Minor history lesson, folks: STAR TREK technically began in 1966. I say “technically” because those of us who’ve read extensively on it know that its characters and concepts began much earlier in the mind of the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, Gene Roddenberry. Throughout the decades since, Trek has only grown deeper and deeper a part of our modern mythology. No matter what kind of tale it’s told – action, romance, mystery – Trek has always won accolades for sticking true to one central conceit: the morality play.
Thankfully, the men and women hard at work in crafting even these graphic adventures on behalf of IDW Publishing have stayed that course – they’ve continued incorporating lessons learned by the characters they put their paces – and your basic Trekkie, Trekker, or general Trek enthusiast (my personally-coined term) benefit from their modest wisdom.
That said, let’s boldly go where no one has gone before.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
When we last saw Kronos (theatrically, at least), it wasn’t in good shape. A handful of its warriors had taken a beating at the hands of a Starfleet terrorist (Khan); and apparently things have only grown worse. In THE KHITOMER CONFLICT, the forces of Starfleet, Romulus, and even shadowy agents of Section 31 all show up to trade not only insults as the threat of the galaxy’s most devastating weapon known to man – Red Matter – threatens to deal the Klingons a deadly blow. As anyone can guess, only the good guys of Kirk, Spock, and his faithful crew stand in the way, and they won’t let anyone start a galaxy-spanning war if they can help it!
For the uninitiated, this is the fourth part of an ongoing storyline called THE KHITOMER CONFLICT. Given that fact, this may not serve as the best ‘jumping on’ point for new readers, though I’ll admit that, after reading the recap provided on the inside page, I didn’t feel all that much at a loss. Of course, that could be good or bad, depending upon your perspective; for my tastes, it worked just fine. I’m a long-time Trek enthusiast who’s been here since the original series’ run, and I do prefer my stories just like this one reads: with a decided air of familiarity on all counts.
Think what you may about the cinematic reboot, but that’s one thing the present creative crew has done effectively: they’ve tried to tap into elements of the established mythology and present what could be seen as brave new interpretations on the tried-and-true. STAR TREK (2009) had the original Spock that echoed back to the original, while STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013) brought Khan out of cryo-sleep to match wits with Kirk and company, even promising with a coda that they were now starting their own five-year mission. Likewise, this tale taps ‘Section 31,’ ‘Khitomer,’ and a few lesser subjects, drafting them into an effective look at what may’ve gone done after the credits came up in the conclusion of INTO DARKNESS. Again, think what you may about the reboot, but that’s still a smart move for fans of old and new.
Johnson’s story is, mostly, fresh, and it draws many parallels to our modern times – something that Trek has done effectively as long as it’s been around. He suggests parallels to terrorism, even supplanting one argument by drawing in the Cold War; and it all works as well as it has in any other Trek adventure. There’s even the old standby of all of this involving a family member of the Enterprise’s crew, giving this modern incarnation a welcome nod back to the old Spock/Sarek relationship: you can never choose your family, and you’ll always feel responsible for them in some way. (This time around, it involves Sulu and his sister, so it’s nice to see the famed navigator getting some much needed depth.)
STAR TREK #28: THE KHITOMER CONFLICT (Part 4 of 4) is published by IDW Publishing, and STAR TREK is the creation of Gene Roddenberry. The story is by Mike Johnson, with STAR TREK movie scribe Roberto Orci serving as “story consultant”; the art is provided by Erfan Fajar; the colors are by Beny Maulana of Stellar Labs; and the lettering is by Gilberto Lazcano. The book comes with the cover price of $3.99 … and that’s payable in cold, hard latinum, not those pesko undervalued quatloos. (Live long and prosper, indeed!)
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. As long as there’s an Enterprise, then there’s a cause for celebration. These comics follow in the vein established by the most recent motion pictures, but the writers have cleverly incorporated classical elements (from canon, for those of you who understand the word as it applies to the franchise) that should feel comfortable to fans of the original as well as newcomers to the franchise. There’s no better time than the present to sign aboard the most recognized starship in history.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at IDW Publishing provided me with a digital copy of STAR TREK #28 (Ongoing) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.