Friday, May 17, 2013
On May 17, 2013 the feature-length film Star Trek: Into Darkness will premiere. In honor of the new film from Paramount Pictures, I'll be doing a list of my top ten favorite comic book stories featuring the crew of the original starship Enterprise! Also don't forget to check out the brand new Fanholes Podcast all about Star Trek!
10. Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor #1-4
They certainly don't make writer/artists in comic books like they used to. Not to single out anybody in particular, but the latest crop of so-called writer/artists don't hold a candle to John Byrne. I'm sure all the naysayers will put forth his crowning failures such as Doom Patrol or Spider-Man: Chapter One, but the man has a lot of great credits to his name as well. The Uncanny X-Men, Fantastic Four, Superman, She-Hulk, Next-Men and now we can safely add Star Trek to the Bryne collective.
Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor is a four-issue mini-series from IDW that focuses on the Enterprise's surly sawbones in a period set slightly before the events of Star Trek The Motion Picture. McCoy regails Admiral Kirk of his medical adventures on the frontier of Federation Space in the midst of the Enterprise's refitting....by handwritten letter in keeping with the good Doctor's character.
McCoy is joined by fellow doctor Jon Mikael Duncan and eventually the Andorian Theela of the House Trelahn. The trio travel across the space ways encountering all manner of medical disaster, but are lucky and bright enough to pull out the win in the end. Eventually a budding romance develops between Theela and Jon Mikael and the Doctor goes on to meet up with Star Trek mainstay characters such as Commander Scott, Gary Seven and Christine Chapel. It's a fun story that fans of the gruff and ornery Leonard "Bones" McCoy will definitely enjoy.
9. Star Trek/X-Men
This one shot is the best! It's such a outlandish idea for a crossover but I think it works out quite wonderfully. Also a Marvel Comic, the idea of mutants is tied into to the Star Trek universe with the return of the essence of Lt. Gary Mitchell from the 2nd original series pilot (TOS:Where No Man Has Gone Before). Mitchell was considered to have esper abilities going as far back as six generations. His essence merges with the X-villain Proteus to provide the two teams with a significant threat.
Most of the action takes place in the Delta Vega sector which contains a rift in space in which the Shiar Empire along with the X-Men enter the Trek Universe. All the little touches are great! Everything from Gladiator punching the Enterprise's shields....
....Spock owning Wolverine with the Vulcan Nerve pinch....
....Bones and Beast both responding to Dr.McCoy.......
.....and Kirk hitting on Jean only to have her turn him down as she's married to Scott.
The art by Marc Silvestri is a coup as he is a fan favorite X-Men artist, but manages to capture some wonderful likenesses along with a slick popular style. (I can imagine the same concept pitch gone horribly wrong with DS9/X-Force and Worf has Liefield thunder thighs, Sisko has lots of pouches, and the Borg villain's gun arm keeps switching from right to left hand depending on the panel."But he's da fan-favor-RIGHT!")
8. Star Trek Starfleet Academy #9-11
Okay, so the setting of this comic may really be bending the rules, but I think this series from Marvel Comics deserves a nod. This particular arc of the Marvel star trek comic features Omega Squad, a group of Starfleet cadets along the lines of Red Squad. Nog is a member, along with Matt Decker (a descendant of Commodore Matthew Decker from TOS: The Doomsday Machine and Will Decker from Star Trek:The Motion Picture),T'Priell (a Vulcan), Pava (an Andorian) and Edam Astrun (a Betazoid). The comic is set in the middle of the Dominion War with the Federation an Alpha Quadrant. When the Jem Hadar invade Talos IV the Talosians send a telepathic distress call to Ambassador Spock (who is still on Romulus after the events of TNG:Unification).
The distress call is picked up first by Astrun who is much closer to Talos IV then Spock. Omega Squad risks the Federation Death Penalty to stop the Dominion from gaining a significant territory in the Alpha Quadrant. The cadets team up with Captain Christopher Pike (from TOS: The Cage) against a Jem Hadar invasion.
