The Klingons are after Captain Kirk with a vengeance, and
when he also manages to infuriate the fanatical Nasgul race,
a bidding war breaks out for the price on his head. Meanwhile,
Kirk and his crew must also face a vicious civil war and a
plague outbreak, not to mention a duplicitous Starfleet Admiral
and a new - and highly attractive - protocol officer...
has taken me by surprise once again. I was expecting this,
the second volume of its Star Trek Comics Classics
series, to pick up where the previous one, To
Boldly Go left off, with the issues leading
up to and including the comic-strip adaptation of Star
Trek III: The Search for Spock. Sadly that is not the
case. Instead, we fast-forward to the first six issues of
the second DC Comics series, which began in 1989, shortly
Trek V: The Final Frontier.
well, at least this volume benefits from the considerable
writing talent of Peter David (who went on to create the New
Frontier series of Trek novels). The author's keen
grasp of characterisation and plot is evident here, though
he does tend to exaggerate Kirk's gung-ho personality somewhat.
Captain has admittedly been something of a maverick in his
time, playing fast and loose with the Prime Directive in episodes
such as A Taste of Armageddon and The Apple.
However, even in those shows Kirk spent the best part of 50
minutes of TV time deliberating the situation before passing
judgement and taking action that would affect the fate of
an entire alien civilisation. Here we see him dismissing a
religious leader as a madman within seven pages of meeting
him, while his solution to another irksome dictator is appealing
though not strictly legal. Rather like watching 24's
Jack Bauer torturing a terror suspect, I find myself cheering
on a hero whose actions would, in the real world, fill me
with horror. I am uncomfortably reminded of the "we were right
to bring down Saddam, and to hell with legality" attitude
of George W Bush.
David isn't allowed as free a creative reign as he and his
predecessors were during DC's initial series. Paramount forbade
close focus on supporting characters created specifically
for the comics, so goodbye Bearclaw, Bryce, Konom and Sherwood.
The use of the Animated Series characters Arex and
M'Ress was also outlawed, so here we see M'Ress, who had begun
a flirtation with Sulu towards the end of DC's first run,
rather crudely replaced with an antelope-horned female crewmember
called M'Yra. You can even see where the text has been overwritten
to accommodate the change.
line with the broad humour of Star
Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek V:
The Final Frontier, the author develops Spock's dabbling
with "colourful metaphors" and Kirk's frustration with his
still malfunctioning log recorder. Further cheap laughs are
had at the expense of Chekov's pride in Russian "inwentions"
(and his accent) and Sulu's stature.
get me wrong, I like David's writing. I just prefer the first
DC series to the second. This deceptively elaborate star-spanning
tale builds to a magnificent conclusion, which also ties in
the consequences of Kirk's actions in the aforementioned A
Taste of Armageddon (the repercussions of The Apple
had already been dealt with in DC's previous series). Unfortunately,
we don't get that conclusion here. We have that to look forward
to in a future volume, whereas this one ends on a cliffhanger.
for the art of James W Fry and Arne Starr, well, I prefer
that of their predecessors Tom Sutton and Ricardo Villagran.
Fry and Starr's renderings are not so easy on the eyes, often
appearing rather untidy or out of proportion, particularly
during the first couple of issues. They are not always complemented
by the sometimes clumsy colouring by Tom McCraw. Things improve
considerably over the later issues, though for some reason
the artists seem to think that the Federation President is
Interestingly, developments involving the President and Starfleet
Command are the reverse of what would transpire in the subsequent
Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In the film,
it is the President who ruthlessly condemns Kirk (and McCoy)
to the Klingons' rough brand of justice, to the horror of
Starfleet's Chief in Command. In this graphic novel, it is
Vice Admiral Tomlinson who appals an earlier President with
featuring archive interviews with Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and
the late James Doohan (Scotty), this volume is not without
its flaws but it is very enjoyable nonetheless.
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