Our Trek Comics editor Patrick Hayes returns with a review of this month's issue of IDW Publishing's Star Trek photobook comic series New Visions.
The Enterprise is aflame as it plummets to some unseemly fate, long before the events of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Surrounding this frightening image are snapshots of Kirk, McCoy, Spock, and Scotty looking worried. Yes, even Spock looks concerned.
In the upper right corner is a shot of the bridge crew under harsh yellow-red light, an obvious effect of the heat radiating through the ship's shields. A small rectangular box teases an extra story featuring Janice Rand.
As excited as I am by the dramatic imagery of this cover by John Byrne, the chance to read a story that focuses on this "gone too soon" character has me anxious to see what Mr. Byrne has in store for her. Grade: A.
Time's Echo opens with Deep Space Monitor Station 18's staff trying to convince Commander Resnick to contact the Enterprise, as they've found a very confusing message coming from a very confusing location. The flagship of the Federation arrives and Kirk, McCoy, Spock, Scotty, and Uhura get to work trying to make sense of the message. This premise quickly blossoms into something beyond what the characters or readers would expect.
John Byrne boldly goes where no writer has gone before. Just when you think you've seen and read it all for Star Trek, and, yes, I have those moments, he makes this franchise shine. Having not watched an original series episode in months, this book makes me realize how much I enjoy Kirk working out a problem with his command crew.
Hearing Sulu and McCoy chime in after Spock's analysis, Page 8, was something that could have gone on longer and it would have pleased me to no end. The initial discovery on Page 12 won't surprise any fan, but what is slowly revealed to have occurred is gold. Things take a surprising turn on 18, and escalate in the fifth panel on 19. There is a slick transition between the second and third panels on 21 that introduces an individual that takes the story in a new direction.
The reveal on 31 is great; it had me cheering. I admit to being nervous at the action that begins at the bottom of 35 and, once again, Byrne switches the danger to something else entirely on Page 38. This is what I love about this story: it doesn't settle for the predictable thrills. It does what all stories should do--keep readers wondering what's next for our heroes. After reading Star Trek stories in various media over several decades it's such a pleasure to get something new that's so good.
And speaking of new, there is a short story focusing on Rand titled "Sweet Sorrow." I cannot reveal any part of it without ruining it, but if you're a Trek fan this is must reading. Two famous supporting crew members appear that are worth the price of the cover alone. The final page will make your heart skip a beat. Grade: A+.
The entire photonovel is composed of captured and composite images from original series episodes. There are also several new characters. At least, I believe they're new. I can't recall ever seeing Resnick before, or the female in the fourth panel on Page 1. If these characters are new, I would love to know who the actors are that John Byrne got to pose for this story. It's exciting to think that present day actors can be in classic Trek.
The original crew has been brought to life perfectly for the scenes they're performing in: I love Sulu's pose on Page 8, panel four; McCoy in panel five of Page 22; 31's reveal; Chekov at the bottom of 38; and Kirk's final shot, matching the dialogue beautifully.
There are also several new settings that Byrne had to create for this tale. The Deep Space Monitor Station looks completely in line with anything that would have appeared on the television series. Page 7's exterior shot is amazing, with just enough threat in its look. The computer graphic at the top of 11 was spot on 1960's futuristic.
The interior on 21 was devastating, and took a fun turn on 24. The Enterprise burning up will have any Trek fan breathing quickly. The Rand story had me gasping on Pages 41 and 43. Page 44 has probably the most powerful nine panels ever created for a Trek book.
Finally, regarding the lettering -- dialogue, the classic opening introduction, the Captain's log, and key sounds are delivered in fine fashion by John Byrne. Grade: A+.
With Time's Echo, this series continues to be the best thing to happen to Star Trek since the original crew began to make films. Another lost episode to remind everyone why Star Trek endures. Highest possible recommendation. Grade: A+.
- Reviewed by Comics Editor Patrick Hayes
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