Star Trek Boldly Go #1
Want to know what happens after Star Trek Beyond?
Written by Mike Johnson
Art by Tony Shasteen
Release Date: Wed 10/19/2016
Reviewed by Roger An 10/23/2016
I like IDW's Star Trek Ongoing comic series (2011-2016) better than the recent films. The recent Star Trek comics have had better plots and characterizations of both the Kelvin and Prime Universes. For readers who aren't familiar with Star Trek terminology: the Prime universe is the original reality from Kirk to Picard in all of the TV shows.
The Kelvin universe is the reboot of the series starting from the 2009 film, when a character from the Prime universe goes back in time to royally f*^k some $#!t up. He starts by destroying the USS Kelvin. This results in films that emphasize punching or shooting your problems until they're resolved, which isn't really what classic Star Trek is about. I loved old Star Trek episodes for the philosophical questions they asked, and the tough moral choices characters needed to make.
Till the new Star Trek Discovery TV series begins, I think Star Trek comics are where Trekkies can get their fix on good stories starring their favorite characters. I've started this fanzine, and decided that I don't want to write any reviews of stories that I think are negative or mediocre. I'm only going to write reviews of stories that I thoroughly enjoy. That said, I won't be reviewing the films, Star Trek Beyond, Star Trek Into Darkness, or the 2009 Star Trek Reboot. 'Nuff said.
I feel that in the new Kelvin films, the rebooted characters show a ton of unexplored potential. The new films appeal to me like what a Star Trek arena rock concert would be, and I can appreciate their pageantry and cinematography. Still I'm not the only one, who misses the deep philosophical questions, and nuanced character development. Remember when Captain Kirk or Picard would just sit down and read? Can you see Chris Pine ever having screen time to read some classic literature?
I can safely say that Star Trek Boldly Go is going to explore the Kelvin characters more appealingly than the films did. When I saw preview covers of the new series, I was very intrigued with the art style, and particularly intrigued with a surprise villain on the cover of later issues. I thoroughly enjoyed issues of the Kelvin crew in the Star Trek Ongoing series from September 2011 - August 2016. I was bummed to hear it was ending, but enjoyed the finale which crossed over the Kelvin and Prime universe counterparts. A nice love letter to both the new and the old crews.
We are in good hands with Star Trek Boldly Go, because Mike Johnson wrote 97% of the Ongoing series, and Tony Shasteen drew 37% of it. They were also the team behind the recent Star Trek - Green Lantern crossover which was very fun. Star Trek Boldly Go, picks up a few months after the latest film, Star Trek Beyond, and it's a fun ride. I really enjoy the flare, and more expressive art, in Boldly Go. I did not immediately recognize that Tony Shasteen was the same artist from the ongoing series. The characters look more stylized, and I like the update for this series!
While the Enterprise is being rebuilt, Kirk has been reassigned to the USS Endeavour as its Captain, and has a few familiar faces with him. The USS Endeavour looks like a Constitution class ship with nacelles parallel to the stardrive section, rather than at 45 degrees. We get to see Lieutenant Darwin, who was a visually memorable, but minor character in "Star Trek Into Darkness."
We see a few new crewman. Kirk's new Number One: Commander Valas, is a beautiful Romulan, whose parents defected to the Federation. I love that in one group panel, there's a young Vulcan with a stylish millennial haircut. I guess by the 22nd Century, that might be a retro do. And we catch up with Dr. McCoy, who's accepted a lower rank in order to continue serving with Jim Kirk. He's got a tough boss in Chief Medical Officer Groffus, that looks like a crotchety old Tellarite, and points out that she's a woman. (Fun visual double take, because we find out that Tellarite women can have beards!)
I've communicated all the info you need, to decide whether you want to purchase and read this issue. From this point onwards, I am going to talk about plot-points that may be spoilers, so don't read below the SPOILER SPACE graphic, if you don't want to ruin any surprises!
