Sunday, October 30, 2011

IDW's new Star Trek comics

After a long stretch with little in the way of new Star Trek comics, aside from two issues of the Infestation crossover, IDW has decided to restart things in a big way, with a new ongoing series and an event miniseries.

IDW's tie-ins to the new movie continuity have reportedly been among their best-selling Star Trek comics, which explains why their first ongoing monthly Star Trek comic is set in the Abramsverse. What's less obvious is why they've apparently decided that the way to avoid stepping on the movie producers' toes is to retell original series episodes in the new continuity, looking at how those stories might have happened differently.

The first two issues revisit "Where No Man Has Gone Before." I've got two main concerns about this story. First, two issues isn't long enough to retell an hour-long episode. The story is really rushed. More important, though, are the changes to the story. The basic premise is that these experiences will play out differently for this crew in this universe because of the changes Nero's time travel made to the timeline. But the changes made to "Where No Man Has Gone Before" feel arbitrary; they don't feel like they arose from the timeline changes, they feel like the writer just decided, okay, let's just say this character isn't involved, and let's say that character decides to do that, and so on. There are some moments when you can see that the writer is trying to think some things through -- the Kirk/Spock relationship is clearly a bit different -- but in two issues that can't be explored adequately.

As for the Legion of Super-Heroes crossover... well, one issue just isn't enough to go on, given how little happens. There's two parallel storylines setting up the crossover, one for the (original timeline) Enterprise crew, one for the Legion, both ending at the point where they realize they're in an alternate universe, with the two sets of characters not meeting yet. I'm not as excited as some people about this one because all I know about the Legion is that they're a bunch of outer space superheroes with names like Anti-Matter Lad. This story focuses on half a dozen of them, so I should be able to get enough sense of who they are as characters as the story progresses over several issues.

The art in both series is pretty good; no complaints on that score. What remains to be seen is how well the writers can get past the high concept elements of each series (retelling old stories with the new cast! crossover!) . I suspect the miniseries may do a better job at that, because it has several issues to tell one story. I hope IDW doesn't intend to use the first two issues of the ongoing series as a rigid formula -- every two issues, another episode arbitrarily changed.


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