GRAPHIC NOVEL and TRADE PAPERBACK (TPB) REVIEWS

by The Masked Bookwyrm

Star Trek Reviews - Page 3

For a complete list of all (non Trek) reviews, click here

Star Trek: Omnibus, vol. 1 2009 (SC TPB) 324 pages

cover Written and illustrated by various.

Reprinting: Star Trek #4-18 (originally published by Marvel Comics, 1980-1981)

Rating: N/R (out of 5)

Number of readings: a few times

Published by IDW Publishing

I haven't officially rated this because I haven't read the whole contents -- but I do have 9 of the 15 issues in my collection.

Marvel Comics' first go at Star Trek (they re-acquired the rights years later) was published long before the trend toward TPB collections, so had never been reprinted (save three issues in a pocket book sized format). But recently IDW has released the entire run of original issues in a single omnibus volume (skipping only the issues adapting the 1979 motion picture).

Collections present comics in a different way than they were intended -- sometimes to good effect.

Marvel's 1980-1981 series wasn't especially well regarded by fandom -- not that it was necessarily badly regarded. Just that it was seen as a slightly uninspired. Featuring mainly one issue stories, without ovrerlapping continuity, and with a variety of creators involved, one could imagine it failed to offer any overly compelling reasons to be anything more than an occasional buy. But presented in one volume, without the weight of a 30 day wait laid on the stories, and read as simply an anthology of "original" Trek adventures, no one issue having to justify the purchase by itself...these comics actually emerge as better-than-decent reads.

They came out after "Star Trek, The Motion Picture", so employ the silver-ish body suits, the wrist communicators...giving it a look that is authentically Trek, yet novel compared to other Trek comics. And the various pencillers and inkers tend to employ shadows, which both model the characters more, and lend extra atmosphere to the scenes. A lot of other Trek comics I've read tend to lack atmosphere, like a movie that employs bland lighting.

Dave Cockrum, Joe Brozowski and Luke McDonnell are among the most frequent artists, and inkers Klaus Janson and Tom Palmer recur. But there are also contributions from Mike Nasser, Gil Kane and others. The visuals vary, not always brilliantly effective or dynamic, as artists must juggle the needs of capturing the likeness of the actors (which most do quite well), while mixing them with the needs of comic book action. Among the strongest, I'd argue, is the pairing of Dave Cockrum and Klaus Janson. They do an exemplary job of capturing the actors, but so the likenesses flow with the story, and presenting a comic book-y dynamism to the action, without going overboard and making it too "super hero", and with Janson's coarse inks providing a lot of mood, particularly in the series' only two-parter (#4-5), a self-consciously spooky one as the crew encounters a mysterious haunted house in space. I can have mixed feelings about Janson, but he and Cockrum combine well. Another artistic stand out is Kane's issue, not only for his usual dynamism (married with his all too familiar sloppiness at times, as if rushing to meet a deadline), but for his use of mood, not something I normally associate with Kane.

And by being set in the milieu of the first movie, Kirk et al retain a youthful vigour that allows the stories to be a little more action-oriented. Not all talking heads as some later Trek comics can seem. And with the limitless "budget" of a comic, the artists can envision more alien aliens.

The writers -- mainly Mike Barr and Martin Pasko, but with others contributing -- effectively capture the characters and their interaction. With only the one movie in the bag, they avoid the trap of later Trek comics' cloying tendency to parrot lines from the movies. Most plots are crammed into single issues, making them a bit rushed and simplified compared to hour long episodes. But I've read multi-issue stories produced later by DC Comics...that felt stretched out and would've benefitted from being shoe-horned into one issue! The writers even manage to work in a few "emotional" bits that often seem absent from comic versions, whether it be Kirk feeling guilty about having to order the Enterprise on a possible suicide mission, or an issue involving a jilted lover of Scotty's -- though they still remain rather superficial compared to the TV series (and none of the comics I read indulged in any romantic liaisons).

