Written by: Mike Johnson / pencilled by: David Messina & Claudia Balboni
What’s this issue about?
Standing trial for his acts against Starfleet, the genetically enhanced Khan Noonien Singh reveals the truth about his origins…
With Star Trek: Khan #1, IDW Publishing has launched another tie in to director/producer J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness. I’ve felt that IDW’s Into Darkness related titles have been a bit of a mixed bag, I was a little disappointed with the Countdown to Darkness mini-series (whereas the previous Star Trek: Countdown is essential reading that adds considerably to the enjoyment of the 2009 film) and similarly underwhelmed by the three issue “After Darkness” arc from the ongoing Star Trek title. The lead in issues of that monthly series did however produce some interesting character pieces, particularly the rather excellent flashback to McCoy’s earlier years told in issue 17 and the current post-Into Darkness storyline certainly has potential.
With so little of Khan’s back story dealt with in Star Trek Into Darkness I’ve eagerly awaited this series which should hopefully enrich and enhance the film by fleshing those details out.
Much like the Star Trek: Nero mini-series added layers and complexity to the villain of Star Trek, the premiere issue of Khan provides a platform to do the same with the antagonist of Into Darkness and so far, it succeeds. IDW’s veteran Star Trek writer, Mike Johnson (with guidance from Trek screenwriter Roberto Orci) serves up another strong tale with some great dialogue (including Khan’s sharp and icy rejection of the court’s authority) that is faithful to the voices of the characters we’ve seen on screen and I was pleased to see the inclusion of Lead Prosecutor Cogley (who defended William Shatner’s Kirk in the classic original Star Trek episode “Court Martial”).
In terms of visual quality, David Messina’s pencils and inks in the opening trial scenes have never looked better with strong character likenesses and each panel feeling like it could be a scene framed and shot for film. Claudia Balboni provides the art for the majority of the book as we flashback to Earth in the 1970s and the story of Khan’s past unfolds as the science of eugenics is born. I’ve said before that I’ve been a fan of Blaboni’s previous work on IDW’s monthly Star Trek title and her style complements Messina’s perfectly, not so different that it’s jarring yet subtle enough to ease the reader into another time and place within the story.
It’s interesting to see a departure from Greg Cox’s Eugenics Wars novels in that the young Khan is a cripple and a guinea pig ‘enhanced’ through genetic manipulation (oh and for those troubled about the stark contrast in appearance between Ricardo Montalban and Benedict Cumberbatch, the seeds are cleverly sown for an explanation). Like all good Star Trek stories this provides the ‘viewer’ with a cautionary and topical tale of man seeking to interfere with nature and the unforeseen repercussions that arise from those efforts. As Spock put it in “Space Seed”: “superior ability breeds superior ambition”.
The bottom line: It’s hard to judge Khan completely at this point until all six issues have been published and the full story has been told, but it’s all off to a good start of what could prove to be an essential companion piece to Star Trek Into Darkness.
Star Trek: Khan #1 is out now in print and digital formats from IDW Publishing.