The epilogue in issue #11 features Ambassador Spock returning from Romulus to defend the cadets from violating General Order 7. This is a pretty cool comic series mainly b/c I hardly ever get Alien 3 syndrome when reading these. Meaning I never yearn or wince when the live-action series finally contradicts the events of the comics. Mostly original characters with some cool guest stars and I enjoy the art by Chris Renaud. The characters like Pike or Spock are recognizable as Pike or Spock, but not likenesses. It evokes the more stylized art that comic readers may be used to. It actually reminds me a lot of a combo between Todd Nauck's style and Paul Pelletier's style. Keen eyed readers will also notice now famed writer Andy Lanning's inks over Renaud's pencils as well!
7. Star Trek v1 #20
So long as I've not been misinformed by the Transformers episode "The Burden Hardest To Bear" the Japanese word "Giri" is somewhat equivalent to that notion in terms of duty and honor. In this Star Trek tale by Wenonah Woods and Tom Sutton from DC Comics we are treated to a homecoming of sorts for one Hiraku Sulu, helmsmen of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
It turns out that Sulu is attending a wedding during his shore leave from the Enterprise. The wedding also serves as an end to the long feud between the Heike clan and the Hatoyama clan (whose relation falls on Sulu's mother's side). Unfortunately for Sulu, his former love Keiko is the bride to be in the upcoming nuptials.
If you enjoy Gundam or Samurai films, this would probably be a fun comic book to check out. You can't beat seeing Hiraku Sulu in a giant Mobile Suit fight with his rival Reijiro.
6. Star Trek: Mirror Mirror #1
This done-in-one story, just as the cover boldly indicates, is a direct sequel to the original series episode "Mirror, Mirror." This is written by Marvel Comics mainstay Tom DeFalco as well as penciled by my fellow Fanhole Brian's ( Breakdown's) favorite artist Mark Bagley.
There have been other attempts to chronicle events in the Mirror Universe in comic book form over at DC Comics. Certainly those stories have their fans, but not only do I enjoy the art in the Marvel version more - - this version isn't filled with dated political references that take you out of the story.
Ultimately anything set within the Mirror Universe should just be so damn fun. All the episodes of the various television series that deal with the Mirror Universe have been exciting and sexy. This one-shot continues those traditions with treachery and backstabbing at every turn. Not to mention a good bridge from the Mirror Universe of the original series to the Mirror Universe of Deep Space Nine.
5.Star Trek v1 DC #48
"The Stars in Secret Influence"
Since many of DC Comic's Star Trek series were set in between the popular feature film franchise, there might not have been as many opportunities to have any Earth shattering character developments or changes with the primary crew. However, much like a Justice League of America title can focus on 2nd and 3rd tier characters without the looming threat of an ongoing title (or feature film) to come out and contradict them, the Star Trek series from DC Comics had its own great cast of supporting characters. The Apache Ensign Bearclaw for one, or Ensign Nancy Bryce who is about to be engaged to this fellow here.
No your eyes aren't deceiving you! That's not Commander Worf the first Klingon in Starfleet, but Ensign Konom, a Klingon who actually served aboard James Kirk's Enterprise. Konom was a pariah in Klingon culture as he was more of a pacifist than a warrior. In what has now become somewhat of a trope of writer Peter David, Konom is stolen away to participate in an outlandish and possibly regrettable Bachelor party with everything from double-spiked punch (with Doctor McCoy's Romulan Ale as well as Scotty's Scotch) to Orion Slave Girls popping up out of the Bachelor cake. Starfire girls, eat your heart out!
The double-spiked punch is apparently enough to make Mr. Sulu turn furry in the arms of M'Ress. Reading poetry isn't the only thing they'll be doing once they head back to Sulu's quarters! "Oh my!"
If you've enjoyed David's other takes on Bachelor parties gone horribly awry in books like the Incredible Hulk, you'll probably get a kick out of this one. Mr. Arex sure did at any rate.
4. Star Trek - Debt of Honor
This graphic novel comes from the mind of the famed X-Men writer Chris Claremont. The present day part of the story takes place shortly after the events of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Kirk is on leave with the research
Gillian. As the story continues we are regaled with flashbacks from the point of view of Kirk, Spock and McCoy that become increasingly relevant to present day.
