Comic Review: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ #1

IDW launches its latest Star Trek title…

Spoiler-free review

ST Discovery #1

Main cover art by Tony Shasteen for IDW Publishing’s ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ #1 (image belongs: IDW)

Written by:  Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson / pencils and inks by:  Tony Shasteen / colours by:  J.D. Mettler

What’s it about?

“The Light of Kahless” : the Battle of the Binary Stars is over and T’Kuvma is dead…but what drove the Klingon warrior to pursue conflict and his desire to forge a new era of glory for his people?

In review

For those who have been enjoying Star Trek: Discovery and eagerly await its return from hiatus in January, IDW Publishing’s new ongoing tie in comic is an essential read and an ideal way to get your Discovery fix in the absence of any new episodes.

Written by Trek comics veteran Mike Johnson and Discovery writer/Star Trek novelist Kirsten Beyer, with art from Tony Shasteen (Star Trek: Boldly Go), Star Trek: Discovery #1 kicks off Klingon-centric story arc “The Light of Kahless”.  Doing what the very best Trek comics and novels have always done, IDW’s Discovery title fills in the gaps of what we’ve seen on screen, adding background and depth as well as fleshing out character, delivering a satisfying missing chapter to the story being explored by the television series.  Opening in the wake of the Battle at the Binary Stars (as depicted in the show’s opening two-parter), the comic takes us back into the past as we learn of the troubled upbringing of T’Kuvma – ill-fated warrior and ‘saviour’ of the Klingon Empire – on the Klingon homeworld of Qo’nos, his discovery of the ancient sarcophagus ship and the forging of his path to glory.

Johnson and Beyer’s script hits all the right notes, effortlessly capturing the tone and ‘voice’ of the television series whilst expanding and enriching the mythology of Klingon culture as it is in Discovery, providing a deeper exploration of the themes of religion, tradition and war touched upon in the show together with a more detailed understanding of T’Kuvma’s motivations in his quest to bring about a new age for the Klingon race.

Unsurprisingly, the art by Tony Shasteen is phenomenal with the expected high quality and strong, meticulous detail that’s a faithful representation of Discovery as well as expanding the universe by giving readers a look at the home of the Klingon Empire as yet unseen in the series.

Some readers may be disappointed by the absence of any Starfleet/Federation presence and the main characters of Star Trek: Discovery but there’ll surely be opportunities to tell those stories further in the title’s run.  Right now, this is the sort of arc needed to embellish the narrative of Star Trek: Discovery’s journey on the small screen.

The bottom line:  A perfect companion for fans of the television series, IDW’s Star Trek: Discovery comic delivers an engaging and visually appealing look into some of the show’s backstory.

Star Trek: Discovery #1 is published by IDW and is available in print and digital formats now.

Comic Review: ‘Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War’ #1

Written by:  Mike Johnson / pencilled by:  Angel Hernandez

What’s it about?

While investigating a rogue planet, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise discover the corpse of a mysterious alien being and several strange, colourful rings…

In review

Star Trek/Green Lantern is the latest of IDW Publishing’s Star Trek crossover events (with DC Comics), having previously delivered successful ‘team-ups’ with iconic comic book/science fiction properties Legion of Super Heroes, Doctor Who and Planet of the Apes.  Whereas those previous mini-series have featured the original and next generation Star Trek crews, Star Trek/Green Lantern opts to focus on the more contemporary cast of the rebooted Trek universe depicted in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness.

Written by Mike Johnson, the opening chapter of The Spectrum War gives readers a tantalising glimpse into a potentially exciting and epic comic book crossover as events are precipitated by Kirk and Spock’s discovery of the corpse of – unbeknownst to them – Ganthet, one of Oa’s Guradians.  Granted, this premiere issue provides a lot of setup and focuses heavily on the Trek universe but Johnson’s script incorporates enough intrigue, excitement and links to DC Comics’ Green Lantern that, although ultimately there are few surprises, fans of both franchises will find pleasing.

Johnson is no stranger to Star Trek having written many of IDW’s Trek comics and as always is true to the mythos of the franchise and faithfully captures the voices of its main characters.  Whilst it remains to be seen how well he handles those elements of the Green Lantern universe (and in turn, how seamlessly the crossover plays out) the fact that this premiere issue manages to successfully integrate power rings, Klingons and a finale appearance from heroic lantern Hal Jordan (I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how he and Kirk ‘get on’ and certainly how the Enterprise crew handle the ramifications of being selected by a power ring) so joyously gives no cause for concern at this stage.

