Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Star Trek #7 (IDW)

My friend Jonathon Riddle has told me several times of a former roommate of his, a huge Star Trek fan, who objected to the very premise of the last Trek TV series, Enterprise, which chronicled the early days of Starfleet, because to him Star Trek was supposed to be about moving forward, not looking back.  (Never mind that the series was still set 150 years in the future.)  I'm sure this fellow would also have turned up his nose upon hearing the premise of IDW's monthly Trek comic, which adapts episodes of the original series into the alternate timeline continuity of the new movie.
To tell the truth, I thought the idea was kind of pointless myself.  After all, the movie gave us an entirely new Trek universe.   Why not explore it instead of wasting time on what would inevitably be greatly inferior retellings of forty-five year old stories?
The first issue pretty much proved my doubts correct.  I only bought it because the episode it adapted, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", just happened to be airing on MeTV the same week as the book's release, and I wanted to compare the adaptation to the original.  Needless to say, I found it somewhat lacking. The necessary compression of the plot for space, and the substitution of the likenesses of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and company for William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and the old crew, combined with some odd, seemingly arbitrary changes, such as the exclusion of Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, a major character in the old episode, made the comic seem even more of a pale imitation of the original than most comics adaptations usually do.  Also, it was kind of weird to see Gary Mitchell drawn as Gary Lockwood, the actor who played the character on TV, and standing alongside the movie crew.
With the series' seventh issue, writer Mike Johnson gets to try his hand at an original Trek story, and acquits himself quite well.  "Vulcan's Vengeance" is a direct sequel to the events of the film and has the Enterprise preparing to enter the Neutral Zone in pursuit of a Vulcan ship stolen by what appear to be the last survivors of Nero's crew who have stolen the only remaining sample of red matter, the substance that destroyed the planet Vulcan. 
What I really like about this issue is that it feels much more like a classic Trek adventure than the movie or even the first issue did.  Though they are drawn as Pine and Quinto, the Kirk and Spock of this story talk and act more like the Kirk and Spock I know from the TV series and earlier movies than their counterparts from the new movie.  The only problem I have with the story is that Johnson gets Chekov's accent wrong. 
Unfortunately, "Vulcan's Vengeance" does not herald a new direction for IDW's Trek.  After this tale wraps up next issue, it's back to strip mining the past with an adaptation of "Return of the Archons."  That's too bad, because based on this issue, I'd like to see more original Trek sagas written by Johnson.

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