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 U.S.S. Enterprise, four leads in environmental suits, a rock face that might be made of tentacles, a never before seen robot, and the Doomsday Machine (!!!) all placed to give a taste of two of the stories to be found within this month’s issue. Nice collage, making me more than happy to see those classy environmental suits, but this is a pretty dark cover.
The background is space, which is a natural for this series, but the rocks, the crew, and the Doomsday Machine really glob up together. Only the maw of the machine and the Enterprise stand out. Grade: B+.
There are two in this issue, so readers are getting more than their money’s worth from John Byrne, as far as I’m concerned.
The first tale is “Cry Vengeance.” This twenty-eight-page story opens just after the Doomsday Machine has been neutralized. Kirk and Spock share a moment discussing how Matthew Decker will stand in the captain’s log, and how Kirk hopes there aren’t any more weapons wandering about the universe.
Time passes, and the Enterprise returns to the machine to carry out a technical inspection before the arrival of a science team.The crew learns a little in their scans before the U.S.S. Darwin arrives. Data (information, not the android) from the Enterprise is transmitted to the ship and the crew leaves the Darwin to its duties. That’s when something happens.
This is a solid sequel to the classic Trek episode, with several surprises. I’m always pleased when writers can add something smoothly to a previous adventure, and Byrne does so here. There are several neat revelations, such as on Pages 14 (with a fantastic line from Spock at the bottom), 16, 22, 24, and 28, ending, again, with the perfect coda from Kirk.
I really like Scotty’s contributions to the tension, as it’s not often that he was heard speaking in such a way to his captain. Plus, how could a Trek fan not like a story with a Chekov scream? The backstory to the episode was very cool, and anytime this is done well I’m a very happy camper. Grade: A+.
The second tale is titled “Robot,” and is a nice tense mystery from Bryne. Whenever I see or hear of a robot in classic Trek my spider sense starts tingling, as most artificial life does a lot to harm humans. This story is only thirteen pages long, but if that’s all that was in this issue I would have been more than satisfied.
Rather than give my normal four page summary of the story, I’m just going to go two pages in. The Enterprise is stopping at Starbase 10 to pick up a Doctor Ursula Becker and “her most unusual cargo.” Mister Kyle is handling the beam up and is a bit nervous as he and the Doctor “knew each other…in a past life.”
This tasty little bit of foreshadowing is dismissed by Kirk, who makes a comment that’s a little more than ironic. Becker arrives and reveals ALEX — Autonomous Labor Experimental Unit One — to the captain and his staff. This story is a winner just for the increased dimension it gives to Kyle, who never saw this much time in any episode or film.
He is a complete character for the first time and his backstory is dynamite. And “dynamite” is the right word before things blow up, right with ALEX in the middle of them. I was utterly pleased that Byrne has the crew ask all the right questions about ALEX, including mentioning M-5 from “The Ultimate Computer.”
Some nice moments in this included Page 33 (great Kirk and Becker dialogue), all of 35, ALEX’s comments on 39, 41’s terrific climax, and Spock’s beautiful coda on 42. This is Star Trek. Grade: A+.
There are beautiful shots of everyone’s favorites (Kirk at the top of 6, the command at the bottom of 13, the concern at the bottom of 30, and the caution on 33; Spock on 5, the irrational reveal on 11, and the bottom of 14; McCoy on 16, 28, and 30; Scotty on 12 and 19; Chekov on 8, 15, and 18).
Special note must be made of Chekov’s hair, as odd this would seem to sound. I have no idea what episodes Byrne pulled the images of Chekov from for the first tale, but he did one heck of job in finding, or manipulating, pictures so that the Davy Jones mop top is consistent. I was really impressed by that on my second read through.
In addition to these favorites, there are several new additions to the Trek visual canon that are impressive. The most startling are the shots of the bridge crew being hit by a weapon in the first tale. I was expecting the usual, picture slants and actors jump to the side visual, but Byrne goes in a new and powerful direction. I was afraid the ship would shake apart.
There is also the appearance of something that begins on Page 16. This is also very impressive and I would love to know how this image was created, but don’t want to look behind the wizard’s curtain to have it spoiled. Suffice to say, it’s beautiful.
In the second story there are the additions of Doctor Decker and ALEX. Decker is gorgeous, as befitting any woman aboard the Enterprise, but her costume also deserves discussion. It is perfectly in synch with what was produced for women on the show. It looks futuristic but also right out of the 1960s. A fabulous outfit!
ALEX is unlike anything ever seen in Star Trek. It is not the typical flesh-covered machination that populated various episodes and I was happy to see its look. The fifth panel on Page 41 is a brilliant image. Grade: A+.
New Visions #3 is another must-have issue that will thrill fans to no end and encourage new ones to check out this television series that refuses to go away. Thank God John Byrne loves Star Trek! Grade: A+.
– Reviewed by Comics Editor Patrick Hayes
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