Review: Star Trek #1

IDW's new ongoing series has the look of the new-school Enterprise crew, but keeps its old-school sensibility by giving a new spin on the original pilot episode.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Star Trek #1

J.J. Abrams' relaunching of the Star Trek film franchise ruffled some feathers with its amplified action and sidestepping the original timeline, but most people thought it was pretty rad.  While the inevitable sequel has been consistently delayed while Abrams worked on other things, it's time for IDW to step in and give fans a comic series set in the new universe where Spock and Uhura are a thing and everybody looks like young actors.  However, in Star Trek #1 (available digitally this week as well from iVerse's Comics+) writer Mike Johnson is employing a cool tactic to make sure it hooks old-school Trekkers and new-school fans alike – taking the pilot episode from the original series and molding it into the new era.

Before anyone gets uptight, it's technically the second pilot episode entitled Where No Man Has Gone Before, meaning the first one with Captain James Tiberius Kirk at the helm of the U.S.S. Enterprise and not the thing with Captain Christopher Pike.  In the original series, the episode was based around two members of the crew being traumatized by a force field at the edge of the galaxy, granting them disturbing psionic powers that result in eventual tragedy.  In this issue, we do get Helmsman Gary Mitchell experiencing the same sort of thing once again, but his partner in power Dr. Elizabeth Dehner isn't even aboard the Enterprise, having had some sort of relationship with Bones McCoy that steered her away from service aboard that old country doctor's vessel.  Seeing as how Dehner was instrumental in ending Mitchell's threat, we have no idea how this will shake out anymore.

The same, but different.  The philosophy that made the 2009 film a success is being employed here as well.  So hopefully, anyone annoyed that Simon Pegg is Scotty instead of James Doohan can be soothed a bit.

Artist Stephen Molnar does a really good job in capturing the likenesses of Pegg, Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock and Karl Urban as McCoy, but a little less so with Zoe Saldana as Uhura so far.  The trouble that arises when rigidly trying to approximate real people's faces into drawn artwork is that it becomes very difficult to make those faces expressive.  The result is that the book still comes off a bit stiff, even though it's supposed to be capturing the youthful energy of the new franchise reboot.  It's possible things will pick up in the next issue, however, when the Gary Mitchell Psychic Nightmare picks up steam and begins to threaten the entire crew with power they can't hope to fight.  A lot of potential for action there to allow the comic book medium to really flourish in its service of this supposedly higher-octane version of life aboard the Enterprise.

If Johnson's plan is to reimagine every episode of the original series with new circumstances, it could turn out to be pretty cool and a lot of fun.  There's already an interesting conflict developing between Spock's recommendation to kill Mitchell and Kirk's fierce defense of his longtime friend, just as it was in the original.  However, how will this new, more emotional Spock behave differently than the more reserved Leonard Nimoy version?  That's what we'll keep checking back to find out.