Star Trek
The Return of the Worthy

Authors: Peter David, Bill Mumy, J. Michael Straczynski and Howard Weinstein
Artists: Gordon Purcell, Arne Starr, Ken Hooper and Bob Dvorak
Titan Books
RRP: 14.99, US $19.95
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 319 0
ISBN-10: 1 84576 319 X
Available 22 December 2006

When the crew of the starship
Enterprise accidentally discover a band of heroic explorers long thought dead, they must help them to acclimatise to a galaxy they barely recognise. When internal stresses threaten to tear the group apart, can Captain Kirk persuade them to become heroes once again...?

If you're a fan of Babylon 5, then this could be the Star Trek graphic novel for you! Reprinting issues 13-18 of the second DC Comics series, it features work by occasional B5 scribe Peter David, Lennier actor Bill Mumy and B5 creator J. Michael Straczynski.

First up is the three-part The Return of the Worthy, co-written by David and Mumy. A controversial story, this is an homage to Trek's 1960s rival Lost in Space, in which the young Mumy played Will Robinson. The Robinson family is echoed in a legendary party of alien space travellers, the Worthy, who comprise a very similar line-up, including a father figure, a daredevil pilot, a freckled boy genius and a robot (but no Dr Smith equivalent). Look out for a cameo appearance by Mumy himself, depicted by artists Gordon Purcell and Arne Starr as crewman Barnes, and the words "LOST IN SPACE" reflected in a pool of water on one of the comic covers.

This story marks David's final regular contribution to DC's Trek. Perhaps he had grown tired of Paramount's continual editorial interference - which is the reason why the Gorn are replaced here by a similar looking red-skinned reptilian race called the Lath. Unfortunately, letterer Bob Pinaha overlooks a few instances of the word "GORN", which rather gives the game away. Protocol officer R.J. Blaise mysteriously disappears after issue 13, at Paramount's insistence. She appears to have been redrawn as a red-haired crewmember in issue 14 and as a blonde in issue 15. David wasn't even allowed to write her out properly, despite a situation being set up whereby Ms Blaise (or is it Miss Blaise - the writers seem uncertain) could become the Worthy's "ambassador to the present".

Some of Tom McCraw's colouring is also out of register in places, and the repro on a couple of pages looks a little low-res.

Nevertheless, if you can accept its tongue-in-cheek concept, The Return of the Worthy is an enjoyable story, one that foreshadows Mumy's writing on Innovation's Lost in Space comic, in which he developed the characters and their situation in arguably more serious and grown-up ways than the original series.

In orbit around a planet that is due to disintegrate in a matter of hours, Kirk and co are surprised to detect a lone humanoid on its surface - a humanoid who is reluctant to leave...

Worldsinger is a one-shot tale that takes us back to the Enterprise's initial five-year mission under Captain Kirk. It also features writing by the pre-B5 J. Michael Straczynski, though you probably wouldn't guess it was him if you didn't see his credit. Despite a characteristically mystical story element and a couple of brief allusions to hell, this is very much traditional Trek.

Artists Purcell and Starr have fun with the classic environment, depicting Kirk in a couple of his famous "under telepathic attack" poses, though, as with The Return of the Worthy, the resolution on one of these pages looks a little poor.

In order to protect the Needran System from increasingly violent attacks by space raiders, the Enterprise crew must team up with uneasy allies - the Klingons...

The two-part Partners? marks the debut of new regular writer Howard Weinstein. No stranger to Trek, Weinstein had previously written several novels, a story idea for the fourth movie and an episode of the animated series. Here he sets the tone for the then forthcoming Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country by depicting an uneasy alliance between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. His story is dynamic and full of twists, though he refuses to commit himself on the subject of stardates, instead taking the Eddie Izzard approach of using "supplemental" log entries instead!

I am less thrilled with the work of guest artists Ken Hooper and Bob Dvorak, who tend to make the characters look flat-faced. Some of Tom McCraw's skin tones are also a little odd: prospector Sally Gallan is coloured bright yellow, despite otherwise appearing to be a Caucasian human, while the Klingons become lobster pink.

Despite its faults, this volume, which also features interviews with George Takei (Sulu) and William Shatner (Kirk), will make a worthy addition to your collection.

Richard McGinlay

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