Star Trek: Year Four is the latest comic series from IDW. It is set in a notional ‘4th season’ of the "Star Trek The Original Series" (during "Star Trek The Animated Series"). The Enterprise encounters an immense planetary mass, capable of supporting 800 billion inhabitants, with only twenty life signs. Beaming down to investigate, Kirk finds Dr. Othello Beck, renowned medical researcher and Phlox prize winner [ENT ref alert!], working in a vast scientific laboratory left by a dead civilization. With Beck are the B’nai, creatures he created to assist in the lab. Kirk and McCoy discover that Beck’s ethics are questionable. He’s hiding a terrible secret which ends tragically.
Trouble brewingThe Enterprise takes aboard a passenger: Charlie Evans. He’s spent his life in isolation, never met a girl, and doesn’t know how to dress. So of course he’s one happy fanboy when he finds himself aboard the Starship Enterprise. He develops what’s politely called a “crush” on Janice Rand, snubbing all the other hotties on the ship. It must be her unpredictability that he finds so arresting; she’s offended when he slaps her butt yet when he somehow impossibly jams a playing card down her cleavage she’s charmed and impressed.
It was the best of comics, it was the worst of comics… The conclusion to IDW’s Star Trek The Next Generation "The Space Between" saga is both disappointing and enjoyable. IDW’s TNG comics have always been a mixture of good and problematic. Neither Issue 5 "Space Seeds" or issue 6 deviates from these expectations. IDW comics have a good sense of the characters. Each issues has presented characters that are familiar to their television versions. However, the situations they deal with and the narratives of the issues are problematic.
Once again it befalls me to offer the defense of a not-very-well-thought-of episode of original Trek. When most people bring up “The Omega Glory,” it’s to do their impression of William Shatner’s inimitable (well, actually, VERY imitatable) delivery of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution at the episode’s infamous climax: “WE…THE PEOPLE…of the unitedstates…do ORDAIN and ESTABLISH this Constitution–!!” It’s a groaner of an ending that quantifies Gene Roddenberry’s somewhat flat-footed idea of a rampant biological war between parties on an alien planet that effectively throws them into the Stone Age. That in itself isn’t bad (if having already been done in a sense in episodes like “Miri”), but Roddenberry (who was supposedly inspired to write this episode after viewing the actual Constitution on a trip to Washington D.C.) turns “The Omega Glory” into a Cold War parable that’s strangely racist, with warring “Yankees” and “Commies” descended from yet another culture apparently identical to ours right down to language both spoken and written.
Klingon High Council member Kahnrah and his granddaughter, K’Ahlynn, continue their discussion of Klingon experiences with the Federation. When espionage fails miserably as a tool for expanding the Empire (Blood Will Tell #2), the Klingons begin a campaign of conquest by subterfuge on the planet Neural (TOS, A Private Little War). Kinsman Krell, commander of the IKS Korthos, visits Neural on a regular basis and plants the seeds of conquest firmly in the hearts and minds of the village people after selecting Apella, a hapless villager, to be his liasion. In spite of Earther interference with the hill people, Krell is successful. K’Ahlynn finds little to admire in the Federation’s response to Krell’s efforts, but Kahnrah needs to know if humans can be trusted, and still hasn’t made a decision about Gorkon’s plan. Stardate: After 9521.6, following the explosion of Praxis, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country with a flashback to 4211.4, Commander Krell’s Log Entry #3854, IKS Korthos
It’s one thing for television producers to torture their fictional characters, but it’s quite another when they torture their hapless viewers. Unfortunately, that’s the result of this pointless, turgid, plodding episode. “Plato’s Stepchildren” is among the “bitter dregs” of the third season, if not the entire series. Here’s the plot: The intrepid Enterprise crew responds to a distress call from a small society of aliens with psycho-kinetic powers who torture Kirk and Spock to force McCoy to make a permanent house call. The crew discovers the chemical source of the aliens’ power, juices themselves up with a super high dose, and beats them at their own game. The end.
“Welcome to Bad Science Fiction Theatre…” “I am your host, Leonard Pinth-Garnell.” Some readers of this site have expressed concern at what they consider the undue flippancy with which I’ve summarized some previous episodes of “Star Trek.” Therefore I shall endeavor, this week, to stick strictly to the facts of the plot in my synopsis.
As part of his valiant efforts to keep the Trek community informed, Anthony has foolishly graciously invited me to contribute reviews of Star Trek comics to the Trek Movie Report. What was he thinking? We’ll get started by catching up with IDW Publishing‘s second mini-series, Star Trek: Klingons — Blood Will Tell. The first two issues of this five-issue mini-series are already in comic shops. Blood Will Tell is scripted by brothers Scott Tipton and David Tipton. Interior artwork is by David Messina. Cover art is provided by Messina and Joe Corroney.