The plots capture the feel of the original TV episodes (including titles lifted from Shakespearian quotes!). Maybe too much so, with issues bearing more than passing similarity to episodes like "Is There in Truth, No Beauty", "The Paradise Syndrome", and others. They even echo themselves, with at least two stories here involving spooky apparitions that appear and disappear randomly on the Enterprise. Marvel apparently only had the rights to the movie -- so unlike other comics, this isn't just a "greatest hits" parade of familiar guest stars, or sequels to TV episodes. Indeed, though Klingons appear -- it's infrequently, which is refreshing. The creators still draw upon the mythology of the series when desired, though, such as an issue involving the energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy first depicted in the TV series. Though it begs the question as to why the Federation would deliberately send a ship of psi-sensitives through it knowing its effect on telepaths?!?

I'd read most of these issues when they first came out, and maybe wasn't overly enthused originally, though stand outs include Pasko/Kane's "The Quality of Mercy" (#15, which manages to be a fast paced thriller, but with an emotional and socio-political element) and the Barr&Wolfman/Cockrum&Janson two-parter (in #4-5, even if it's more intriguing in the first half than the second). But I recently re-read them all and enjoyed them more -- which is why I say that read as a bunch increases their effectiveness. Admittedly, having read them before, scenes and dialogue resonated with me in a way that almost did make them seem like familiar old episodes.

I also think they improved in my estimation simply by having more to compare them to. Having now read Trek comics produced by everyone from Gold Key to DC and IDW, these old Marvel's stand up pretty well. A nice little tome to have on the shelf and delve into when looking for a little Trek fix.

Cover price: $__ CDN. / $19.99 USA.


Star Trek: Other Realities 2001 (SC TPB) 198 pages

cover by John Van Fleet Written by Tony Isabella & Bob Ingersoll; K.W. Jetter; Peter David. Pencils by Aaron Lopresti; Toby Cypress; Michael Collins. Inks by Randy Emberlin; Jason Martin & Mark Irwin; David R. Roach.
Colours:/letters: various. Editor: Jeff Mariotte.

Reprinting: Star Trek: All of Me, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - N-Vector #1-4, Star Trek: New Frontier - Double Time

Rating: * * * (out of 5)

Number of readings: 1

Published by Wildstorm/DC Comics

There have been many Star Trek comics over the years, published by many companies. And Star Trek itself has spawned other TV series and novels. Wildstorm focused most of its efforts on Star Trek: The Next Generation projects (like Forgiveness) -- I guess it's a generational thing (presumably the Wildstorm guys gew up with that series). But it also produced a few Voyager stories, collected in Encounters With the Unknown, as well as the occasional project focusing on one of the other Treks -- most of which are collected here...

"All of Me"

Utilizing the original "Classic" Trek crew, this begins with a brawl on an Orion pirate ship, with Captain Kirk leaping about, and seems just a little too comicbooky. But once it settles down, the story enters nicely familiar Trek terrain as the Enterprise is sent to check in on one of the Federation's greatest scientists who, in true Trek fashion, it turns out has gone a little mad. It's briskly paced, and though the concept -- which I won't comment on to avoid giving too much away -- threatens to seem a little tongue- in-cheek at times, it's off-beat and reasonably entertaining.

There is an interesting quirk to the scientist in that, though arrogant to the point of megalomania, he actually respects Spock. But ultimately, the story is more focused on the adventure, rather than providing any deep character thred, or metaphor. The weakest part is the end, as an evil alien presence is revealed to be involved. The Star Trek TV series didn't tend to go for plain "evil" (even the nastiest critters they encountered still usually had a motive, even if it was only hunger). And aside from that, the ending feels "open". Perhaps writers Tony Isabella and Bob Ingersoll were hoping to do future Trek comics for Wildstorm, and to use this presence as a recurring menace (even having the characters vow "until next time"). But I'm not sure Wildstorm produced any further Classic Trek comics.