We catch up with Spock on New Vulcan. He's decided to take a sabbatical there with Uhuru. Uhuru looks fantastic in traditional Vulcan dress which harkens back to the dress worn by T'pau, Spock's shady betrothed in the Prime Universe. It's nice to see them spending family time with Spock's father Sarek.
Montgomery Scott is teaching at Starfleet Academy. Another alien with a stylish haircut, gets put in his place by Scotty when the young Andorian, questions his professor's qualifications at teaching starship safety protocols. Eagle-eyed readers will observe Jaylah, the badass alien survivor from the Star Trek Beyond film, sitting behind said Andorian. She was a real scene stealer in Star Trek Beyond, and I hope to see more of her in the series.
The next page brings us to what Sulu is up to, and he's been promoted to first officer of the USS Concord, which he comments is half the size of the Enterprise. The Concord design is strikingly awkward, as if to communicate its weakness. The ship looks like a saucer section on a nacelle, and I immediately worry for Hikaru. Later in the issue, I see that the saucer is attached to a star drive, and is just missing nacelles. Guess you don't need nacelles to go into warp!
On the Concord, it's nice to see another African American captain, since Sisko. When I read that his name is Terrell, I immediately wonder if he's a younger Clark Terrell from Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. I hope he has a better fate here in the Kelvin universe. Because in the Prime Universe, in one of cinema's most horrifying sequences, Captain Terrell has a Ceti Alpha V Eel larvae crawl up his ear canal. I just found a dead earwig in my home, and realized that it looks a lot like the Ceti Alpha V Eel! Thankfully, I saw online that earwigs are practically harmless, and just seek shelter indoors from the rain. It was raining this weekend around NYC.
Back to the shiny Kelvin reality, Sulu comments to his new Captain, that a six month mission is better than the old Enterprise's five year mission, and I wonder if it's because Sula has started a family, as shown on Star Trek Beyond? I thought that the Star Trek Beyond film was bold in choosing to make Sulu gay. George Takei expressed his dislike of this retcon, and Sulu actor John Cho gave a very intelligent assessment of how this should be handled in an Onion AV Club interview.
They only briefly showed Sulu's male partner, and their daughter in the film. Wonder where the comics may take this. I definitely wanted more from the Beyond film, and wondered what wondrous opportunities the Star Trek future could hold for gay couples. For instance, would future technology make it possible for a same-sex couple to both contribute their DNA into conceiving children? If Paramount allows it, I'd love to see some Star Trek authors explore this.
Off-panel, the Concord is confronted with an unknown off-screen alien vessel that hails them with an unknown language. The font is beautiful but undecipherable! Back to the Endeavour, Kirk is having a drink with McCoy and Chekov. (Can't help but feel a pang of sadness for actor, Anton Yelchin's death here.) The background here evokes the Enterprise-D's Ten Forward. I like it! They talk about Commander Valas' background which is intriguing. Kirk is called away from leisure time by the Concord's distress call. They forward the message to their exolinguistics expert, Uhuru on New Vulcan.
The Endeavour arrives to find survivors, and the saucer section ripped away. Sulu says Captain Terrell's been abducted. Remember when I said that I hope Captain Terrell has a better fate in this Kelvin reality than the Prime one? When we hear Uhuru and Sulu translate the beautiful font to "Resistance is futile," Terrell's alternate existence may be even more agonizing.
Nice, sharp and punchy new issue. Love the new ideas, art, and execution which lives up to the title, "Boldly Go." I am very curious to see how Young Kirk handles the Borg. I like that the Borg get their own font. I like the peril we feel the Enterprise crew is in, because they don't even have their beloved ship to confront the Borg in. This is what comic book adaptations of popular film & TV series should do. They should up the ante in a way that the film and TV franchises can't. It's a great start! I highly recommend you pick up and read this issue.
Below are some Amazon links to the issue reviewed above, and my favorite story-arc of the recent Star Trek Ongoing series graphic novel. Wanted to also include one of my favorite old Star Trek resouces, the Star Trek Encyclopedia, since it is actually going to have an update soon! Please click through these Amazon referral links below to purchase them if you'd like to support this site.