Just as Johnson provides a solid script, Angel Hernandez delivers stunningly detailed art with decent character likenesses (and some striking images of the Enterprise) that, together with Alejandro Sanchez’s vibrant and sharp colours give the visuals a feature film quality that can often be lacking from such an ambitious project.

Overall, a crossover between Star Trek and Green Lantern is a suitable match with both properties having similar narrative and visual components with their eclectic mix of strange new worlds, weird and wonderful life forms and a positive outlook for a better tomorrow, even in the face of whatever dark and dangerous threats the universe has in store.

The bottom line:  IDW has delivered a strong start to their Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover, which thanks to a quality script and luscious artwork shows a lot of potential.

Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War #1 is published by IDW and is available in print and digital formats now.

Angel Hernandez provides the wonderful art in IDW Publishing's promising 'Star Trek/Green Lantern' crossover.

Angel Hernandez provides the wonderful art in IDW Publishing’s promising ‘Star Trek/Green Lantern’ crossover.

Comic book review: ‘Star Trek’ (ongoing) #25

This review contains SPOILERS

Written by:  Mike Johnson / pencilled by:  Erfan Fajar

What’s this issue about?

“The Khitomer Conflict” Part 1 of 4:  the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise prepare to embark on their five year mission of deep space exploration but soon find themselves facing a renewed threat from the Klingon Empire…

In review

IDW Publishing’s ongoing Star Trek series continues to chart new territory (and all the better for it) in the aftermath of Star Trek Into Darkness and this month’s 25th issue (unfortunately no expanded page count like those special “anniversary” editions once common in the medium) launches another original storyline which builds upon the title’s “After Darkness” three-parter from issues 21-23.

“The Khitomer Conflict” opens with a Romulan attack on the newly founded Klingon colony on the planet Khitomer (an incident from Star Trek canon that established fans will no doubt be fully aware of) before cutting to the Enterprise docked at a deep space station where the crew are making final preparations to head out into the unknown.  It’s here that we’re introduced to new crewmember Yuki…Sulu, much to the dismay of the Enterprise helmsman of the same surname.  It’s a fun little sequence (especially since Chekov is rather taken with Sulu’s younger sister) that provides some levity before the proverbial storm gathers.

Of course it isn’t long until Kirk and his crew find themselves embroiled in the Klingon’s quest for vengeance against the Romulan aggressors, a dishonourable act that is complicated by the fact that the nefarious Section 31 have provided the Romulans with the very weapons used to carry out their attack.  With the Enterprise responding to a Klingon ‘distress’ call there’s a steady build up to a tense cliffhanger with Kirk a prisoner of the Klingon Commander, Kor (who was played by John Colicos onscreen in the ‘prime’ Star Trek universe).

Long-serving writer Mike Johnson delivers another decent script, deftly balancing those lighter moments between the Enterprise ‘family’ (he certainly knows the universe and nails the character voices perfectly, you can quite clearly imagine Chris Pine or Zachary Quinto delivering the dialogue) with the darker more sinister elements of the story as well as both the space and planet bound action scenes.

For me, the weakest link really is Fajar’s art which I didn’t really take to during the “After Darkness” storyline.  Sure, the character likenesses are generally fine (the odd facial expression aside) and I did like the overall design of the Romulans (sporting Nero-like facial markings and uniforms not unlike those seen in Star Trek Nemesis) and the cover is good, but I’m really not a huge fan of the style (maybe it’s the colouring).  I’m certainly no expert but I’ve read enough comics to know what I like and what I’m not so fussed about and I much prefer Claudia Balboni’s art from last month’s standalone issue which was more reminiscent of the clean, sharp lines of Stephen Molnar’s detailed pencils (I hope he returns to the title someday).

At least the story holds up well and IDW’s Star Trek title has usually been at its best when telling original stories, the standalone character back stories featured in issues 17-20 where generally excellent (with McCoy’s story in #17 the highlight) and it’s good to see that now Star Trek Into Darkness has been and gone the series can continue to move beyond those patchy original Star Trek episode adaptations of earlier issues (although I’m not totally averse to the occasional one).

The bottom line:  The opening chapter of “The Khitomer Conflict” is a promising start to what could potentially be the best story arc IDW’s Star Trek has had to offer.  Although the artwork may not be to everyone’s liking the writing is top notch and faithful to the characters and lore of Star Trek.

Star Trek #25 is out now in print and digital formats from IDW Publishing.

Cover artwork for #25 of IDW Publishing's 'Star Trek' by Erfan Fajar.  A nice cover but  the interior artwork may not be to everyone's liking.

Cover artwork for #25 of IDW Publishing’s ‘Star Trek’ by Erfan Fajar. A nice cover but the interior artwork may not be to everyone’s liking.