Sunday, February 27, 2011

Issue Seven: Pon Farr

The Origin of Saavik
Part One: Pon Farr

Saavik enters the Vulcan mating rite Pon Far which is complicated by the fact that her Betrothed has gone on a secret mission of high importance to the planet Vulcan. Also, Saavik's origin is revealed.


Why do half-Vulcan's like to scream "PAIN!" in moments of extreme physical duress? It's just something I've always found curious.  Spock does it and Saavik does too! If it were a human undergoing stress he/she may simply groan "Ohhhhhh!" or "Owwwww!".  Occasionally, an "Ahhhhhhhgggg!" might be the proper thing to say. But not when you're half Vulcan! I guess you have to be absolutely clear to yourself and to the audience what's going on in your world and nothing makes it more crystal clear than simply shouting "PAAAAAAAAIIIIN!"

Click this text to learn about Spock, Amok Time, and Pon Farr!

So, the story begins with Saavik fighting the blood fever-or the Plak Tow that signals the onset of Pon Farr.  We learned about Pon Far, the Vulcan mating ritual waay back in the original series with the episode "Amok Time" when it happened to Mr. Spock. We, the audience, knows what's troubling Lt. Saavik but of course the crew of the Enterprise has no idea why Saavik is acting so uncharacteristically emotional.
Meanwhile, David Marcus rendezvous' with the Enterprise to hitch a ride to where the USS Grissom is waiting to take him to explore the newly formed Genesis Planet. Kirk throws a banquet in honor of his son. During a toast, Kirk wishes long life to his friends and confusion to their enemies the Klingons and the Romulans.  Saavik is half Romulan and under the influence of the Plak Tow she takes obvious offense, smashes her wine glass and storms out of the banquet.
Saavik retires to her quarters where she continues to throw a half-Vulcan sized fit. She's visited by Kirk and McCoy to see what's up. Actually, McCoy remembers a certain other half-Vulcan acting in the same manner years before. McCoy tells Kirk what time it is and Saavik affirms his suspicions. She also explains that a few mitigating circumstances made it unclear whether she would undergo Pon Farr at all. Saavik recounts how Commander Spock, between missions on the Enterprise, beamed down to an abandoned Romulan post on a scientific mission and found her wandering amongst the ruins, little more than a feral child. The reasons Spock became Saaviks sponsor and mentor are not known to her but it can be surmised that perhaps Spock felt a kindred spirit towards the little outcast. Perhaps he saw a bit of himself in her-in worse circumstances. Spock takes the child back to Vulcan where she is adopted by Sarek and Amenda, Spock's parents.
I'm not real fond of the idea of Spock's parents raising Saavik. I mean, it seems a little too convenient and "all in the family". It's certainly not beyond reason or anything. It's just that perhaps I was hoping for a little more mystery in Spock's exact relationship to Saavik. I'm sure the novels have more to say about this but for the purposes of this blog we'll stick to what's either been on screen or in the original series.
So anyways, Saavik is bonded with a Vulcan boy named Xon.  He was previously bonded with a girl who was killed by a wild Sehlat. Somehow, between that and Saavik's heritage being mixed made the bonding imperfect  so it was going to be a "wait and see" thing if she would succumb to the Pon Farr ritual. Well, the time has finally come and Saavik has her answer.
Admiral Kirk has Enterprise change course for Vulcan and they proceed there with all possible haste. Kirk, McCoy and Saavik beam down to Sarek and Amanda's home. Time is quickly running out for Saavik. She is having extreme difficulty holding her emotions and thoughts in check. Sarek reveals that Xon is gone. He has undertaken a secret mission of extreme importance and Sarek isn't allowed to tell anyone where he is. That is, officially, of course. Sarek surreptitiously let's some information slip concerning how Saavik may go about finding out exactly where Xon is and then leaves the room to attend to his wife who is worried sick about Spock, his body on the Genesis planet and his Katra. All of these unanswered questions are yet to be dealt with in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock-just on the horizon.
Saavik finds Xon's secret location and beams out before Kirk and McCoy can stop her.  McCoy reads through Sarek's computer and learns the prefix code to Saavik's spaceship-although he doesn't recall ever learning to read Vulcan. Interesting, eh?
Kirk and McCoy beam back to Enterprise while Saavik takes off in her own spacecraft. Everyone meets up in space.  Kirk tries to use the prefix code to lower Saavik's shields but she's already changed the code. Before the Enterprise can do anything else, Saavik's ship leaps into Warp and makes a B-line to the great barrier on the edge of the galaxy.  Enterprise pursues. Issue seven ends in a cliffhanger. Enterprise arrives at the barrier and Saavik is there waiting for them with a surprise attack!