The art by Aaron Lopresti is nice, solid work. Not, perhaps, photo-realist, and not too much in the way of moody shadows or anything, but good comic book art and where the characters readily evoke the actors.

The bottom line is it's a decent enough read, though it shows its comic book origins a little too obviously in the opening and closing.

"N-Vector"

This Deep Space Nine mini-series is set after the TV series and, because the series ended (unlike most Trek shows) with a certain finality (half the characters left) it might seem a bit unrepresentaive of the show. At the same time, it's still set on DS9, and with the remaining characters (Major Kira is now in charge, while Nog -- yes, Nog! -- is acting chief of security). The story has strange things going on, involving Quark, and with evidence of sabotage that seems to point to former chief engineer O'Brien, who is dragged back to DS9 under guard. But (and we learn this early, so it's not a spoiler) the culprit is an experimental Romulan super-virus that can influence machines as well as men. In order to combat it, the characters must team up with a Romulan scientist.

N-Vector is the longest and the least successful of the stories collected here. Although, despite Ferengi characters featured on all the original covers, the story does involve most of the characters (though ferengi Quark is definitely prominant in his sub-plot). Ezri Dax is probably the most ill- served. Author K.W. Jetter wrote an early DS9 novel -- Bloodletter -- which was an O.K. read. It was early enough in the series' production that he (she?) didn't have all the characters down pat, but he did a decent job. Yet, here, individual personalities are almost non-existent. Mention is made that Bashir and O'Brien are friends...but little is depicted. There's a low-key approach to the story, in both writing and art, that never really allows it to become exciting, or particularly involving. And the whole "super virus that can infect/possess any being or object" seems a tad undeveloped, logically. There are also implausible aspects, like the Romulan informing Kira that he has information about what's going on...and she ignores him and boots him out of her office!

The art by Toby Cypress seems more suited to an alternative/independent press sort of thing -- in fact it reminded me a bit of Graham Annable (my review of Annable's Stickleback is here). The characters are rendered in crude, cartoony forms, with impassive expressions, and where, frankly, you can only tell who's who by a process of elimination (It's not O'Brien. It's not the Romulan. Why, it must be Dr. Bashir!) rather than because they look like who they're supposed to. Ironically, in the included character sketches at the back, Cypress shows he can capture a likeness when he tries, but I guess in the comic itself, he wanted to be more impressionistic. There is atmosphere to the art, particularly with the dark colours, but it's very problematic.

"Double Time"

Double Time was my first exposure to the "New Frontier" saga. What's that? you may be asking. Well, it's yet another Star Trek spin-off, featuring a whole new crew and starship (The Excalibur -- yeah, same name as the ship in TV's "Crusade"; which is why it's a good idea to avoid public domain names when naming your stuff in a story). So why have you never seen it? Because it was never a TV series, but exists only in a series of books, all written exclusively by Peter David. This comic is the New Frontier's first (and for a long time, the only) foray into a visual interpretation. Because of that, there was a certain novel appeal just off the top, seeing characters I'd never encountered before, and figuring out their relationships. At the same time, the comic doesn't fully introduce all the characters, so some of the supporting characters remain vague (I wasn't sure if there was one, or two, female Vulcans).

David (a long time comic book writer in addition to being a novelist) is well known for the wit he brings to things, and there's plenty of wisecracks and amusing banter at play, even as the basic story is serious and deals with the tried and true dilemma of power and responsibility.

Captain Calhoun is definitely the most impulsive and headstrong of Star Trek heroes (his rebel leader background making him a bit like if Major Kira, from Deep Space Nine, were given command of a starship). When the crew arrives too late to save an entire civilization from being wiped out by another species, Calhoun, wracked by guilt, decides to time travel back to a point where they can arrive in time. Of course, this raises ethical questions about interference. Writer David seems as though he's siding with Calhoun...until we get to the denouement.