“Exactly in some ways, different in others.” So describes the similarities to Earth of planet 892-IV (also known as Maga Roma). The Enterprise has found a 20th Century Roman Empire and Hodkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development strikes again. “Bread and Circuses” has it all: a high concept plot, richly drawn characters, humor, suspense, action, a blonde bombshell with a name ending in the requisite letter “a,” and great acting. It is also notable for plumbing the depths of the Spock-McCoy relationship and dealing directly with religion, which makes it unique among TOS episodes. Now it is new and improved and remastered…with double the moon goodness. The episode also has enough plot holes to swallow a dozen starships, but more on that later.
From the opening moment of “Shore Leave” you can tell this will be a different type of Star Trek episode. Kirk’s mistaking a backrub from the lovely Yeoman Barrows to be one from Mr. Spock shows the whimsical and subtlety sexually charged nature of one of the more fun outings for the Enterprise’s crew. Down scouting out a rest stop Sulu exclaims “no animals, no people, no worries,” seemingly shocked to find a planet that isn’t overrun with gangsters, Indians, or Nazis. What they have found is an idyllic planet full of misadventures that looks ever better now fully remastered in living color. It is a good thing that Kirk ignored McCoy’s report of spotting a large white rabbit, not a Florida White Rabbit, a human-sized one (with Alice of Wonderland trailing) or we would never get to visit this “Shore Leave” Planet.
Star Trek: Errand of Fury – Book 1: Seeds of Rage (Kevin Ryan)Following up on his successful Errand of Vengeance trilogy, Kevin Ryan returns with "Seeds of Rage", the first book in the three-part Errand of Fury series set before the TOS episode "Errand of Mercy." It’s a difficult time for the crew of the starship Enterprise. With a substantial casualty list in the wake of the events of the preceeding series, Captain Kirk is forced to take on new crew members and consider the futures of some who remain on board. While his security supervisor, Leslie Parrish, struggles with deciding about remaining on duty, Michael Fuller boards the ship, intent on avenging the death of his son. Both situations meet head-on in the midst of the Enterprise’s security department as the crew investigates System 7348 where a primitive Klingon culture is faced with their planet’s impending obliteration at the hand of ‘unknown’ agents.
TRIUMPH OF THE BILLKirk & Company save us from the Nazis and proves we can all get alongSantayana once said “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it,” but in the case of John Gill, he didn’t forget, he just made a really, really bad call. It was a bad call, John, a bad call. Thus goes “Patterns of Force,” in which a Federation historian (this time not an unhinged captain, commodore or woman who wants to change bodies with Kirk for a change showing that even academics can get into the act of nearly destroying, not only one planet, but possibly two) uses Nazi German as the template for a brave new Ayran world. It’s such a great idea that the neo-cons watching this episode as kids probably thought what a great idea this would be oneday…but I digress.
Here’s another classic Trek episode that needs no defense—in fact it’s one of the all time greats, and probably ranks among my top handful of Star Trek episodes ever made. Kirk and Spock meet the franchise’s first Klingons and wind up coming up against a far more powerful—but ultimately benevolent—force when the Federation and Klingon Empire begin a rush to war.
“Tomorrow is Yesterday” is one of those Original Series episodes that is just plain fun, with a few melodramatic moments, an interesting science fiction concept, lurching starship sets (or at least lurching cameras), and a few obligatory fistfights. One could very easily watch it, feel satisfied that this was vintage Trek, and go on to the next episode on a TOS DVD without taking a critical look some forty years after it first aired in 1967. Anniversaries work their way into reviews like this; the episode aired about twenty years after pilot Kenneth Arnold spotted what people immediately began calling flying saucers and UFOs, and only two days before the tragic Apollo 1 fire, which is somewhat ironic given the mention of the “first manned moon shot” heard over the Enterprise bridge speaker
GETTING INTO THE ACTIONWhether you’re a die-hard fan of the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Voyager (and, god help you, if you are), it’s hard to argue that there’s only one series which did comedy well and that was Classic Trek. Unlike Next Generation (which tried to be funny, painfully in episodes like "Manhunt" and the somewhat wittier "Captains Holiday" in which Picard vacations on a pleasure planet with the story eventually degenerating into mindless technobabble) and Voyager, Classic Trek and Deep Space Nine were the only series for which humor was an essential ingredient.
“Will the last one through the time machine please turn out the lights?” The sun of the planet Sarpeidon will explode in less than four hours, destroying everything for hundreds of millions of miles around. Since long-range scans show no intelligent life on the planet in need of rescue, Captain Kirk thinks it would be a good idea to go there and nose around for a while just before the big bang. Who knows, maybe the Prime Directive has a special exemption in these cases for looting or something.
