Or – “They’re Apparently Well Into The Darkness Now…  Where’s The Horta?”

So, apparently there has been a Star Trek movie recently, the events of which are now going to be felt in the ongoing comic book series.  Given the momentous events of Star Trek Into Darkness, one might expect that the world of Kirk and Spock is a very different place…  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

SUMMARY

Pros
Likenesses are good.
Some familiar bits and pieces.
Cons

Feels less like New Trek than Old.
Perhaps TOO many familiar bits and pieces.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

READER RATING!

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 3.40 out of 5)
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StarTrek21CoverSTAR TREK #21
Writer: Mike Johnson
Artist: Erfan Fajar
Letterer: Chris Mowry
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Star Trek: Full disclosure:  I haven’t seen Star Trek Into Darkness yet, but am familiar with the spoilers therein, thanks to Stephen and Young Zach.  In any case, there’s Kirk, Spock and McCoy, with a shipful of guys in yellow, red and blue, and we’ll probably be able to figure it out as we go…


A NEW FIVE-YEAR MISSION…

We open this issue on Qo’nos, the Klingon homeworld, as the new breed of Klingons contemplate their enemy, one James T. Kirk.  For his part, the good Captain is dealing with a seeming traitor, a man who apparently tried to take over his ship in the “Countdown To Darkness” miniseries, which I also haven’t read.  From an art perspective, things are very good this issue.  With the exception of Chris Pine’s Cap’n Kirk, all the likenesses are excellent, and even Kirk is at least consistent, even though he doesn’t much resemble his real-life actor.  There a little bit of cleanup to be done here, but the creative team handles it effectively, referring to “John Harrison” and the events of the movie without spoiling them openly, and Kirk pointedly explains that he’s got “better things to do.”  Cut to the Enterprise in space, with the classic narration in full effect, only to get interrupted at the end by Doctor McCoy.  “Did  you write that?” asks the surly doctor of his captain, putting a new spin on things.  On the one hand, I like that they’re willing to tweak the nose of the source material, but the “Where No Man Has Gone Before” monologue is pretty epic, and part of me finds it a little bit disrespectful for the comic to make fun of it.  Mileage will probably vary on that one, as the world is a very meta and ironic place.

SOMETHING’S RUN AMOK…  TIME.

The second half of the issue deals with Spock’s strange emotional and physical state, as the Vulcan experiences unexplained rages and mood swings, a plot point that anyone who knows the old Star Trek will probably recognize.  Of course, the original solution (for those who don’t recognize the Pon Farr, the cure started with a return to Vulcan and ended with Kirk dead) won’t be an option any more, and our crew sets off for the colony of New Vulcan.  There are a LOT of references to classic Trek here, from Spock’s lyre to the appearance of Papa Sarek, and most of them work pretty well for me.  The overall effect of the issue is strange, though, feeling a little like a retread, telling us stories that we’ve already seen the end of in 1967.  As the issue ends, we get a little advanced-level Trek history, as an operative of Section 31 makes an appearance with a clear nefarious intent.

THE BOTTOM LINE: KIND OF A MIXED BAG.

I’m kind of torn on this issue.  On the one hand, I appreciate the level of detail and history that has gone into the world-building, and the way that this book clearly ties into the new Star Trek universe.  On the other, I have to take issue with the series if it is only retelling the stories of the Original Series with more lensflare and snark, as part of the charm of the new version of Trek is it’s willingness to vary from the traditional history of Kirk’s Enterprise.  In short, Star Trek #21 isn’t quite all of a piece, with some lovely art, and nice storytelling techniques, but what feels a little bit like a lack of originality in the story they’ve chosen to deliver, earning an above-average but somewhat befuddled 3 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s hard to balance reverence for the material with a whole new attitude, and while there’s a lot to like here, it doesn’t quite gel perfectly in these pages…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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3 Comments

  1. Oldcomicfan
    June 4, 2013 at 3:56 am — Reply

    Admittedly, I haven’t read this yet. I have a tendency to avoid licensed comic properties like the plague, because they either fall into one of two categories: either they are slavishly wedded to the source material – only without benefit of sound and motion – and thus are severely lacking compared to the same; or they swing so widely away from the source material (such as giant Jedi bunnies or robots staring into monoliths) that they barely have any resemblance to the original and are thus only attempting to trade on the name. If you want a really good, and original, sci-fi comic experience, I would recommend that you read any of the incarnations of “Starstruck” instead of any of licensed sci-fi television or movie tie ins. It’s a very deep and rich story, and it has Kaluta art, what more could one ask for?

  2. Steve Smetzer
    June 4, 2013 at 7:23 am — Reply

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong but I believe this may be the first time a comic book series directly acknowledged events from a movie within a couple of weeks of the movie’s release. I applaud the level of planning this took to do.

    I have to agree with Matthew that most of the stories from the series have been new versions of TOS episodes. I believe this may not be a good strategy to keep readers for the “long haul”.

  3. Arcee
    June 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm — Reply

    In the movie Sulu – left in command of the Enterprise – makes a reference to an incident (Mudd) that happens in “Countdown” – in fact, the small ship used by Kirk in the movie is from the comic book.

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