Or – “Back In ’66, It Must Have Only Been The Penultimate Frontier.”
As someone who grew up with the original Star Trek series every Sunday morning, I was happy to find that the new movie doesn’t negate all those cool stories (and all those awesome William Theiss costumes.) “Operation: Annihilate!”, the original first season finale, was notable for two things: The on-screen death of Kirk’s brother Sam, and the sight of the crew menaced by flying rubber novelty vomit. Will the new timeline manage to be that awesome?
STAR TREK #5
Writer: Mike Johnson
Artist: Joe Corroney
Colorist: John Rauch
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Based On The Original Teleplay of ‘Operation: Annihilate!’ by Oliver Crawford and Steven W. Carabatsos
Creative Consultatn: Roberto Orci
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously, in Star Trek: Originally aired on NBC in the late 1960s, Star Trek was never a ratings juggernaut, but in the early days of demographic analysis, was seen to be popular with the right people (as well as well-written and acted.) 45 years later, the program is a more than just a TV show, but a cultural touchstone that has spawned multiple spinoffs and theatrical movies. In Star Trek’s last outing, Spock of Vulcan traveled back in time to stop the rampage of a Romulan called Nero, creating a new timeline wherein the lives of his younger self and his friends changed drastically. Now, we are treated to the another set of voyages of the Starship Enterprise, it’s five-year mission to explore strange new worlds… To seek out new life and new civilizations… To boldly go where no man has gone before!
CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER…
As soon as IDW announced that this series would be retelling TOS episodes in the new continuity, I wondered how that would even work. You can’t just throw these characters into things willy-nilly and redo ‘The Empath’ or ‘The Tholian Web’ moment for moment, can you? This issue quickly put some of my fears to rest, as we start out with events that mirror those of the original episode: The Enterprise watches a ship burn up in a sun, and end up following a trail of what is described as “a pattern of mass insanity” to the planet Deneva. But they also give us a flashback to Jim Kirk’s childhood (in the wake of the “Corvette in the canyon” events told in the 2009 film) that addresses the one question that I had about this issue: Does Kirk even HAVE a big brother in this continuity? The events on planet Deneva unfold similarly to the original episode, but I find myself a little bit distracted by two issues: First, the artist does a pretty good job of capturing Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto, but Kirk comes across as a combination of Chris Pine and William Shatner, and the dialogue in my head keeps coming out in Shatner’s voice. Spock’s attack by giant flying fried eggs occurs as it did in the original continuity, before things suddenly take a turn…
The rest of the issue is, essentially, a chase/battle sequence between the away team and the maddened population of Deneva, featuring some phaser-blasty and fighty-fighty, and a remarkably strong-showing from the red-shirts (one of whom, progressively, seems to a woman of Arabic descent) as our Starfleet stalwarts seek out safe ground to deal with Spock’s injuries. They’re caught in a crossfire, but before the inevitable Bolivan Army moment, a hatch in the floor beneath them opens, and a savior appears. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I will say at least this: It’s not William Shatner in a moustache. There are those (Major Spoilers’ own Stephen among them) who find that the re-imagined Star Trek channels the “dirty and dissipated” future of Star Wars for part of their visuals, and I imagine that there is a grain of truth there, but artist Joe Corroney does good work in this issue keeping things in line with both the old-school and reworked Star Trek visions. In addition to a good McCoy & Spock, his Chekov is great, his Sulu & Uhura not bad, and his rendering of the plexiglass and white interiors of the Enterprise works well. Deneva is, for all intents and purposes, running through corridors ala Doctor Who, but the art does what a licensed title has to do: Not distract you with how much it doesn’t look like the actors.
THE VERDICT: FASCINATING, CAPTAIN…
I have to say it, I’m pleasantly surprised by this issue. The first four sold out quickly at Gatekeeper Hobbies (Huntoon & Gage, Topeka, ask me about our Gold Key Trek back-issues!), so I didn’t get to see whether they work, but I’m happy here. The changes to Jim Kirk’s background are identified early in the issue, serving the double purpose of clearly explaining what’s going on for those who don’t know AND identifying the points of divergence for those of us who know Episode 29 backwards and forward. It’s hard to review this issue without making it an overview of how well the re-imagined (my friend Dusty, a massive Trek fan, says I can’t call it a reboot) Star Trek franchise works, but all in all? It’s a good book. Star Trek #5 manages to balance the difficult task of retelling a forty-year old story in a new context with characters who may or may not be the same as they were in 1967, earning a well-crafted 4 out of 5 stars overall.
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Can a retelling ever escape the shadow of the original tale?