Sunday, March 09, 2008

IDW's Star Trek comics

I don't seem to have posted anything about the current line of Star Trek comics yet. I intended to hold off for a few months until I had enough issues to make some kind of worthwhile opinion, but frankly, the first miniseries, The Space Between, nearly crushed my enthusiasm.

I have every IDW comic published so far -- issues of The Space Between, Klingons: Blood Will Tell, Year Four, Alien Spotlight, Intelligence Gathering -- but I've only read the first three complete stories.

Klingons: Blood Will Tell, written by Scott and David Tipton, was the best of the three. Strong art, an interesting Klingon perspective on some familiar encounters, and an actual story arc from issue to issue that came to a good conclusion. The stories were well written and well paced.

The Space Between and Year Four, both written by David Tischman, suffered from the editorial decision to do more or less standalone stories in each issue. It didn't work -- in almost every issue of the two series, I had the feeling that pages were missing. Stories were sketched out, not told in full, or so it seemed to me. Twenty-two pages of comic story is not a match for 45 minutes of screen time. You cannot develop a story and guest characters well enough in so short a space. The Space Between had some arc elements, but there again not enough space was given to make those elements as clear as they should have been. It's hard to figure out the point of doing miniseries of standalone stories instead of just an ongoing series of standalone stories.

IDW's standard practice is to do a five- or six-issue miniseries and reprint it shortly thereafter in an omnibus paperback. From what I read, the comic industry as a whole is moving to collections like these, to the point where there's some concern whether the old-fashioned comic book format is being skipped over by fans waiting for the paperbacks. If the books are the main delivery system, why not tell longer stories? Why not give us feature length stories instead of telling a whole story/episode in what feels like the equivalent of the teaser and the first act, wrapping things up in time for the commercials?


At 11:06 PM, Blogger Andrew Timson said...

Certainly, I'm not buying issues of any comics I'm interested in. Why would I spend more on that ad-laden crap when I can just wait for the TPB?

That said, I think that this is a failure of IDW's Trek editor. Other editors/publishers like Randy Stradley and… uh, I forget his cohort's name. Anyways, the Star Wars comics do a much better job of balancing individual issues vs. the overall arc than what you describe.

At 3:06 PM, Blogger Keith R.A. DeCandido said...

Keep in mind that the editor you're blaming is long gone. Believe me when I say that Andrew Steven Harris's approach is a far stronger one, and we'll be seeing the fruits of that over the coming months. For one thing, the next bit of Year Four is an extended story by D.C. Fontana, ditto PAD's New Frontier comic book. Byrne's Assignment: Earth will be more episodic, I think, and obviously so are the Alien Spotlights.

There'll be a better mix, though. And Andrew's plans are really good ones, believe me. :)

At 9:23 AM, Blogger 8of5 said...

Indeed, Alien Spotlight has shown very clearly that a standalone story in twenty-two pages is entirely possible. Andrew Steven Harris' own Borg issue packed 500% more story and information in than any of Tischman's comics.

Back when Wildstorm had the license they did a couple of longer graphic novels and what I think they call prestige format releases which were also longer. It would be nice to see IDW do some of those maybe, but they are defiantly heading towards more story arcs in the miniseries they have announced at the moment (and with four comics a month soon I’m not sure I’d actually want them to start issuing longer stories straight to book form on the side too!)

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Steve said...

The change in editor sounds promising. Heck, I'd love to see them be successful with this.

At 12:23 AM, Blogger FAB said...

I am a comics reader and of course I gave Star Trek comics a hot - I read Star Trek: Other Realities (Graphic Novel) by Tony Isabella (years ago). The stories were great but then I was not happy with the art so I never did get around to buying the monthlies whenever they're available. But with what I've read here, I may give Peter David's New Frontier a shot.


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