After a lackluster post-TMP ride through the 23rd century courtesy of Marvel and a similarly disappointing adaptation of TWOK via IDW, I probably shouldn’t have much hope for any Star Trek comic. But the reputation of this first DC series has always been a good one, and I’ve even heard things along the line of “DC does Trek like Marvel does Star Wars”, which is high praise and might be hard to live up to.
Thankfully, these first few issues get things going right away and put to rest any doubts that I would have had as far as the quality of the series is concerned. With Mike W. Barr on board as writer now given the freedom to do what he wants creatively instead of being confined to just what was established in TMP, we see what one of the top-tier writers in comics can do with this property.
Reeling from the death of Spock (the movie adaptation of TSFS comes after issue #8), the Enterprise crew is put to work on its latest mission to explore, seek, and does so investigating a wormhole and the presence of hostile Klingons, something that is alarming because there had been negotiations of peace between the Federation and the Klingons in recent years. But the military heads of each are working against that, having been under the thrall of a mysterious entity, and Kirk and company–which includes a Klingon officer who is a defector–have to stop it because the Klingons and Federation have gone straight to war.
While the third movie had Klingon adversaries fighting on screen with the Enterprise crew and that would have long-standing effects on the Trek universe (all the way through the sixth movie), and I don’t know if Barr had an idea of what was being planned for those films, this was a great way to open a series. Just like Roddenberry and Robert Wise put Klingons on screen at the beginning of The Motion Picture, Barr obviously felt that such a familiar adversary would be great for an opening story arc. It works, too, as he gives us an original adventure and is allowed to do more than just a one-and-done storyline that also sets up a continuity for this series. We are introduced to a few original characters who I believe will become supporting cast/crew members throughout the series, and there are already tensions between them due to the politics of the story.
Those politics, by the way, do not intrude upon the action. Star Wars’ prequel movies are famously snarked on for their focus on trade routes and other political “in the weeds” talk, but the bickering between galactic heads of state in the Trek universe doesn’t feel as clunky. Knowing that there’s a lot going on that Kirk has to work within (peace negotiations, a looming war) heightens the drama of this mission to a hidden Kllingon base in a wormhole and then an eventual team-up with said Klingons to defeat the ultimate big bad.
The artwork is pretty solid, with a few gorgeous George Perez covers and interiors by Tom Sutton that get across the crew’s likenesses fairly well (at least he gives Shatner the right hair unlike most of Marvel’s issues), and I enjoyed how the action was conveyed in a way that was engaging and dynamic.
It’s hard to give these books my usual rating because I am not holding on to the physical copies except to sell them when I’m done reading through what I own–the DVD of digital comics will keep them in my collection. But I will say that you should check these out and I hope the rest of the series is this good.