Now, as anyone who has seen the original crew films knows, the Enterprise was destroyed in Star Trek III and the crew spent the next several months in exile on Vulcan, which is where we see them at the beginning of Star Trek IV. However, there are two years between those movies and in 1984, Mike W. Barr had the task of keeping the story going despite what they knew or did not know about The Voyage Home.
It’s actually quite a challenge, because DC had decided to create a comics series continuity with the movies, which I imagine was partially inspired by the success that Marvel had with the Star Wars title. That book was at its height between Empire and Jedi, and if that’s the bar that was set, well …
Anyway, we begin issue #9 with a bit of aftermath of the third movie, with Kirk and company facing consequences for their actions, with the crew of the U.S.S. Excelsior escorting them to what will inevitably be a disciplinary hearing. After a quick side-trip to Regula I where he tells Carol Marcus about David’s death, it seems as if we’re on course.
And then … we’re on board the Enterprise?
But it’s not the Enterprise. Okay, it is, but it’s not ours. It’s the ISS Enterprise from the classic episode “Mirror, Mirror”, and they have breached the dimensional barrier.
What follows is a six-part storyline–something that was kind of rare in 1984–called “New Frontiers” wherein Kirk takes command of Excelsior in order to stop his counterpart from launching an invasion from another dimension. It’s easily the best story I’ve ever read in a Star Trek comic so far, and would have actually made a great movie or multi-episode television arc. Mirror Universe Kirk, who was in the original episode but never faced off against his counterpart, is a villain on the order of Khan Noonien Singh, and the Mirror Universe crew includes its own Saavik, who is an intriguing version of the character we’ve seen–and considering her Romulan heritage, she is definitely more vicious.
Our crew heads into the Mirror Universe in order to do what they can to stop the invasion, and this involves a lot of double-crossing and deadly alliances, as they wind up having to work with that universe’s Klingons and Romulans. Meanwhile, Mirror Universe Spock goes to see his counterpart, who is still on Vulcan and finding that the mind swap from the end of the movie may not have done enough. But’s a mindmeld between the two that helps fully restore our favorite science officer, and they play a key role in what eventually becomes our climactic battle.
With Tom Sutton providing some really solid pencils, this is a suspenseful storyline that feels true to the characters and the series. Plus, Barr allows some time to show how the characters are all recovering from the events of the two movies, which have been incredibly traumatic. He’s also setting up how the crew is going to be having adventures throughout the galaxy between the two films–sure, they have the stolen Bird of Prey, but we can’t expect them to have adventures in that?
Well, the answer to that is the Excelsior, as Kirk is able to surreptitiously send a message about what was a very secret, very classified war between universes to a journalist on Starbase 13. She publishes a story about Kirk’s being a hero and suddenly, public opinion toward him completely changes and Starfleet has no choice but to keep him in command and give him that ship. Moreover, they give Spock command of the Surak, a science vessel. It’s a temporary status quo that is going to make for great adventures between the two movies.
These are comics that appear in dollar bins from time to time, and I had about half the storyline in hard copy with the rest coming digitally, and already in its first year, DC is knocking Trek out of the park.