Ok, a pretty solid issue. Plenty of mirroring events from the original television series, action, and backstory. Even though Saavik's origins aren't what I hoped for I still enjoyed this two-parter.
Originally, the adaptation for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock came immediately after this issue but for purposes of this blog we will finish the Saavik origins 2 parter and then dive into the comic adaptation to Star Trek III: The Search For Spock!

Next up, Saavik's Origin two-parter concludes with PLAK TOW! Until then, my friends, Live Long and Prosper!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Issue Six: Who is...Enigma

Issue Six: Who is... Enigma?

Another single issue story spotlighting a shapshifter hell bent on doing very bad things.

Stardate 8173.5 The peace talks between Klingon and Federation have broken down.  Ambassador Robert Fox is tasked with traveling to the planet Babel (seen in TOS episode "Journey to Babel") to negotiate a new peace plan. Of course, the good ship Enterprise is chosen to be the vessel to carry him there and protect him throughout the talks.

You may remember Robert Fox from TOS episode "A Taste of Armageddon". A brief summary of that episode, courtesy of IMDB:
"On a mission to establish diplomatic relations, Kirk and Spock beam down to the planet to learn that its inhabitants have been at war with a neighboring planet for over 500 years. They can find no damage however and no evidence of destruction. They soon learn that the war is essentially a war game where each planet attacks the other in a computer simulation with the victims voluntarily surrendering themselves for execution after the fact. When the Enterprise becomes a victim of the computer simulation and ordered destroyed, Kirk decides it's time to show them exactly what war means." Written by garykmcd   

New crew members are beamed up with Ambassador Fox and we discover right away that one amongst them, temporarily posing as an Andorian, is an imposter.  Once the shape shifter is safely aboard the Enterprise it learns where Ambassador Fox is staying and quickly assumes the shape of the Chief of Security and pays Fox a visit.
The shape shifter quickly turns itself into a weird looking space octopus that Dr. McCoy refers to as a Rigellian Decapod that's been extinct for a hundred years.

Rigellian Decapod kicking Starfleet Ass.
The security squad fend off the shape shifting assailant but it quickly escapes leaving a very addled Ambassador Fox behind. Since Admiral Kirk doesn't remember any extinct species currently serving aboard the ship he correctly deduces that a shape shifter is aboard. Kirk orders that security check the ship top to bottom in pairs.  Meanwhile, Ambassador Fox discovers a computer tape that the shape shifter left behind.  The tape turns out to be some sort of  premature announcement from the Orion Victory League declaring the death of Ambassador Fox. We learn that the mysterious shape shifter is in fact Ambassador Fox's daughter, Trisha.  Fox withholds this information from Kirk.
Click the pic to learn more about Garth of Izar courtesy of wikipedia