The story is reasonably interesting, and gets marks for trying to tackle an ethical idea (moreso than "Double Time" or "N-Vector"). It's a story that probably couldn't have been done using any other crew (it's hard to picture Kirk, or Picard, or anyone acting so impulsively...well, except maybe Archer). Interestingly, one of the most famous episodes of the original Star Trek series, "The City on the Edge of Forever", was one conceived by Harlan Ellison where Kirk faced a similar time-interference question. It was controversial (within certain fan circles) because in the original draft, Kirk, in a moment of emotional weakness, fails to make the hard decision, but the series' makers re-wrote the script. David really liked the original concept (as evident by his writing an afterward for a re-issue of the original script in book form) and so it's interesting that he, years later, writes a story wherein a starship captain sides with emotion over logic in such matters, just as Ellison wanted Kirk to do.

Anyway, it's an interesting enough tale, nicely illustrated by Collins in a straightforward way (lots of realist poses of people standing around, talking) but with some nice mood created by inks and sombre colours. Of course, because of the emphasis on the "dilemma", the adventure-story aspect can be a bit thin in spots. As well, the problem with grappling with the question of time, interference, and paradoxes, is that it really raises a whole lot of technical problems that David just ignores. Reading it, you suspect there'll be an ironic twist in the end. And there is. Except, perhaps hoping to surprise us, David goes for an unexpected twist...but one that has little to do with their messing with the time stream!

As well, the downside to having lots of witty badinage, I've realized over the years (notably in SF shows like StarGate and Andromeda) is that, although it can make the scenes more fun...it can rob some of the reality and seriousness from the story, undermining the drama a little.

Still, Double Time is certainly a good read. It should be fun for fans of the novels to see a visual interpretation of the characters, and for those unfamiliar with the books, it certainly encourages one to try them.

Bottom line? An O.K. collection, but nothing exceptional.

Cover price: $24.95 CDN. / $14.95 USA.


Star Trek: To Boldly Go 2005 (SC TPB) 144 pages

cover

Written by Mike W. Barr. Pencils by Tom Sutton. Inks by Ricard Villagran, with Sal Amendola.
Colours: Michele Wolfman. Letters: John Constanza. Editor: Marv Wolfman.

Reprinting: Star Trek #1-6 (1st DC Comics series) 1984

Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 5)

Number of readings: 3

Published by Titan Books

Various publishers have produced Star Trek comics over the years, now with yet more companies reprinting comics first published by others. So although IDW currently publishes Star Trek comics...this is the first of a number of collections by Britain's Titan Books collecting comics originally published by DC Comics.

DC was the third company to produce Star Trek comics. Gold Key's were set within the milieu of the TV series. Marvel's had the characters wearing the uniforms from the first motion picture. DC's followed the second Trek movie, with the costumes and situations derived from it. Breaking with tradition, DC decided to comic book-ify the comics by indulging in more multi-issue plots, and adding in supporting characters that had never appeared on screen...allowing the writers to tease along sub-plots. The other significant difference was as Spock died in Star Trek II, initially it was a Star Trek comic without one of the stars.

The first issue begins with Kirk being officially reinstated as captain of the Enterprise. With his old crew, as well as Saavik (from Star Trek II) and a few original characters, the Enterprise is sent to investigate Klingon attacks in the neutral zone and discover a new Klingon weapon. But no sooner has Kirk dealt with that then the Klingons declare all out war on the Federation -- something that was prohibited by the Organians (a god-like race first encountered in the TV series). But when Kirk's Starfleet bosses seem as eager to go to war as the Klingons, a suspicious Kirk decides to head to Organia to find out what's going on.

