Out of the Dark, Into the Heat
It looks like there is not a regular review of the ongoing Star Trek comic book, so I will take a shot at covering it for a while. Hopefully, next month I’ll get it closer to the issue date.
If you are frustrated or distracted by the differences between characters in the comics vs. the corresponding cinematic universe, then IDW’s handling of Star Trek is your antidote. Star Trek: Into Darkness screenwriter Roberto Orci is a plot consultant for the comics and the integration between the film and comics is impressive. The four-issue Countdown to Darkness limited series introduced the John Harrison character who is crucial to the film. It also painted one of the film’s nicest Easter Eggs. When the film referred to using Mudd’s captured transport ship, screen Trek fans thought it was a shout out to Harry Mudd from the Original Series. Comic readers knew it was the new female Mudd’s ship, which we saw captured by the Enterprise recently in Countdown.
Star Trek 21 is entitled “After Darkness” to cue comic reading Trekkers to jump on if they enjoyed the film. The tight integration continues in more than the title. Immediately we learn that the Robert April/Klingons plot from Countdown is directly related to the rogue Admiral Marcus plot of the film. Carole Marcus joins the comic team after debuting in the film and the theme of Spock’s emotional turmoil picks right up too.
Spock’s turmoil goes in a new but familiar direction. We’ve been through Pon Farr with him twice on screen, but this take is fresh due to the new context. This time, he has a girlfriend when we learn he also has a betrothed on New Vulcan. It’s one of the best “Say what?” character moments I’ve seen in a long time. The emotional consequences of that and the plot consequences of the mysterious emergence of Section 31 have me very interested to see the next issue.
Artwise, Erfan Fajar has some very nice space and planetscape panels. But the challenge with inheriting licensed characters from the screen is that readers have such exact ideas of what those characters look like. Periodically through the book, some characters resolve into more generic comic book faces, particularly Kirk and Chekov. At other times, the likenesses are captured very well. This fade in and out of seeming like “the real Star Fleet officers we know and love” is distracting in places, but never enough to take a reader totally out of the plot, which Mike Johnsonpaces quickly enough to pull you back in.
I had read Countdown to Darkness on a whim, because I was anxious for the film and took a quick fix while I waited. I jumped onto the on-going title here more purposely, hoping they would carry some of the film momentum and vibe forward on a monthly basis. Mission accomplished in this issue. I’m hoping they can make it a successful multi-year mission going forward.