Following the death of Captain Spock in the battle with Kahn,
Admiral Kirk requests command of the USS
- and he is somewhat surprised when Grand Admiral Turner instantly
agrees. Kirk and his crew are assigned to investigate how
the Klingons are managing to appear and disappear without
trace as they make lethal strikes against Federation ships...
is the first volume of a series that promises to reprint the
entire original run of DC Comics' Star Trek. This series,
which ran between 1983 and 1988 is, in my humble opinion,
the best Trek comic there has ever been.
the Marvel run that preceded it, which was only permitted
to use characters and concepts from Star
Trek: The Motion Picture, and the second DC
series, which faced more restrictive control by Paramount
and was forced to remove certain characters at the studio's
insistence, the initial DC series was allowed a very free
creative hand. As a result, editor Marv Wolfman and writer
Mike W Barr were able to craft stories that not only worked
well as comics, but felt like "real" Star Trek and
moved the mythology forward.
Many of their ideas actually pre-empted future Trek
movies and series. For example, Star Trek: The Next Generation
boasted a Klingon crewmember, Worf, but DC got there first
with the creation of Konom, a Klingon defector, who makes
his debut in this very volume. Star Trek: Voyager gave
us a recurring native American character, Chakotay, but -
been there, done that - DC gave us the bigoted Ensign Bearclaw,
who is also introduced here.
stories - particularly Barr's - also contained plenty of fan-pleasing
old enemies and returning characters. In this volume alone,
which collects issues 1-6, we see Klingons, including Kor
(Errand of Mercy), Organians (Errand of Mercy),
Excalbians (The Savage Curtain), Ambassador Robert
Fox (A Taste of Armageddon), and a shape-shifter trained
in the same techniques as Garth of Izar (Whom Gods Destroy),
whose disguises include the form of a Gorn (Arena).
importantly, Barr gets the main characters just right. When
Kirk becomes annoyed at Saavik for not being as efficient
as the sorely-missed Spock, it is up to Dr McCoy to remind
him that no one could hope to replace their fallen friend.
When Sulu is left in temporary charge of the Enterprise,
he longs for a command of his own. My only real criticism
of Barr's writing is that he has a tendency to have the characters
reprise lines from The
Wrath of Kahn.
first four issues collected here are packed with action and
would have made a great movie. The subsequent two stand-alone
tales, Mortal Gods and Who is... Enigma?, seem
a little rushed as they try to cram their plots into just
23 pages each. The set-up of Mortal Gods, in which
a stranded starship captain has gone native on an alien planet,
seems to have taken place rather too quickly, in the mere
days that have elapsed since the conclusion of the previous
four-parter. Therefore, perhaps this story would have worked
better if it had been held over until later on in the run.
The notion of a starship commander going rogue and/or setting
himself up as the ruler of an alien civilisation had already
been done several times in the original TV series, but at
least this time we get the twist that the captain in question
is one of Kirk's former students rather than one of his former
six issues fit in well between the events of Star Trek
II: The Wrath of Kahn and Star
Trek III: The Search for Spock. It may strike
some readers as odd that Admiral Turner allows Kirk to take
command of what was previously a training vessel, when in
The Search for Spock the ship gets decommissioned.
However, I theorise that Turner is acting under the influence
of the Excalbians at the time, and they want as many ships
as possible to participate in the war that they provoke. The
final two issues build towards The Search by setting
up the peace negotiations mentioned in that movie.
could be biased, because this series was the first Star
Trek comic I ever encountered, but I have a soft spot
for the work of penciller Tom Sutton and inker Ricardo Villagran.
Occasionally, characters' bodies and hardware such as starships
appear a little out of proportion, but Sutton and Villagran
are very good at capturing the likenesses of the screen actors
while maintaining a sense of dynamic action, unlike many other
artists, who are lost without reference photographs.
Amendola, the guest inker for Mortal Gods, has a sketchier
style than Villagran, which isn't entirely to my liking. However,
it does at least highlight the important contribution that
inkers make - they do more than simply trace over the penciller's
work, contrary to a memorable line in the movie Chasing
appears to have accessed the original printing films, rather
than resorting to scanning from old comics, because the fine
details of the artwork show up like never before.
However, the reproduction is less kind to the work of colourist
Michele Wolfman, whose brash and bold paintwork was created
with the newsprint-style paper of 1980s comic books in mind.
Shown here on the pristine white paper stock that Titan has
chosen, her colours look rather crude. Titan should perhaps
have chosen cheaper paper, but you can compensate for this
by dimming the lights before you read. No, really - it works!
volume also contains a new introduction by Walter (Chekov)
Koenig, who discusses the second and third films rather than
the comics that take place between them; ten-year-old interviews
with William (Kirk) Shatner and DeForest (McCoy) Kelley; and
all six of the comics' original covers.
If you're a fan of vintage comics or of Kirk and his crew
- or, indeed, both - you should boldly go to the shops and
beam up this excellent collection.
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