Ahh yes… "And The Children Shall Lead" is another often maligned episode from Trek’s infamous 3rd season. The episode is so unremarkable that doing a review of it was reduced to a chore that neither Anthony, myself nor any of our regular contributors really wanted to do. I got inspired to write it first so I win? Although Trek’s producers may have been better off taking W.C. Fields advice to "never work with children," the Remastering actually gives us a chance to take another look.
The Enterprise crew are on their way to some well-deserved R&R when Starfleet orders them to investigate the radio silence from the billions of inhabitants of the Gamma 7A system, as well as the loss of the starship Intrepid, crewed (despite being named for a U.S. aircraft carrier) by Vulcans. The Enterprise discovers a huge black splotch, which Spock identifies as “a zone of energy which is incompatible with our living and mechanical processes.” Worse, inside lurks—I kid you not—a giant space amoeba, some 11,000 miles wide (the metric system having fallen by the wayside for this episode).
"Bring Back Kirk!"Enterprise finds one of its sister ships, the Event Horizon – uh, Defiant – floating dead in space. Everyone important beams over and finds the crew dead with their hands wrapped around one another’s throats. After much investigation and careful consideration, "Bones" rules out natural causes and concludes that they killed each other. He also discovers that props and corpses aboard the ship are becoming immaterial. Fortunately, whatever’s going on doesn’t affect deck floors.
"The City on the Edge of Forever" is one of Star Trek’s finest hours. Harlan Ellison’s tale of personal sacrifice on behalf of others serves as the touchstone from which the lives of McCoy, Spock, and Kirk flow in David R. George III’s Crucible trilogy. These books, commissioned for the fortieth anniversary celebration, are unique in that they stand outside all other literary continuity. George limits himself to the original episodes, the animated series, and what we know of the original crew from references in later Treks. Also, while the stories can, theoretically, be read in any order, they really should be read in their order of release. The interweaving stories read better in order, and could serve to spoil the enjoyment of the other books. Sadly, reading the books in order may wind up leaving readers with a sub-par feeling at the end.
Didn’t like the finale of Star Trek: Enterprise? You’re not alone. Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin (and, incidentally, Pocket Books) are counting on that as they present "The Good That Men Do." The book is the first in the ‘relaunch’ of the Enterprise series in novel form. Primarily it is an attempt to undo the damage that 24th century Trek imposed on Enterprise in "These Are The Voyages," while also setting up the arcs for where Pocket plans on taking the series (story here). The book adequately performs these duties, but not without running into its own problems along the way. NOTE: SPOILERS BELOW
Robert Bloch’s “Wolf in the Fold” is typical both of the horror writer’s contributions to the series (he also wrote “What Are Little Girls Made Of? and “Catspaw”) and of the show’s second season, in that in year two Trek often presented some fairly dark and outlandish plotlines but shook them up with humor. The story centers around Scott, who’s accused of murder while on shore leave on the hedonistic world of Argelius. Scott’s under suspicion because a head injury has apparently created a temporary feeling of paranoia and distrust of women, but as the female bodies start piling up and the investigation continues the culprit is revealed to be the ancient spirit of Jack the Ripper, in actuality a formless alien entity which thrives on fear.
This week issue 3 of Star Trek The Next Generation The Space Between hits the stores with a story set sometime during season 7. After reading issues 3 & 4 the narrative threads that IDW promised are now becoming apparent. One thematic is that each issue focuses on characters, often one character, with a "A" narrative, and there is a "B" narrative with other characters. The photo covers clue you in to this, with issue 3’s featuring Worf and Troi whose romance is set against the story of the Enterprise crew being challenged by a very cool ship that is a hybrid of a Romulan Warbird, a Borg vessel, and a Federation starship. The issue deals with how the crew must defeat this mystery ship while Worf has to figure out how to balance his romance with Troi with his obligations to Starfleet.
So here’s the pitch: The Enterprise is drawn to a lush, idyllic Class-M planet set in the path of an asteroid the size of Earth’s Moon. Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to the planet and discover a primitive culture in place that closely resembles several Native American tribes from Earth. Additionally, vegetation on the planet (pine trees, orange groves, etc.) is identical to Earth’s, despite being a half a galaxy away- the odds of which, according to Spock, are "astronomical." The party discovers an artfully designed obelisk set in the woods, evidence of an advanced species later revealed to have planted human life on the planet. In the show’s opening minutes, we are presented with a tantalizing mystery and a major clue. Archeologically speaking, this planet may answer the question of how humans appeared on Earth. On paper, this is one of Star Trek’s more appealing high-concepts. Unfortunately, "The Paradise Syndrome" wanders about, indulging in silliness instead of exploring its more ambitious themes.