This four part arc never really excites, despite lots of action and space battles, and the threat of galactic war -- or maybe because of it. I tend to be more interested in Star Trek "exploring strange new worlds" rather than just duking it out with Klingons. And writer Barr seems a mass of conflicting ideologies. He seems to like the gung ho militarism...even as he later plays the moderate, his Kirk perturbed by his superiors' uncharacteristic hawkish attitudes. The story might've benefitted by stretching out that more, playing up the unsettledness of Kirk and the gang at odds with their own superiors (ala the later TV series, "Babylon 5"). Although Barr seems a bit vague as to the cause of it all. On one hand, aliens are manipulating Klingons and Starfleet both...but they are only manipulating a few key players, which doesn't really explain why members of the crew riot, or the tone of Starfleet propaganda commercials.

Barr is clearly a Trek fan, having written Star Trek comics for a number of companies over the years, and is quick to evoke the characters and ideas. But here he tends to play up Kirk testily snapping orders, making the tone rather hawkish overall. And the whole can seem a bit like just a fanboy indulgence, as Barr coyly works in lines meant to echo dialogue from previous episodes and movies, and with plenty of references to past events, and with Klingons and Organians and another race from the series. Even many of the Klingons are characters from the series (despite being drawn to ressemble the movie versions of Klingons).

It can all seem just a little...tired. The story even bears a passing similarity to the very first Star Trek novel, James Blish's "Spock Must Die!"

Part of the point is just to negate the whole Organian Peace Treaty idea (something later done by IDW in Star Trek: Year Four - The Enterprise Experiment -- the different comics series ignoring each other). Part of that is maybe because it mutes any later threat if we know the Organians will prevent war (in subsequent TV series and movies, I think they just ignored the Organian episode). And one could argue it was a Deus ex mahina cop out for a series that prided itself on its relevancy. But Barr really doesn't seem to like the Organians or the idea of them. Part of it is put on the level that humans (and Klingons) must work things out for themselves, that they shouldn't be babysat by a superior power. But that's a kind of specious argument. In our society, we freely accept the notion of higher authorities (police, courts, governments, the U.N.) -- or is Barr suggesting that if street gangs were rampaging through his neighbourhood they should be allowed to work it out for themselves...no matter how many innocents are killed in the crossfire?

I've read this opening arc a few times over the years...and it never really works for me. Perhaps it's because, philiosophy aside, despite the action, Barr doesn't really create the fun sense of a movie serial-like rollercoaster the way he did with his Mirror Universe Saga.

What is interesting though, is that Barr introduces to the regular cast a Klingon who joins the Enterprise -- this being long before Worf and The Next Generation. But though he gives us a sympathetic Klingon...he basically suggests that he must be a mutant or something to explain why he's not like other Klingons. Substitute for Klingon "black" or "Asian" and you can see why it's uncomfortable.

This is followed up by a couple of the one-shot stories, including "Mortal Gods" which goes the traditional Star Trek route of the characters in search of a lost Starfleet officer on a primitive planet. Again, it all seems a little too familiar. And again with Kirk as a tight lipped commandant. And why the crew uses lethal phaser fire is another question. Though the story must've appealed to enough editors that it was included in DC's Best of Star Trek TPB.

I don't have issue #6 in my collection.

The art by Tom Sutton is problematic. On one hand, he certainly does a better than decent job of evoking the actors' faces, but Sutton has always being a loose artist, where bodies and backgrounds can seem a bit hastily plastered across a page. His bridge seems to change from panel to panel (not helped by the colourist's choice of hues that match nothing depicted in the movies or series). He can tell the story, but there's a certain lack of aesthetic appeal. Though the scene where the Enterprise and some Klingon ship's get into a fight over Organia is well rendered and exciting. Regular inker Ricardo Villagran seems to clean up the pencils a bit...at least when contrasted with Sal Amendola's inks on #5, where the visuals just look messy.

Ultimately, having read these issues a few times over the years, they've never really clicked for me.

This is a review of the comics as they were originally published.

Cover price: CDN. / USA.


Star Trek: Year Four - Enterprise Experiment 2008 (SC TPB) 144 pages

cover Written by D.C. Fontana & Derek Chester. Pencils by Gordon Purcell. Inks by various. Inks by various.
Colours:/letters: various. Editor: Andrew Steven Harris, Scott Dunbier.

