If there’s a movie that’s at the bottom of my rankings for the original crew films, it’s definitely Star Trek V. Directed by William Shatner and coming a few years after the mega success of The Voyage Home, it’s a mess of a picture that leans a little too much into its jokeiness and doesn’t give us enough of a story, which is unfortunate because if you ever read the novelization by J.M. Dillard, you’d think that this is one of the better movies in the series. As I and others have said, if they made a movie out of that instead of what we got, then I wouldn’t have such a poor opinion of it.
At the time DC put out this special in 1989, there hadn’t been a Star Trek comic for the better part of a year since the original DC series that started in the wake of The Wrath of Khan ended abruptly. The next series would come soon after this, with a “new format” series (back in the day, we would have called it a “Baxter” book) premiering that August. That meant that there would be Trek on the shelves, even if the new format meant that it would only be in comic book stores. I guess that could be good or bad depending on where you were living at the time, even though by 1989 comics and collectibles shops were starting to be everywhere. This movie special was a newsstand book using regular paper and had a “DC Movie Special” banner across the top of the cover, much like the Alien Nation special I read a while back.
But whereas the Alien Nation comics adaptation was intriguing both as an adaptation and as a comic, Peter David’s efforts here don’t do much to improve upon Star Trek V. We have the same story about Sybok basically being a cult leader that unlike so many other cult leaders actually has a starship to take everyone where they’re going to go. But it winds up being all sorts of false when they get there. Dillard’s novel had given us some details, background, and other context that made the story intriguing and fleshed out some of the characters who had been created just for the film. She also did a great job of relating the politics of the Federation, both internal and external. The Enterprise-A in that novel, while still being manned by the crew that we’d come to love, also seemed like a weird consolation prize, as if the Federation recognized that Kirk was never going to allow himself to grow old or sit quietly in retirement, so they cobbled it together and essentially put him out to pasture. The planet of galactic peace that is the setting of the film’s opening act is one of those symbolic goodwill gestures that gets great PR at the time it is established but sits more or less neglected until it’s quietly shuttered years later. While I didn’t expect him to add scenes to what was already an annual-sized comic, some narration boxes of context would have been nice.
It’s not a terrible comic or anything like that. David’s a writer whose work I admire (although save for one issue I’ve admittedly never read his Hulk run) and James Fry and Arne Starr do a good job of getting the action across. Plus, they all earn bonus points for adding the rock monster that had originally been part of the climax but was cut due to budget constraints. But I would only really seek this one out if you’re looking to do a complete read-through of DC’s Star Trek comics (like I have).
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?
Donate (my copy is in terrible condition, so it’s not sellable)