Angry Red PlanetWarned by McCoy that Spock is acting a little "off," Kirk is forced to agree after the Vulcan assaults Nurse Chapel with a soup bowl. Spock awkwardly explains that he’s in the grip of an irresistible sexual urge and that he’ll die if he doesn’t mate Real Soon. Kirk can easily relate to this, so he defies Starfleet orders to return Spock to his home planet. Vulcan is the most PC planet in the cosmos: a world of unemotional, rational, pacifist vegans. It’s logical, therefore, that we are introduced in short order to: A masked executioner T’Pring, a betrothed woman who desires another man and enters into a murder conspiracy rather than be seen to defy conventional social mores Stonn, a co-conspirator so full of lustful rage that he can’t help blurting out unhelpful clues to his complicity ("No, I was to be the one!") T’Pau, a planetary ruler so smug and bigoted that she indulges in playing lethal "gotcha!" with naive strangers ("Des combad ees to de deat")
THERE WAS, BUT NOT ANYMORE: DOOMSDAY HAS ARRIVED! Before getting to my review of the new “Doomsday Machine,” let’s get through the preliminaries first. First up, let’s address why it’s sacrilege to screw with the original Star Wars Films (ok, really SW and ESB, I never really cared what they did with Jedi – although putting a new song in Jabba’s court was not really a step in the right direction) and not Star Trek. The answer: because George Lucas, for all intents and purposes, is supplanting the original Oscar nominated versions of Star Wars (which resides in the Library of Congress among other places) for all time and, frankly, making them worse. The Enhanced Star Trek, on the other hand, is an alternate version of the original episodes which continue to be in syndication and on DVD and are not intended to replace the original 1966-69 versions, but rather exist as a companion piece to them.
2007 is the 20th Anniversary of Star Trek The Next Generation, and IDW is planning to celebrate by setting their first Star Trek comic in Jean Luc Picard’s time. IDW is the latest inheritor of the Star Trek comics license (after being owned by both DC and Marvel over the years). The six issue series titled "The Space Between" spans the TNG era, with the first issue taking place in season 1 and the second during season 5. IDW have assigned an experienced team with writer David Tischman and Casey Maloney doing the artwork. Considering that IDW has experience with comics based on media items (such as Transformers and 24) it is no surprise that fans should be hopeful for the future of Trek comics. TrekMovie.com got a chance to speak to IDW editor Dan Taylor and see the first two issues and we like what we are seeing (and hearing).
For the last two reviews I’ve written for the site I deliberately took on Trek outings that I feel are a little undervalued by the community—not so here. Dorothy Fontana’s “Journey to Babel” is an acknowledged Trek classic and would be even if it had only conjured up Spock’s parents, Sarek and Amanda, in the flesh. But “Babel” offers much more than that—it’s a solid look at the Vulcan family relationship (albeit one somewhat disrupted by the presence of a human parent in the mix), an exciting tale of political intrigue, and an Agatha Christie-type murder mystery that also boasts satisfying action both onboard the Enterprise and in outer space.
"For The World Is Hollow and I Have Touched The Sky" is a rather typical 3rd season Star Trek episodes. The story generally can take place on a soundstage and is mostly character driven. The first point is simply a function of lower budgets of Trek’s last year and is one of the main complaints for Season 3. Therefore the lower budgets relied more on the the story to carry the load and "For the World is Hollow" does try to put some of the elements together for an interesting mission. There is the impending peril of the asteroid ship Yonada smashing into a densely inhabited planet, McCoy’s terminal illness, and of course, a computer for Kirk to disable.
“If I Ruled The World…”The Enterprise, leaving the galaxy, discovers the scarred and blasted recorder marker of the only other ship to do so, the Valiant. Upon reviewing the Valiant’s tapes, Spock discovers that the ship hit some kind of “unknown force” and as a consequence of some (inaudible) events involving (tape damaged) and ESP and such that ship’s captain ordered his vessel destroyed. Captain Kirk decides to forge on ahead, reasoning that since other ships will someday explore this region it’s important for the Enterprise to leave behind its own scarred and blasted recorder marker to warn them off. Turns out there’s a big Energy Wall around our galaxy, despite the fact that the only thing more scientifically ridiculous would be a big Energy Wall around the heart of our galaxy imprisoning a demon that claims to be God. The barrier (now given the full CGI treatment) zaps a number of Kirk’s crew, most notably his pal Gary Mitchell and Dr. Elizabeth “Hotlips” Dehner.