Elsewhere, Admiral Kirk holds a meeting with his senior staff and alerts Starfleet Command that there has been an assassination attempt on the Ambassador. Starfleet fills him in on a mysterious Orion Victory League operative known only as Enigma who has mastered the art of total cellular metamorphoses as developed by the inhabitants of Antos IV. Kirk mentions that he's familiar with the ability, that someone whom he once admired had learned the technique. Of course, he was speaking of Garth of Izar (from TOS episode "Whom Gods Destroy").
Finally, the Enterprise arrives at Babel and Ambassador Fox prepares to beam down. Mr. Scott is at the controls but Kirk is wary so he challenges Scotty with a question designed to only be answered by the real Montgomery Scott. "Queen to Queen's level 3". Scotty can't give the proper reply ("Queen to King's Level One"). Enigma morphs into a bird and flies into the transporter beam, effectively beaming her to the surface. Ambassador Fox reacts to security shooting at the shapeshifter as she makes her escape. Fox almost says a name before recovering his composure.  Kirk catches this and suspects that Ambassador Fox knows full well who his assailant is. Unfortunately, there isn't time for a lengthy questioning session as Mr. Scott is missing and indications are that he's been poisoned by Enigma when she was in the form of a Dimorian Water Rat. Unless Mr. Scott is found in 24 hours the venom from the bite will kill him.
Fox is beamed down to the surface of the planet and talks begin. Enigma, in the form of a bird watches from a distance, just waiting for an opportunity to strike at her father.
Kirk is running out of time and options. He follows up on his suspicions about Fox withholding information from him.  He finds out that Fox's daughter has had problems with her father for years and left home to join the Orion Victory League. The Orions brain washed her and turned the rift between father and daughter into something twisted and murderous.
Kirk beams down to confront Fox about his daughter and tell him about a plan he has to capture her.
Kirk and company beam away the security force protecting Robert Fox. Trisha-Enigma-decides the time is right to attack her father. Just then Kirk and crew beam in to save Fox.  Kirk has the obligatory fight with Enigma that results in her turning first into a Gorn and then-predictably-into a doppelganger for Kirk. McCoy says that he's going to inject both Kirks with Retinax-5 (which we first learned Kirk was Allergic to in Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan) and that would out the imposter. Good Kirk says go for it while bad Kirk tries to make a hasty exit.  Duplicate Kirk is put down by a Vulcan nerve pinch executed by Saavik.
McCoy injects Enigma with some muscle relaxants so she can't change shape and a truth serum so that they can find where she hid Mr. Scott. Mr. Scott is saved in the nick of time and the Klingons praise Kirk's efforts. The peace process moves forward with the help of Ambassador Fox. The adventure ends with Kirk encouraging Fox to speak with his daughter and begin the long process of mending broken fences.
This was a breezy single issue story with loads of references to Treks past. The whole shape shifter assassin thing has been done to death but it's executed satisfactorily here.  I got a kick out of 50 something Kirk doing battle with another Gorn that he couldn't defeat in hand to hand combat when he was 30 something. haha.
 Two Tricorders out of four

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Issue Five: Mortal Gods

Issue Five: Mortal Gods

A single issue adventure by Mike W. Barr (Writer), Tom Sutton and Sal Amendola (Art).
Stardate 8163.5

The war with the Klingons is over but as short lived as it was, there are casualties. The Enterprise is dispatched to find out what happened to the USS Valor and it's crew, last seen in combat with the Klingons in the Beta Epsilon system.
The search leads to the sixth planet in the system which is a "B" in the Richter scale of Culture, meaning it has no industrialization and only primitive villages.
Admiral Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Lt. Sherwood, Lt. Saavik and Ensign Bearclaw beam down outside of a village to discretely search for possible survivors of the Valor. Unfortunately, a nearby farmer loses control of his mount and the animal bolts, threatening to trample some nearby children. Ensign Bearclaw fires on the beast and alerts the farmers to their presence. They greet the Enterprise landing party as "more gods from beyond the sky".
Of course, Kirk balks at being thought of as a god and asks the peasant named Lorac to take him to see the one whom they worship.

Kirk and crew discover that the indigenous folks (who are kind of bug eyed, snout nosed rat aliens) have accepted Captain Phillip Hodges as their God. Captain Hodges explains that during the battle with the Klingons his ship the Valor was destroyed. Hodges managed to escape with others in an escape pod that was programed to take them to the closest habitable planet but he was the only member of the crew who survived the crash landing. When the Valor's escape pod made its descent to the surface it flew over a large battle being waged by General Ballor and Commander Decton. The aliens mistook the pod's landing as some sort of cosmic omen and stopped fighting. They took in Captain Hodges and cared for him.  In return, he used his advanced knowledge to further their medicine, sanitation, etc, and used Starfleet technology to ward off dangerous flying predators and the like. The aliens were so impressed by what Captain Hodges could do that they declared him a god.  Of course, all of this had the natural effect of making Hodges quite power drunk, even a bit mad.
Kirk's not happy at all with the way Captain Hodges has hoodwinked his way into godhood and immediately demands that Hodges drop his act and come back to face the consequences of his actions.  Yeah, that's not gonna happen and Hodges says so.  Then Hodges makes a veiled threat that anyone who opposes him will meet a quick and unfortunate death at the hands of his loyal subjects. He sends Kirk away for the night to mull his precarious situation over.
Meanwhile, not everyone is sunshine and roses over Hodges supreme control. Commander Decton and General Ballor are anxious to get back to being sworn enemies instead of forced allies.  Commander Decton has a plan...
General Ballor kills a guard and sneaks into the palace. He finds Captain Hodges and kidnaps him.  Captain Hodges wife Lylla finds a piece of blood stained clothing and gives it to Admiral Kirk.  Kirk and company set out to find out what's happened to Captain Hodges with Ensign Bearclaw acting as tracker. 

