In Review: Star Trek Annual 2013
The covers: A photographic montage (clockwise) of the Enterprise, a Klingon cruiser, Dr. McCoy, Mr. Spock, and Captain Kirk looking on in surprise at the center image of Gary Mitchell, glowing with power. I love the layout and the coloring as it looks like a Gold Key comic, though this is published by IDW. This photomontage is by writer and artist John Byrne. I stayed away from all the press about this book, so I was jumping with joy to see Mitchell’s return. Overall grade: A+
The story: After a one page introduction from young John Byrne in “Pieces of the Action” on how he was able to create the look of this book, and the classic opening narration from Kirk, the story begins with the Enterprise receiving a signal from Delta Vega, an infamous location in Kirk’s past. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down the planet, the spot where almost three years ago Kirk had to kill his friend Gary Mitchell. He orders Kirk and McCoy to find the source of the signal while he wants to visit the grave of his friend. ”Strange New Worlds” is a story that every Star Trek fan will enjoy. It’s not really a really sequel to the classic episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” but more of a continuation and conclusion to the story begun originally by Samuel A. Peeples. This story hits every mark I want in a Trek story: great action, a nice mystery, integration of unseen incidents in the characters’ pasts, other characters from Trek’s history (with an absolute stunner on the final page that had me screaming “More!”), and flawless dialogue, especially in the narration and the Captain’s Log from Kirk. The problem with reviewing this book is I can’t give any specifics without revealing the surprises. What I can say is that there’s actual character growth for Kirk and his antagonist, and that’s an amazing feat for a franchise character that’s almost 50 years old. Highlights for me were Kirk’s discovery on Pages 13 and 14, all of the characters that first appear on 15 and Spock’s obvious insight, the sequence that starts on 25, and Kirk’s dynamite speech to his foe. This is perfection. Overall grade: A+
The art: This has got to be the most unique comic ever created. John Byrne explains how he worked his magic on this book on the first page, cutting and pasting images from his, self described, embarrassing knowledge of Star Trek’s episodes to create this lost tale. The results are stunning, similar, but so much better, to the Fotonovels of the late 1970s. It’s amazing how this “lost episode” was created combining the actors, the sets, and the ships with familiar and new location. Simply put, this is a fan’s dream come true. How could one not be excited to see Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and all the other cast members, as you remember them, in a story that’s never been shown? Pages that caught my eye included 17 – 19, 25 – 29 (my favorite Trek setting of all time), 34 – 36, and the reveal on 40. Byrne also provides the lettering on this book and it’s tip top, with the classic Trek font on the title page, narration, dialogue, and some key sound effects, with my favorite being the communicator wail. This is a book that has to be seen to be believed. Overall grade: A+
A side note: At this year’s Comikaze IDW panel I asked Chris Ryall if there were plans for more of these books from John Byrne. He said there were because John liked doing this and sales for the book were strong. I then asked if there were plans to do the same with other properties that IDW had, like The X-Files. Ryall said he’d love to, but he doesn’t know anyone who has a knowledge of that series like Byrne knows Trek. He didn’t think anyone would come close. Fueling my hopes for another installment in this Byrne creation is a two page interview with him that closes with “…if Chris asked me to do this as an ongoing monthly, I think I’d be game for it.” I feel like Dr. McCoy hearing some kind of stunning information, “My god, man! You don’t just toss that on an unsuspecting population!” After not continuing Byrne’s Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor and Crew, please go for this, IDW!
The final line: This is the (Yes, I’m putting the article in italics for emphasis) Star Trek item of the year. This is the Star Trek I grew up with and this is the Star Trek I love. This is the Christmas gift for every Star Trek fan. It gets no better than this. Name your price for a monthly, IDW, and I’ll gladly pay it. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.