Claremont's writing teamed with the stylish pencils of Adam Hughes makes for a wonderful match in comic book story telling. He brings the sensuality and lovely look of an old flame of a young Lieutenant Commander Kirk named T'cel to life.
Hughes also does superior looking likenesses of the entire crew. Plus the wonderful expressions and banter between Spock and McCoy in a game of three-dimensional chess is simply priceless.
Eventually an alliance is forged between Romulan, Klingon and Federation officers to stop a threat that would endanger all three societies. There are plenty of references for fans of the original series as well as fans of the classic feature films.
3. Star Trek v1 #33
I've never made any secret of the fact that I adore crossovers. This comic from Len Wein and Tom Sutton that celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Star Trek features a meeting between the Enterprise crew from the era of the original television series and the crew from the 1986 DC Comic Book series. However, since those comic books were written in between the release of the feature films Star Trek III: The Search For Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, there was no U.S.S. Enterprise for the crew's adventures. This is because Admiral Kirk had destroyed the original ship in the climax of The Search For Spock. The DC Comics crew (who did not have a crystal ball) could not know what the plans for Star Trek IV would be and thus created their own. In the ongoing DC Comics of the time, Admiral Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew were actually out traversing the final frontier in the U.S.S. Excelsior.
Meanwhile, the original Enterprise is time traveling on its way back from the 1960's in a call-out to the original series episode titled "Tomorrow Is Yesterday". Although, in this version the U.S.S. Enterprise overshoots its mark and ends up face to face with Admiral Kirk and all their older selves aboard the Excelsior.
After cautions are set aside and the proper explanations are made, the two crews young and old work together to help send the original Enterprise back to the time where it belongs. Even though older Spock in the DC Comics of the time was off commanding the Science Vessel the U.S.S. Surak, he manages to make an appearance suggesting the use of the Guardian of Forever from the classic original series episode "The City On The Edge Of Forever."
2. Star Trek v2 #73-75
For whatever reason, I've always been fascinated by the untold stories of the Star Trek universe. I know I tried many a time to read the novel called, The Lost Years. I always seemed to get to a certain point in the book and then ended up forgetting everything I read and starting over. After a few tries and the book falling in the bathtub a few more times, I finally gave up. I do have it on good authority from the Fanholes resident book aficionado, Justin, that it wasn't just me and he too had a difficult time finishing said novel.
Regardless, my passion continued for the subject matter and finally found a decent outlet in this 3 part story from writer Howard Weinstein and artist Rachel Ketchum. Not only was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn one of my favorite Trek films, but it had a terrific script with some wonderfully layered back story. This was back story that was begging to be told. Or at least it was back story that I couldn't wait to read about. How did Kirk meet Carol Marcus? Why weren't they together? How did these two come to have a son together?
The first part also focuses on a young Kirk's trials with the Kobyoshi Maru as well as his friendship with Gary Mitchell who fans will know from the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" not to mention Star Trek/X-Men. Oh yeah!
The second part features a reunion between Marcus and Kirk. Marcus has gone on to become both a successful doctor as well as a single mother. Kirk obviously wasn't told about his son right away and wants to rectify the situation the only way he knows how.
Eventually the two agree that Kirk's place is as a Captain in Starfleet and once again part ways. The third part picks up at the end of the Enterprise's five-year mission and in its own way attempts to bridge the gap and explain why a man so destined to be a starship Captain would take on the position of a Starfleet Admiral. If you've ever wondered why Kirk decided to be an Admiral or how he came to have a son, this is a comic arc you should most definitely check out.
1. Star Trek v1 Annual #3
This tale comes to you courtesy of one Peter David and one of the great Superman artists Curt Swan. The annual focuses on the Chief Engineer of the Enterprise, Montgomery Scott. Unfortunately Scotty receives the bad news that his wife has recently passed away. Amidst all the adventure and space battles, this annual is a moving story that is a testament to the audience's love and affection for the characters of Star Trek.
A series of flashbacks details the life and times of Scotty's wife Glynnis Campbell and the trials and tribulations the two have gone through over the years. Possibly my own personal trials have a lot to do with my own sensitivity to the subject matter, but I find it's a well-crafted story that only a heartless Grinch could find a problem with.