General Ballor  whisks Captain Hodges away to an unknown location and reveals to him that the one time god was gonna have a new career as martyr so that the two opposing factions could get back to killing each other.
Elsewhere, Commander Decton wastes no time inciting the masses against Ballor. Admiral Kirk happens by on his search and tells Commander Decton to knock it off.  Kirk leaves Lt. Sherwood with the group to make sure that Decton doesn't start with more tirades. Decton isn't much phased by this turn of events and simply waits for Admiral Kirk to continue on his way before punching Lt. Sherwood out. He takes her phaser and declares that he who wields the weapons of the gods are as powerful as the gods. Decton and his group catch up to and ambush Admiral Kirks bunch with a few laser bolts and a whole lotta arrows. Kirk and company easily repel the attack and then they find the secret location where Captain Hodges is being held by General Ballor.
Ballor tries to cut the Federation captain's throat but Lylla interferes and is stabbed for her efforts.  Ensign Bearclaw shoots and kills General Ballor. Decton's forces arrive. Decton is killed by Lt. Saavik and his forces immediately surrender. Dr. McCoy takes the gravely injured Lylla aboard the Enterprise for surgery.
Captain Hodges feels responsible for what has happened to his wife and comes to his senses.  He tells Kirk he wishes to leave the planet but he doesn't know how to do it.  Kirk says he has a plan.
Captain Hodges assembles his faithful and announces to them that the gods beyond the sky are summoning him home and he must leave. Amid cries of "no" and "don't leave us" a giant hologram appears (courtesy of some Enterprise trickery and Konom in a funny costume) and says, yes, Hodges time is finished he needs to leave.  Hodges declares Lorac King or leader in his absence and then Hodges is beamed out.
Hodges admits to his wife that he's just a man and not a god. Lylla replies that she knew that from the start.  Saavik is troubled that Kirk let the aliens believe they were gods. Kirk replies that he didn't force any particular belief on the aliens, that he allowed them to make their own choice in the end.

A Few Thoughts...
I don't care for the cover art for this issue.  Star Trek really has a thing with ginormous people, doesn't it? Remember in The Squire of Gothos when Trelane stopped the Enterprise with his giant hand floating in space? Remember when Adonis from Who Mourns For Adonis grew to be like a 1000 feet tall? Remember last issue when the Excalibans and the Organians grew so large that one could see them stomping around in space? Just a weird thought. haha.

  Something wrong with that klingon...

Ok, this is probably just me but I found this panel really weird. Dr. McCoy is running tests on Konom to see why he hates violence. Isn't that like running tests on why someone likes vanilla ice cream instead of chocolate?

There are several instances in this issue where people just whip out their phasers and go to blasting anybody that moves. Granted, Kirk and crew are under attack but...whatever happened to set phasers to stun?

Lastly, this issue suffered from some confusion between General Ballor and Commander Decton.  In one scene General Ballor is inside a tunnel menacing Captain Hodges. In the next scene he shows up outside of the cave. It should have been Commander Decton that showed up outside the cave with the militia.  In another scene Commander Decton is referred to as Dector.  Strange.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Issue Four: Deadly Allies

Star Trek Issue 4

Last time in the pages of DC's STAR TREK...

Against direct orders from Starfleet, Admiral Kirk and company travel to the planet Organia to see why the Organians haven't interceded in an alarming declaration of war by the Klingons. Enterprise finds Organia shrouded in a mysterious black void-and the Klingons waiting for them. Enterprise and the Klingons exchange hostilities and then the Excalibans reveal themselves and warn human and Klingons alike to let the drama proceed...