Reprinting: Star Trek: Year Four - The Enterprise Experiment #1-5

Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 5)

Additional notes: covers; introduction; the original story outline proposals.

Number of readings: 2

Published by IDW Publishing

TV/movie based comics have existed almost as long as comics themselves, but recently there's been a new trend involving input from the "real" creators -- such as Dark Horse's Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight comics, frequently written by Buffy creator Joss Whedon. So when IDW announced it had gotten D.C. Fontana to co-write their second "Year Four" mini-series (set at the time of the original TV series -- even utilizing characters from the 1970s cartoon!), one could imagine a certain piqued curiosity among fandom. A real Star Trek writer was taking a whack at the comic! And a woman who was part of the original, seminal creative team.

The five part series is broken up into two plots that (sort of) tie together. The opening two-parter has the Enterprise testing a cloaking device that throws the ship out of dimensional whack similar to the phenomenon they encountered in the TV episode "The Tholian Web". While vulnerable, the ship is approached by a Romulan starship from the TV episode, "The Enterprise Incident". After that story resolves, they learn that the peace imposed by the Organians (from "Errand of Mercy") seems to have evaporated. Klingon commander Kor (also from that episode) attacks a Federation mining colony; the Enterprise arrives, only to discover the remains of a Preservers outpost (previously referenced in the episode "The Paradise Syndrome") and so on. Along the way there are flashbacks, cameos and/or references alluding to the original TV series, the animated series, the motion pictures and even Star Trek novels, to everyone from Carol Marcus to I-Chaya (Spock's childhood pet!)

All this for a TV series in which only one guest star character (con man Harry Mudd) ever appeared in more than one episode and Romulans and/or Klingons were the chief adversaries in barely a dozen episodes! With D.C. Fontana involved, I hoped we'd get something "Boldly Going..." to "strange new worlds" and all that -- not this parade of references and familiar faces.

What Fontana and co-writer Derek Chester do have is familiarity with the characters, delivering evocative dialogue and scenes. And there is a nostalgic fun in seeing the old engine room, the old uniforms.

The opening scene has Kirk and Spock having a melancholy conversation about Carol Marcus and Kirk's son, David (a kind of retroactive implant since it wasn't until a later movie that they were introduced). So one thinks that there will be a heavier emotional content to this story than a lot of Trek pastiches. But there isn't. There are scenes providing character moments for Spock and McCoy...but as flashbacks with no relevance to the plot. Remove the character scenes...and the plot would be unaffected! There's no romantic interest...or any significant guest star other than the regulars and recurring foes. Further emphasizing it's about plot...rather than the "human adventure".

So though the writers deliver dialogue that suits the characters...they don't necessarily capture the deeper interaction. Nor do some of the recurring characters quite seem themselves. Villain Kor (as played on TV by John Colicos) had a sinister charm. Here, he's a stereotypical one note, angry Klingon, obsessed with his honour (or loss thereof).

Doing a retro story, there's a balance between evoking the TV series, while acknowledging things to come. So the Klingons are unapologetically drawn as they were in the original series, but allusions are made to things that weren't introduced until years later (like Starfleet's black ops Section 31). Heck, even Kor's concern about loss of face call upon the later versions of the Klingons (when writers seemed to be confusing them with the Romulan culture).

The review I posted after a first reading was -- moderately -- good (3/5 stars). But, I'll admit, after a second reading a few years later...I'm more ambivalent.

The two-parter is mildly enjoyable. But the final three-parter isn't as strong -- maybe its very length mutes its impact, without many memorable moments (save when they first view what the miners had discovered), all building to a climax that is just a lot of talking heads. And the plot itself seems a bit loose.

