discovery going back there in season one, to IDW’s Discovery, Next Generation, and Voyager comics, I was worried we’d be running into Mirror Universe fatigue. So when I heard that IDW was going back yet again, this time with Khan, I have to admit I was cautiously optimistic, but a bit skeptical. Thankfully, those fears were put to rest like the augments on the Botany Bay. If you ever wanted to know how Khan could function using his powers for good, then pick this up now. 


It is very cold… in space.

This alternate reality begins with Khan (Ricardo Montalbán, not the John Harrison version) narrating his history and how he got to where he is. In what we can still assume was 1996, Khan and his augments abandoned Earth to the Botany Bay and put themselves in suspended animation. Their failing ship was rescued by a group of Terran rebels whose mission was to overthrow the Empire. Khan eventually rose in ranks to lead the rebellion and enlisted a familiar bearded Vulcan as his trusted counselor. By the end of the prologue, Khan has taken back a third of the Empire and is poised to take over completely. Prime and Mirror Khan’s intentions “mirror” each other in the sense that they each want to rule the universe—but for very different reasons. 


Mister… Chekov, isn’t it?

Going back to Khan in TOS is the perfect opportunity to retcon a meeting between Chekov and Khan on the Enterprise (even though this is the Mirror Universe and wouldn’t count). So when I saw Sulu and Chekov on the bridge, I thought that we would get to see that. But boy, DeMatteis pulls one of the biggest twists in Trek comics history. 


Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny. Anything else is a waste of material

Mirror Kirk, in an effort to switch sides in the war, vaporizes his bridge crew with a phaser, beams to one of Khan’s rebel ships, and blows up the Enterprise, murdering his entire crew. All of this happens in the first few pages of the book and it’s shocking. In the brief time we saw the mirror version of Kirk depicted on screen in “Mirror, Mirror,” he was portrayed as a murderous, maniacal madman, threatening to kill anyone in his path. He was a bit one-dimensional. The DeMatteis version of Kirk is the same; however, there is more depth to his character, and his motivations are made clear. “Hell’s Mirror” is one of the things I love about comics – you can do pretty much anything, especially when you’re dealing with an alternate reality. 


Ah, Kirk, my old friend 

With Khan, Kirk, and Spock now on the right side to overthrow the evil Empire, the story really takes off. If you ever wanted to know what would it have been like to have a being with superior intellect on the right side of history, this is it. Khan takes Kirk under his wing as a mentor and turns him on to the teachings of Socrates, Surak, and Dickens. Side note—wouldn’t those be mirror versions of those writers, too? Khan reveals his plan for the eventual overthrow of the Empire (by creating a Federation of Planets) and the weapon he intends to use (it’s not what you’d expect). I have to say that this take on a benevolent Khan is really refreshing and the role reversal is especially engaging. 


Artist Matthew Dow Smith’s take on Montalbán’s Khan is fantastic and really brings you back to “Space Seed.” The same is true for Spock; the likeness is really well done. For the most part, Kirk is the Shatner version but sometimes it looks as though there’s a hint of Pine. Not a bad thing at all, but just something that I noticed. Overall the art is really great and allows you to immerse yourself into the story.


I have been… and always shall be… your friend

This is a really enjoyable story and I’m happy they just made it a one-shot. It could’ve easily been made into a 4-issue series, but I appreciate IDW’s decision to keep it to one issue. Like I said earlier, I wasn’t sure about this when it was first announced but it’s definitely worth picking up. The ending may be an allegory for today’s society and I’ll just leave it at that.

Available Now

The 47-page comic Star Trek Hells Mirror was released on Wednesday, August 25th. You can order the comic at TFAW for $3.99. You can also pick up the digital version at Amazon for $4.24.

Keep up with all the latest inked Star Trek in TrekMovie’s Comics Category.

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

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Interesting. This is the role reversal of Khan I was hoping to see in Into Darkness.

I learned to be careful for what you wish for regarding role reversal. In Into Darkness instead of being a superior intellect bent on dominating lower life forms you got a poor dude just trying to get his family back from big bad Starfleet Admiral. Imagine if REAL Kahn, the one allowed to be a villian, had the power to beam from Earth to Qo’nos..
That being said, this comic role reversal with all sides being bad news, looks good. I’ll probably end up getting it.

That’s just it though, they presented something different with Khan in Into Darkness at first, but he eventually turned out to be the same old angry guy hellbent on dominating people. Even crushing a skull at one point. It was boring villain stuff. More comic book than this comic book, ironically.

DC’s foray into the mirror universe happened in 1984, not 1991.

And it was great too.

The Mirror Universe saga from DC was soooo awesome!!!
I’ve come to realize it is superior story versus what happened with IV.

