RETRO REVIEW: Star Trek/X-Men #1 (December 1996)

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Or – “When Synergy Goes Awry…”

The 1990′s were an interesting time for comics in general, as a flood of heroes unlike anything seen since about ’66 showed up in comic shops and the few remaining newsstands, and comic adaptations of other media increased about a thousand-fold as well.  Marvel Comics even made a licensing deal with Paramount Productions that led to a Mission: Impossible comic, and a slew of licensed tie-ins to the Star Trek franchise.  The most sublime of these issues came when Marvel chose to crossover Paramount’s primary franchise with their own, space-time continuum be damned…

Star Trek/X-Men #1
Script: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Marc Silvestri /Billy Tan /Anthony Winn /David Finch /Brian Ching
Inks: Batt/D-Tron /Billy Tan /Aaron Sowd /Joe Weems V/Victor Llamas/Team Tron/Jose “Jag” Guillen/Veit Troung/Mike Manczarek
Colors: Tyson Wengler/Steve Fircho/Jonathan D. Smith, Richard Isanove
Letters: Dennis Heisler
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Previously, on Star Trek/X-Men:  The United Federation of Planets was founded to unite all sentient life and protect it’s 150 member planets’ populations from marauding guys with various prosthetic foreheads.  It’s diplomatic/defense force is known as the Starfleet, and circa the mid-23rd century, Starfleet’s flagship is the Enterprise, commanded by James T. Kirk.  Organians, Klingons, Romulans or strange bi-lateral pancake makeup aliens, Kirk is there to save the day, confound the computer overlords and take advantage of the young ladies or young lady equivalanets.  One time, he was a medicine chief of a native tribe.  So, he’s got that going for him.

Charles Xaver founded his Academy based on the premise that mutantkind could live alongside humans in peace and tranquility, blah blah blah fishcakes, and honestly, if you need to know more about the X-Men, you’re probably new to comics.  If so, welcome, my name’s Matthew, and I’ll be happy to share my Coco Puffs and hummus, but I’m afraid all the Thin Mints are spoken for.  Cut to:

Space.  The final frontier…

Kirk, his science officer Mr. Spock, and his Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy have been sent back to a familiar area of space:  Delta Vega, where a strange energy anomaly turned Kirk’s friend Gary into a telekinetic madman during the series pilot.  (Technically their second pilot, but this is gonna be complicated enough…)  I love the interplay here, perfectly nailing the trinity in their snarky triad glory.  They find a strange crack in the fabric of the universe, a “psionic rift” that seems almost sentient.  The rift opens to vomit out two space-craft, one of which explodes, while the other lets out a passenger in airless space, who attacks the Enterprise in an unconventional manner…

Faced with Gladiator, a menace more powerful than…  actually, EVERYTHING is more powerful than anything they’ve ever encountered for this Enterprise, so we’re pretty much par for the course, but in any case, Chief Engineer Scott heads for engineering, not realizing he’s being watched from the shadows…

Luckily, Wolverine majored in expositionary dialogue at the Xavier Institute, and handles most of the heavy-lifting of the explanations for me.  Long story short:  The first ship was a Shi’ar cruiser, it got blowed up by Deathbird, an evil warlord from another galaxy, and the X-Men barely escaped by teleporting to the Enterprise.  Now, many of you may be familiar with the multiple worlds of Marvel’s multiverse, so you should be able to follow me when I explain that this CANNOT be Earth-616, the primary Marvel Universe.  If it were, Henry McCoy (the blue feller in the foreground, aka The Beast) would know EXACTLY where they are and what is going on, since he repeatedly makes Star Trek references, and is often written as a Trekkie/Trekker/whichever won’t get me in hot water when people start commenting.  With Gambit injured, the team has no choice but to seek out the Enterprise’s sickbay, setting up the joke that HAD to be made…

The rest of the team tries to sneak off to steal a shuttlecraft so they can get down to Delta Vega and find out what Deathbird is searching for in this strange future world, but before that can happen, the are waylaid by the ship’s First Officer.  And Mr. Spock has no time for bravado…

Oh, HELL YEAH!  That Spock, he’s one bad motha–  Shut yo’ mouth!  Just talkin’ ’bout Spock.  Wolverine quickly comes to, and convinces Spock to take the X-Men to Kirk to plead their case.  Something about the “psionic anomaly” strikes a chord with Cyclops, who wonders if it might be Proteus returned, while Kirk takes a moment to hit on Phoenix.  She rebuffs him, but he explains the story of Gary Mitchell, whose story sounds very similar to Proteus.  The X-Men and the bridge crew beam down to Delta Vega, to find that great minds think alike, and giant disembodies psychic presences do the same…

There’s some technobabble going on here, and Bishop teams up with Scotty to help redistribute the energy castoff from the rift, but what it all boils down to is that Phoenix and Kirk enter Gary’s mind together, trying to talk Kirk’s old pal into giving up.  The remaining aspects of Mitchell agree to help them, causing the supers and the space cowboys to respond the way they always have:  Swift and blinding violence!

With the universe now saved, the X-Men commandeer Deathbird’s ship (which is, puzzlingly, really HUGE compared to the original Enterprise) and set sail for home, but first there’s time for a little mutual admiration society time before they go…

Left to consider what may or may not be the past, Kirk tells his helmsman to set a course “to the future.”  Now, given the history of the Enterprise, that could concievably cause Sulu to slingshot the ship around the sun and into the 24th Century to meet Captain Picard and defeat the Borg with the power of phasers and libido.  At least, it should have.  Really, this book could have been MUCH worse than what we got, given the time-travel wackiness and the difficulties in explaining these casts and their whole worlds in the space of a few pages.  Kirk and company are well-rendered part of the time (the book has about a dozen difference people handling art chores, so some pages are better than others) and there is one Uhura shot that is dead solid perfect early in the book.  Of course, she then fades into the background and does nothing for a big chunk of the book, and you may have noticed a dozen or so members of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard standing about without doing much (or even being identified. 

The question, then is, do we judge this on it’s own merits, or slide the scale for giant crossover madness?  The art is never unpleasant, even if it’s a bit 90′s (and Bishop is like 9 feet tall most of the time) and the dialogue is clever, if generic.  Spock and McCoy don’t ever sound freakishly out of character, although Kirk occasionally does.  I guess we have to take the book for what it is:  entertaining, disjointed, not as incoherent as it should have been, and oddly compelling in it’s ability to tie the universes together in their own continuity ephemera.  Star Trek/X-Men #1 is okay, earning 2 out of 5 stars overall, and gets the broad strokes right…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  If this could happen, what other unlikely crossovers would you enjoy?  Battlestar Galactica/The Tick?  X-Files/Casper The Friendly Ghost?  Yellow Submarine/Metalocalypse?  (Actually, that last one has potential…)