Star Trek #1

Written by Mike Johnson
Based on a teleplay by Samuel A. Peeples
Art by Stephen Molnar
32 pages, color
Published by IDW Publishing

Of all the various Star Trek comic book ideas, I think IDW’s new Star Trek series has one of my favorites to date. For those unfamiliar with the most recent Star Trek film, it tells the story of Kirk and company’s first adventure together. As part of it, there’s time travel involved, and the timeline ends up getting altered. And so, with this new status quo in effect… this Star Trek comic is now showing us stories from the original Star Trek television series, but with this new cast of actors and relationships firmly in place. In other words, it’s Star Trek: The Original Series: The Really Special Edition. Brilliant.

This first issue of Star Trek begins its adaptation of "Where No Man Has Gone Before," and it’s at this point that I should admit that I’ve only seen a handful of original Star Trek episodes. (I know, this is a gap in geek knowledge I really should fix.) Based on what I do know about the episode, though, it feels fairly faithful to me, and it’s entertaining. (And after all, isn’t part of the idea of this series to appeal to those who haven’t seen the original episodes?) Even I was able to catch some little tweaks that Mike Johnson’s script added (the presence of Chekhov, who didn’t join the original series until the second season, Spock’s relationship with Uhura carrying over into the comic, or Kirk’s racing through the Academy process because of the recent film), but none of them felt intrusive or out of the ordinary.

It also feels to me like Johnson’s able to use this altered timeline to his advantage; guest characters from the episode are given importance by having it pointed out that they aren’t already main people on the bridge only because they weren’t on that initial adventure, for example, but they’re now being added into the mix. It makes you feel like they’re more than just random guest stars of the week, but in fact a real part of the running of the Enterprise. And while Johnson is lucky to have a strong episode script to adapt from, it is worth noting that Star Trek #1 flows quite smoothly in the shift from television to comic book; so many adaptations to comic come across as jerky or threadbare, and this is neither.

Stephen Molnar is in charge of the art for Star Trek, and I’m impressed in that he’s able to both nail all of the actor likenesses (by all accounts an extremely thankless task on a licensed comic) and also keep the art feeling lively. Looking at the characters, I can see the likenesses of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and company all shine through; people who have only seen the Star Trek movie won’t be lost at all by the shift to a comic. Molnar is also able to liven up some of the visuals; having non-human aliens running around on the ship is a nice touch, and a way to both update the comic while still staying true to the original source material ideas. That said, if there’s one thing Molnar does probably need to work on, it’s exploding Enterprise consoles. Even I know it’s a pretty familiar sight from the show, and when we get three explosions in rapid succession, it’s already feeling like a slightly stale and unenthusiastic illustration. Better get used to drawing those, Molar.

Star Trek #1 kicks off a clever twist on the licensed comic. It’s aimed firmly at the new readers, but simultaneously has appeal to some older fans to see how everything lines up in the new continuity. And of course, with Johnson working off of existing scripts, it certainly makes life easier in terms of the writing process. I was entertained by this issue, and while I still do mean on watching those original episodes one of these days, this feels like a fun way to catch up bit by bit in a different manner.

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