Chapter four serves to bring Star Trek's first four part story arc to a resolution. This issue is heavy on the exposition (mainly for the benefit of new or more casual fans with hazy memories of the who, what and why of the original episodes of  "The Savage Curtain" and "Errand of Mercy"). There aren't many surprises here but this debut arc shows that it has respect for the Star Trek cannon, is going to give us plenty of action while not forgetting smaller character driven moments, and is willing to broaden the Star Trek canvas a bit with new and interesting characters who are integral to the overall story. Let's look a little closer..

So, those pesky Excalibans are at it again with their quest to find out once and for all which is the ultimate power in the universe: Good or Evil. This time, however, the rocky creatures with winky blinky eyes want the scale of their drama to be a little larger-like on a stage the size of the galaxy instead of just with a handful of individuals.  Only problem with that is those darn Organians stubbornly enforcing the peace.  Solution? The Excalibans pay the Organians a surprise visit and kazaam them into some sort of super stasis field before they can assume their true non-corporal shape and fight back.  Then, the Excalibans finished their attack by blanketing the Organians world in some sort of super power wet blanket.
Now free to conduct their experiments without interruption the Excalibans possess representatives from Starfleet and the Klingon Empire and stoke up their existing prejudices, misconceptions, hatreds and so on and then let individuals baser desires take its course. Well, Kirk has played this game before-literally, and this time he has a brand new plan!

Kirk convinces Kor and the other Klingons aboard his ship to join forces so that together they can stop the Excalibans destructive drama. Human and Klingon work together to outfit a shuttle to pierce the weird black field enveloping Organia and hopefully set the Organians free.
Of course, working together for sworn enemies isn't a piece of cake.  Poor Konom starts a riot when he tries to visit some of the Klingon "guests" aboard the Enterprise. Konom's actions aboard the Klingon station are now common knowledge among the Klingons and he's condemned as a traitor and outcast by Kor himself. The Klingons despise Konom as much as some of the Enterprise crew. So, Konom is firmly established as an individual without a country, so to speak. He's very isolated now and in my mind reflects how Mr. Spock must have felt in the early days of his Starfleet career.  Above we see one of the few character moments from this issue that shows Konoms plight and his budding relationship with Nancy Bryce.

Speaking of character moments-there's a very humorous one between Kirk and Kor and Dr. McCoy as seen below:

Ok, so finally Kirk frees the Organians and persuades the Excalibans that if they really want to know which is stronger good or evil that they need to get their own hands dirty and PARTICIPATE in the struggle instead of watching from the sidelines.  And who better to square off against than a race who could match their awesome powers.  Say, like...the Organians! The Excalibans mull this over for a bit and decide that Kirk has an intriguing idea. The Organians, strangely enough, seem to go with this idea as well. Perhaps its just a matter of self defense but they're quick to rise to the challenge...REALLY...rise to the challenge as both sides immediately grow to truly cosmic proportions while Organia comes apart under the forces of the two super races battling it out!  Kirk and crew get the hell outta Dodge as quick as they can.  In the Enterprise's wake the two opposing forces wink out of existence. Or, appear to do so.

Kirk is understandably glad to be rid (?) of both races, at least for the time being.  Kirk's not a man to rest in the arms of renegade super-beings and says so. The adventure is over and the Enterprise leaps into warp speed ....


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Issue Three: Errand of War

The Story So Far...
Admiral Kirk and company are assigned to figure out why and how the Klingons are making hit and run incursions along the Klingon Neutral Zone.  Kirk discovers a hidden wormhole that is harboring a Klingon battlestation. Kirk collapses the wormhole, exposing the Klingons. They self-destruct when its apparent that their mission has failed. Shortly afterwards, the Klingon Emporer Kahless IV declares war on the Federation for Kirk's actions...
And so now we're ready for issue 3!

As soon as Kahless IV ends his transmission we see that he's acting against his own will.  It appears that he's being possessed or controlled by....

