Nothing says “I hate Star Trek fans” like handing over a comics book franchise to new Trek scribe Roberto Orci in any way, shape, or form. In case you’re unaware, Orci is one of the many writers attached to the scripts in the JJ Abrams’ version of STAR TREK (the rebooted movies STAR TREK and STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS which should’ve been called STAR TREK INTO DUMBNESS); and, when asked, he’s almost rabid in his hatred for the franchise’s longest, smartest, most loyal and most vocal fans. In one press account (that Orci himself has denied), he’s called them “shallow,” and in another his buddy JJ Abrams (which hasn’t been denied) has dismissed any and all relevance to classic Star Trek as being “too philosophical.” That’s probably why JJ, Orci, and others have worked very hard at transforming Trek into something more akin to STAR WARS, an action that has brought out “The Wrath of Fans.”
Hence, the controversy grows and/or the plot thickens.
IDW Publishing has succumbed to the JJ Universe, however, by tapping Orci to serve as “creative consultant” to the rebooted comic book franchise, which they presently own rights to through Paramount. If this first volume is any indication, methinks they’re not going to be winning back those fans of the original series, as Orci and scribe Mike Johnson have turned their attention to apparently now rebooting those classic adventures to fit within this new continuity.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type 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 …)
For those of you raised on an island, STAR TREK (TOS) – that’s “The Original Series” – was a program created by Gene Roddenberry that launched in 1966, and, in time, it spawned a generation of followers that couldn’t help but demand more – more TV shows, more movies, more books, and (yes) even more comic books. The crew of the Starship Enterprise have been immortalized in any possible storytelling venue available, and, while I may not be a huge fan of the JJ Abrams reboot, I have nothing but profound respect for anyone willing to see Trek carried on for a whole new generation of fans.
With a reboot, JJ and his friends have allowed storytellers to imagine that world of Kirk and his crew again, albeit with younger faces. That’s the central appeal to this new graphic series spearheaded by IDW Publishing with Mike Johnson at the ‘conn.’ Instead of representing the original players (Shatner, Nimoy, etc.), readers are now seeing the new actors and actresses (Pine, Quinto, Saldana, etc.). But, to my dismay, rather than launch these faces into a whole new series of adventures, they’ve unfortunately taken the safe way out: they’re re-doing episodes of a TV show nearly 50 years old and giving them fresh twists – basically new endings – and leaving fertile ground far, far behind.
This first volume collects the first four issues with the new crew, and it brings to life rehashed versions of two classic STAR TREK episodes: “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and “The Galileo Seven.” If you’re familiar with either, then there really is little new ground to be trod here – Kirk’s lifelong pal Gary Mitchell gains God-like powers from an alien encounter in the first, while Spock and the crew of a shuttlecraft face certain doom while stranding on a planet not exactly uninhabited. The twists orchestrated by Johnson (no doubt with some glee by Orci) end up really bringing little sparkle to the franchise; the artwork is far too crisp, clean, and movie centric for my tastes, adding only another layer of blandness to all of it.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m a lifelong Trek enthusiast. Whether I enjoyed this collection or not, I was probably still destined to own and read it because of my affiliation to the franchise. I just wish that they had done something different with it instead of returning to those voyages from long ago and re-shape them in a new wrapper. I’ve no idea if this will be the course of the entire comics run; all I can say is that I hope it isn’t, as there is a finite number of episodes from which to rely on for material. At some point, I hope to see Pine’s Kirk, Quinto’s Spock, and Saldana’s Uhura going boldly where their original masters haven’t been before … so I’ll continue to hold out hope that “the human adventure is only just beginning.”
STAR TREK – VOLUME 1 collects the comics originally issued in monthly installments as Star Trek #1 - #4. The series is published by IDW Publishing. The stories are written by Mike Johnson; with art by Stephen Molnar and Joe Phillips; and colors by John Rauch; with letters by Neil Uyetake; and the aforementioned Roberto Orci serving at ‘creative consultant.’ Unlike other trade paperbacks, this one comes with no new introduction or post-script materials, but there is a collection of alternate covers and/or artwork in the rear of the book. It all comes with a cover price of $17.99 … a bit steep unless you’re paying in quatloos!
(MILDLY) RECOMMENDED. While these stories are probably fine for a once-over, they have very, very little re-read quality (never a good thing, especially for a monthly serial); but they do possess a mildly interesting premise – let’s re-do the original! – that probably works well with modern fans. I suspect that long-time Trek fans might take issue with seeing some of their personal favorite hours of canon now being tweaked to accommodate the modern-day hang-ups and hook-ups of the JJ Universe. Whatever may be the case, you have to give kudos for boldly trying something, even if it feels a bit cheap in the final estimation.
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