Crossovers are not always an easy sell. What might look like a stroke of genius bringing two separate worlds together on the face of it could just as easily backfire, leaving a blemish (or a stink) on both universes. Thankfully, most writers who undertake such a complex task know more than a little bit about both sides of the intended crossover, and this greatly helps facilitate not only the reality of what such a story would, could, and should look like but also it helps suitably iron out the wrinkles of how to get all characters back to where they belong. However, when readers are unfamiliar with both universes (or franchises) presented, the end product really needs to be the best of both worlds … and I’m not entirely certain that’s what IDW delivered with this volume, STAR TREK/LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (2012).
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of character and plot. 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 paragraph for my final assessment. If, however, you’re entirely accepting of a few hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise are no strangers to time travel or inter-dimensional travel. Nor are any of the champions serving the Legion of Super-Heroes. When a freak transporter accident AND the collapse of a bubble-craft traveling through space-time coincide at just the right (or wrong!) moment, both teams find themselves stranded on a parallel Earth, one where the Federation exists but its primary mission is to conquer strange, new worlds! Only by seeking out and finding one another can they hope to survive the resulting chaos of their displacement into a completely new universe, and only by cooperating can they hope to separate this new timeline back into separate entities so that they can return home!
As I said above, crossovers had problems already built in to them that writers have to be extremely conscious of, and, unfortunately, STAR TREK/LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES’ scribe Chris Roberson bit off much, much more than any single man should ever attempt to chew. Why do I say that? Well, on the face of it, I’m not entirely sure such a crossover was even a good idea to begin with. The world of Jim Kirk and his crew of explorers represents one possible tomorrow for the people of planet Earth; this is not to say it’s a ‘reality,’ per se, but it has all the makings and variables that several significant elements of it are likely. Of course, it’s fiction (don’t send the men in white coats to my front door just yet, mother dear), but there’s a wealth of science in there – space exploration, the possibility of finding intelligent life, not to mention phasers and tricorders and transporters, oh my – that, while speculative, isn’t beyond the grasp of what’s possible if not probable. However, with the Legion of Super-Heroes … it’s just super-heroes, and, since they’re wholly licensed to the world of the fictional, then why bother?
It isn’t that TREK/LEGION doesn’t have some strong writing because, to be fair, it does. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov come alive – at least as much as they have in any other comic book incarnation. I’m not schooled with the Legion’s crew, but, so far as I can tell, they certainly appear to be legitimate creations. The circumstances that propel these two teams into the same newly-minted universe isn’t all that new or novel, especially considering it’s a variation on themes already explored several times in the TREK world alone … but that’s a minor quibble when considering the entire story at play. As far as the villain goes, you get a solid two-fer (one from the Legion’s background, and a surprising counterpart from a different version of STAR TREK); however, I will say that so very much of the story felt like a retread of other tales already explored.
Granted, this wasn’t what I expected. Still, I hadn’t expected the crossover in the first place … so there’s something to be said for making an honest attempt at a truly unanticipated pairing.
STAR TREK/LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES is published by IDW Publishing. The story is by Chris Roberson; and the artwork is by Jeffrey Moy. The volume bears a cover price of $24.99, and, so far as this reader is concerned, that’s more latinum than these 152 pages are worth.
MODESTLY RECOMMENDED. If you’re a tried and true STAR TREK fan like I am, then you’ll probably enjoy this one enough to make it worth a single read, but there isn’t enough substance (or greatness) to encourage me to ever pick it up again. The Trek characterizations are pretty solid (sorry, but as I’m no fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes, I couldn’t speak to the validity of theirs), and there’re enough guilty pleasure cameo-style appearances to keep in interesting. Personally, I didn’t see that much value in the crossover of these two properties; the way Chris Roberson highlighted so many parallels between the primary six characters used from each franchise, it just didn’t seem all that necessary come the conclusion.
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