Do you know who it is? Long time fans of the tv series, those of us who've watched the original 79 episodes over and over and over through the years will no doubt recognize the possessor as an Excaliban. Others may need a little filling in.  The Excalibans were featured in the episode "The Savage Curtain". Check that out, and then combined with the hints sprinkled throughout this issue it'll be readily apparent what's going on here.
Kirk is mighty puzzled by the Klingons pronouncement of war.  Specifically why in blazes the Organians have done NOTHING to curb the hostilities and re-impose the order they forced on both sides to begin with.  Kirk rings up Grand Admiral Stephen Turner to confirm what he's just seen and heard.
Turner not only confirms that war has been declared but then he gives Kirk a Holy WTF! moment by commanding him to go guard the Federation side of the ROMULAN Neutral Zone! Kirk protests, wanting instead to B-line it to Organia to see what's going on.  Turner pointedly shoots that idea out of the water and sends Kirk on his way. When the discussion between Turner and Kirk is over we see that the same alien forces that are pulling the Klingon's strings are also pulling the Federation's strings.
Meanwhile, aboard the Enterprise, we find that Konom the wounded Klingon deserter from the last issue and Ensign Bryce have developed an unlikely friendship during Konom's recovery.  Bryce gives Konom a tour of one of the Enterprises Botanical gardens.We discover that Ensign Bryce's first name is Nancy.  It becomes readily apparent that she is a romantic interest for Konom and someone with whom he can discover the nature of his true self. This is all fine and dandy for them but it causes quite a nasty stir with other members of the crew, particularly with Ensign Bearclaw who decides to do something about it.

Back in Kirk's quarters he and Bones are talking over a drink about the current Klingon/Federation war. Kirk feels that something is entirely out of place, that he should be going to Organia and sorting it all out with them.  Bones asks what's stopping Kirk from following his instincts....surely not "orders".  Besides, when has that ever stopped him before? Kirk hardily agrees.  Kirk tells Sulu to make for Organia with all possible haste.  Just then, Grand Admiral Turner sends a propaganda video to be shown ship-wide on the Enterprise of a Klingon incursion on a small Federation outpost.

Many of the crew wig out at this news and focus their anger on Konom and Nancy Bryce. It nearly starts a riot.  Konom and Nancy are running for their lives when security show up to save the day!

Meanwhile, the Enterprise shows up at Organia to find that the planet is either NOT there or else it's being blanketed by some as yet unknown technology or force. Shortly after the Enterprise's arrival 2 Klingon Battle Cruisers appear and a skirmish ensues.  Admiral Kirk gets the upper hand and beams the survivors from the one remaining Klingon Battle Cruiser aboard the Enterprise. He is confronted by his old foe Captain Kor (Who has undergone the whole "bumpy forehead" upgrade that Klingons have sported since Star Trek The Motion Picture). Kirk and Kor exchange a few barbs and accusations before both finally get down to business.  The Federation has been fed a line of propaganda about Klingons and the Klingons have been fed propaganda against the Federation. Kor has been sent to guard Organia from the Federation while Admiral Kirk has been given explicit orders to stay AWAY from Organia. The two old adversaries at last agree that something is waaaay out of kilter. It's at this moment that the Excaliban shows up and tells Kirk and Kor that the drama must continue or both will meet a swift demise!  Stay tuned next post for issue four as the story continues with UNLIKELY ALLIES.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Issue Two: ...The Only Good Klingon...


Ok, so picking up directly after Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, Admiral Kirk is once again assigned asCaptain of the Enterprise. Starfleet dispatches Enterprise and company to the Klingon Neutral Zone where there have been several Klingon hit and run attacks.  The Enterprise itself is attacked and barely avoids being destroyed.  During the heat of battle an odd signal is sent from one of the Klingon Battle cruisers. The signal turns out to be a wormhole flux signature.  Kirk and company investigate further by modifying a shuttle and a few space suits to enter the wormhole and discover what the Klingons are up to.  Kirk and company are astonished to find within a huge Klingon battle station.