Maybe coming to comics from TV, Fontana was having trouble gauging pacing. But there are a lot of panels of characters talking with word balloons as big as the characters. And it tends to be more technical than emotional. Even character scenes can feel like they are discussing their emotions...rather than expressing them! Except by "plot oriented"...I don't actually mean the plot is that interesting or complex! The later Star Trek TV series became known (and notorious) for their "technobabble", and there's a lot of that here.

Artist Gordon Purcell has had a long association with Star Trek comics. Here given an added twist by the fact he's drawing the actors as they were in the original television series, as opposed to their older, movie versions as he'd done before. Purcell does a decent job evoking the core actors which, in a media tie in comic, is often a plus. But his choice of angles and poses are fairly bland, and there's little use of shadows or anything that might imbue the scenes with mood. The figures are stiff, the scenes undynamic and, well, cartoony.

Of course, for all my complaints about all the continuity references -- and the fact that it will be nigh incomprehensible to anyone but a hardcore fan -- maybe that's the point. Not unlike the earlier graphic novel, Debt of Honor. As mentioned, they aren't just using what occurred in the series, but referencing the animated series and anticipating the movies. There's even a bit where dialogue is borrowed from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier -- one of my favourite Trek movies, but often dismissed by fans, so it's nice that Fontana and Chester are clearly accepting it as part of the canon.

When towards the end it's suggested it was the Preservers who erected the barrier around our galaxy (seen in the original series) and did so to keep out an outside force, you can kind of admire the way they're tying together widely disparate ideas.

That could actually have been a cool idea for a Trek story -- that there's something lurking outside the galaxy that's so much bigger and badder than anything they've ever faced, and...it's...coming! But...that's not what the story's about (in fact they just shrug it off casually). And ultimately we don't know much more about the Preservers at the end of this story arc than we did when they were first referenced in "The Paradise Syndrome".

Part of the inspiration behind some comics and novels is to patch up continuity problems -- even if they are apocryphal patches. And the biggest continuity problem this addresses is the peace imposed by the Organians in "Errand of Mercy" which was referenced in later TV episodes...but ignored thereafter. The first ever original Star Trek novel, Spock Must Die!, and the first story arc when DC Comics acquired the Star Trek rights (reviewed here) both dealt with the Organia dilemma (and there were probably others -- the licensing rules meaning each publisher ignores the continuity of the others). One can maybe see why later writers thought it was problematic. Too much of a Deus ex machina solution. And stories involving Klingons could nevermore threaten to escalate into galactic war.

Unfortunately, I also think a lot of writers -- and fans -- like the idea of Star Trek as a gunboat in space, and the notion of an enforced peace just gets them seeing red. The same way the United Nations or peacekeepers gets right wingers riled up. I mean, the argument used in these stories, that humans (and Klingons) need to find their own solutions, is a bit disingenuous -- after all, it's not the people, but a very small ruling elite that make choices about war and peace

Still, at least here when Kirk has his climactic argument with the Organian, there's more of a back and forth (unlike when Mike Barr wrote a similar scene in the DC comics). Though there's a curious contradiction, as the Organians are both criticized for banning war...and criticized for lifting their ban!

I grew up with Star Trek and as such, there's a kind of unattainable Platonic Ideal I have in my head of what a "real" Star Trek story should be. But despite my hopes that a D.C. Fontana scripted comic would be Star Trek "done right"...I was left disappointed. Too much emphasis on "fanboy" references and Cold War militarism (despite Kirk suggesting military matters are a distraction from science and exploration), and on phaser fights with Romulans and Klingons, and little if any emphasis on "strange new worlds" and the "human adventure".

Like Debt of Honor, by virtue of all its continuity references, it seems almost like it wants to be the ultimate fanboy indulgence -- THE Star Trek adventure. But it fails because, multitude of references aside, the plot(s) themselves never amount to more than a minor couple of episodes. And episodes without any particularly compelling emotional cores, or stand out scenes or twists. And with stiff visuals and an overly verbose script, I'll admit, on a second reading I was just turning pages to get to the end.

Cover price: CDN. / USA.


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