I notice that my comment about the sentence beginning with “If you’re a fan” was deleted. That’s unfortunate, because the line still makes no grammatical sense.

Similar to you capitalizing “Is” in your name here, eh?

Don’t sweat the small stuff, my friend. :-)

“Is” is capitalized because it is a verb. That is correct–all verbs, including “Is,” should be capitalized in titles. But your snarky point is moot anyway, since one is a screen name and the other is a sentence in an article. They’re apples and oranges.

Season 1 episode, ‘Mirror, Mirror’. Not 2. If it was 2 then the Wrath of Khan error with Chekov would not have happened.

No. “Mirror Mirror” aired in season two, not one. And what does Wrath of Khan’s Chekov error have to do with “Mirror Mirror???”

You’re thinking of ‘Space Seed’

A spoiler alert would have been nice.

Unnecessary. Don’t visit Star Trek websites if you don’t want spoilers. This is not a spoiler-free site.

thanks for the story joe… i can’t explain why trek fans on this board are so negative but whatever… this looks really fun. gonna get it.

I agree, very refreshing story.

Khan is a good guy in the mirror universe… Mirror mirror is a twisted reality. Overall, what a one intriguing story.

Well, tomorrow I’m starting college. Doing my classes at home because of the pandemic. Super excited and nervous but I will be okay.

University of Minnesota is my alma mater. My older brother previously attended there so he has valuable experience. He is my teacher and tutor in a way.

Going to Harvard is overrated. I don’t need to go to some elite college to get the best education.

I don’t feel safe at campus, don’t want to be infected and test positive. A vaccine is a lost cause. Studying at home is the best and safest option for me.

My freshman year at college is an experience I will remember and tell stories about to my grandchildren 50 years from now.

Going to Harvard is overrated.

As a Stanford alum, I gotta say: you’re right. The Vulcans didn’t divert a ship to tell Captain Archer that Harvard beat Princeton at water polo.

Congratulations — best wishes!

PS: Going to Harvard is overrated, unless of course on is going to Harvard. ;-)

PS2: There will be multiple vaccines available, and which will work, by late winter/early spring. Social distancing will not be necessary by next summer.

Vaccines are by no means a given. Historically, vaccines have been created for only about 10 or 11 percent of all major plagues–many do not have vaccines available to this day. Don’t believe politicians who claim vaccines are right around the corner because they want to be reelected. A good friend of mine is an infectious disease expert who has been involved with the vaccine research on COVID-19. He says the outlook is a lot more grim than what is being reported. Yes, a vaccine is possible, but none of the vaccines being touted as likely to be available by the winter or spring are actually at that point yet, and their efficacy is highly questionable. Vaccines typically takes years to develop; there simply hasn’t been enough research or testing yet done on any of the possible candidates, and there’s very little likelihood of that being done by the spring. As for social distancing, it will ABSOLUTELY be necessary next summer, if nothing else than because there are a lot of ignorant ani-vaxers out there who will refuse to take a vaccine even if one is offered, which means the disease will still be out there.

Absolutely not. This worldwide vaccine progress, which is like 20 Manhattan Projects running at once, Is way unprecedented, and there are so many vaccines that are already in, or are just about to enter, Phase III trials, that it Is probable that there will be multiple vaccines available in late winter to early spring next year. Even Fauci just said as much today.

And by next summer, yes, we will start seeing a relaxing a social distancing as enough of the population gets vaccinated, combined with those who have already recovered and developed antibodies, severely reduces the transmission rates of new cases. If 40% of the population gets vaccinated, and another 30% of the population has sufficient antibodies, COVID is toast.

Note that even if we get a vaccine that took 2 years to develop that is no guarantee that it will be more than 30% effective given mutations in the virus (and then of course there is no guarantee our new vaccine for the new mutation of the virus will be more than 30% effective given mutations in the already mutated virus).. repeat this ad finium and that’s why you still get the flu even with a flu vaccine (at various reduced rates).
Also immunocompromised pretty will never get the vaccine (but get the benefits of herd immunity provided by vaccine deployment)

Except that the latest research is showing that the mutation rate is less than the Flu class of viruses — about half the rate of the Flu and one-fourth of the rate of HIV. COVID-19 has certain enzymes which make it more stable than many other viruses.

I’m interested in a economics major because to understand how the economy influences our daily lives and decision making.

Taking a microeconomics class in college soon so that’s it.

Wait… aren’t you a TNG fan?
Will be interesting to read your posts in four years.

See you then

“The 47-page comic Star Trek Hells Mirror…”

I see what they did there.

What a fantastic premise to a story. I’m actually tempted to buy a Star Trek comic. This seems to be the best Star Trek story since 2004/05 at least!