Chapter II: ...The Only Good Klingon...takes up the story with Lt. Saavik piloting a shuttlecraft through the wormhole to distract the Klingons while Admiral Kirk and Ensign Bryce give the battlestation a closer look.
Elsewhere, aboard the Enterprise Scotty is struggling to bring the damaged engines and weapons back online so that the Enterprise can defend itself against another attack.
Lt. Saavik leads a squad of Klingons on a merry chase through the wormhole.  Kirk and Bryce enter the station through an airlock as one of the enemy ships deploys to go after Saavik. Kirk wonders how the Klingons are getting away with their aggressions against Starfleet since the Organian Peace Treaty has been in effect for some sixteen years (Watch the original Star Trek tv series episode "Errand of Mercy" to learn how the Organian Peace Treaty came about!).
Once on the Klingon station Kirk and Bryce go about finding out how to collapse the wormhole or make it unstable so that the Klingons can't hide or attack from it anymore.
Meanwhile, Captain Koloth of the Klingons begins to suspect that there's something extremely odd about his crewman Konom.  Konom worries that his aversion to violence and war and that whole thing has been discovered. Koloth dispatches a few of his officers to follow Konom and monitor his activities.
It doesn't take long for Konom to stumble on to Kirk and Bryce.  A phaser fight breaks out during which Konom tries to explain to Kirk that "there is something wrong with me!", that he abhores the Klingon way of violence and barbarism and that in fact, he is the one who sent the signal out to alert Kirk and company of the hidden wormhole. Konom is eventually wounded by phaser fire.
Meanwhile, Lt. Saavik has ditched her shuttle and became a prisoner of the Klingons. She makes a bold escape and manages to hook back up with Kirk's party. They plant some explosives on the device making the wormhole stable and then use the Klingons transporter to get back to the Enterprise.
McCoy goes into surgery on Konom while Kirk prepares to face off with the Klingons-but, as they usually do-the Klingons have other plans-like blowing themselves and their exposed battle station to smithereens instead of facing defeat at Kirk's hands.
Meanwhile Konom pulls through surgery and Ensign Bryce is left to stand at his bedside and wonder what to do with her hatred of Klingons now that she's discovered one that goes against her stereotyping.
The issue ends with the Klingon Emperor Kahless IV declaring war on the federation for the "savage agressive acts" of James T. Kirk.


Issue two ratchets up the action/adventure nicely. The plot is solid but fairly Star Trek standard.  Evil Klingons doing evil, underhanded things while Admiral Kirk and crew works against time and the odds to foil their plans. However, DC Star Trek knew and understand their core fans-and what things to do to really please them.  I'm talking about the small (and sometimes not so small) character moments-where the penciled characters acted, reacted, and interacted with their environments and with each other like their television counterparts.
This issue, as I've said, had it's lion's share of action scenes but I would like to point out all of the little things-character moments and such that made this title such a favorite of mine.

Beginning with supporting players and working our way up we see...

that Ensign Bearclaw is holding a hard grudge against the Klingons and ensign Bryce for what happened to his father on the Gallant.  It's easy to make 2nd string Star Trek characters into nothing more than redshirts who fail to die quickly, but writer Mike W. Barr has avoided that trap. With every panel he starts adding dimensions to his 2nd line characters.

Bryce ends up with a lot of page time in the first two issues. Most of that is her actions as an inexperienced officer. To the left here is a panel from a discussion between her and Kirk after she's frozen at a critical junction.  Its standard fare but it gives an opportunity to see how Kirk relates impersonally to his crew and it also shows that not everyone aboard the Enterprise is a super experienced, nearly indestructible and virtually unfallable.(Incidentally, the time Kirk mentions in the above panel was shown in the Original Series episode "Obsession").

...Konom is a very strange Klingon, indeed! He hates needless violence, the "glories" of war, and barbarism for barbarisms sake.  Back when this series started I remember being dubious about Konom but I was willing to give him a chance.

Then, there were the main cast's character moments sprinkled through issue 2...  The Panel below hearkens back to the climax of Star Trek II when Mr. Spock mind melds with an unconscious Dr. McCoy and simply says, "Remember!"  Remember what, McCoy muses. Will we ever find out? How tantalizing! :)
 This next panel also features Dr. McCoy having an exchange with Mr. Sulu about Mr. Spock. When this issue was released Star Trek III was still months away and McCoys comment was very poignant. 

Finally, we have a moment where Sulu voices the thoughts of many fans (me being one of them) at the time: GIVE SULU A FREAKIN' STARSHIP TO COMMAND! That would have been so cool on screen as a television series.

Well, that wraps up issue 2 of  DC's Star Trek! Come back next post for Chapter III: Errand of War!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Issue One: The Wormhole Connection

DC Comics Star Trek Issue 1 (Feb. 84)  takes up immediately after the events portrayed in Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan. The crew, and particularly Admiral Kirk are still grieving the loss of Captain Spock. Spock of course, died saving the ship from the Genesis Torpedo launched by Khan. Spock's body is presumed to be resting on the newly formed Genesis Planet. Dr. Carol Marcus, a former flame of Admiral Kirk and their son David have returned to their research on space station Regula One and the crew of the Reliant have been dispatched for duty rotation and sick leave. Checkov is once again assigned to the Enterprise as weapons officer and Lt. Saavik steps into the position of Science Officer.  
The issue opens on Stardate 8141.5 with the USS Gallant under the command of Captain Bearclaw patrolling the Neutral Zone between Federation and Klingon space where there have been major violations of the Organian Peace Treaty by the Klingons .
Without warning, and seemingly from nowhere four Klingon Battle Cruisers appear and viciously attack the Gallant.  The Gallant is no match for the onslaught.  The ship is destroyed rather easily and then as quickly as they appeared the warships disappear again.
The attack on the Gallant gives us our first look at Konom-a peace loving Klingon who doesn't share his comrades love of violence and blood and guts glory for glory's sake. More on him later.
 After the Gallant's destruction the story moves on to a meeting between Admiral Kirk and Grand Admiral Turner.  Kirk wants to become permanent Captain of the Enterprise.  Kirk's realized that being Captain of the Enterprise is his "first, best destiny" and he doesn't want to let go of the Enterprise again.  Admiral Turner agrees. Kirk beams aboard as Captain of the ship. All of the "old hands" are back in their familiar places minus Mr. Spock and it's time for the Enterprise to swing back into action. Starfleet dispatches the Enterprise to the Neutral Zone in an effort to quail the Klingon insurgency.
On the way to the Neutral Zone we are introduced to Ensign Bryce who is the daughter of one of the bridge crew from the doomed USS Gallant.  Bryce has a chance encounter with another Ensign-Ensign Bearclaw who's father was also stationed aboard the Gallant as its Captain. Bearclaw blames Bryce for the destruction of the Gallant.  The two break out into a fist fight that Admiral Kirk happens into. He breaks the pair up and lays the law down about how he expects crew to behave on the Enterprise.  It's clear that we'll be seeing some interesting interaction between Bryce and Bearclaw in the future.
Once at the Neutral Zone, Admiral Kirk does a little "fishing" for the Klingons.  He is not disappointed. Out of nowhere four Klingon battle cruisers show up and start dishing out the punishment to the Enterprise.  Kirk is ready for them and manages to fend off their attack.  The Klingons retreat but not before Konom, the strange Klingon with a conscious sends out a strange signal...
Meanwhile, Kirk has some issues with Lt. Saavik.  He doesn't think she's doing her job very well. 
Saavik doesn't know how to handle Kirk's criticisms, which she believes are mostly unfair.  She seeks out Dr. McCoy and asks him for advice. McCoy sympathizes with the Lt. but tells her to basically "buck up".  He asks if confiding in him has helped her any and she tells him "no". It's a humorous moment.  McCoy then goes to Kirk and gently reminds him that Spock is gone and no one will be able to fill his shoes. Kirk promises to give Saavik a fair shake.
Later in a staff briefing Saavik brings up the strange signal she intercepted during the Klingon attack.  Scotty identifies the signal as a wormhole signiture. Kirk and Scotty deduce that the Klingons are traveling through a wormhole of their own making, making it appear as if the Klingons are materializing out of nothingness. Scotty rigs the transporter and a shuttlecraft for a look-see into the Klingon wormhole.  Kirk and ensign Bryce materialize inside the wormhole to see...

A Klingon space station with a whole hell of a lot of fire power!!!

 Writer Mike W. Barr's handle on Star Trek was pitch perfect. Not only did he provide believable interpretations of our beloved Enterprise crew but he also introduced several new characters into the mix that felt like genuine characters and not throwaway cardboard cutouts. Bryce and Bearclaw and Konom and the rest gave our aging crew a graceful blood transfusion.
This new iteration of Star Trek would mix believable character moments with the mandatory action/adventure aspect of the show.  Issue one made it clear that DC Trek was going to make efforts to be as thought provoking and humanistic as the television show.  And, that my friends is a good thing.
I enjoyed the whole subplot this issue with Saavik trying to take over for Mr. Spock and yet make the position uniquely her own.
Konom, a good Klingon?? The thought was pretty radical. Remember, this was a few years before the introduction of Worf in the Next Generation.
Bryce and Bearclaw were interesting new characters. I was excited to see their stories develop.