I’m really impressed by Mike Johnson and Tony Shasteen’s work on IDW’s Star Trek: Boldly Go. As a die-hard fan of the franchise love so much, it’s clear they given me new reason to love the cinematic version of Star Trek.
No, I mean it – they’ve taken on the sensitive ground of extending the Kelvin Timeline into a something that actually grows on me. They’ve instilled within this version of Trek a natural sense of progression, and this organic growth works.
Johnson has created a real sense of relationship among all the crew members. The first movie didn’t have this sense as the characters and the audience were all being re-introduced to them.
We had to go through this artificiality of pretending that we didn’t know these characters and had to affect a degree of surprise at mannerisms or behaviour that we knew all too well, or were to accept any changes with a sense of acceptance.
The last two films did little to reinforce those bonds, which is a disadvantage to cinema. If ‘the-powers-that-be’ wanted to really reboot TOS, then a new television show would have given them the chance to introduce the natural, transitional changes that Shasteen and Johnson are able to bring to bear in their book.
In a way, this comic is doing it right.
- George Caltsoudas’s primary cover is a stylized version of the Borg rather than a more exact one that we are used to. It’s not my cup of tea, but there’s no doubt that he manages to convey the dark sense of foreboding and terror that this race represents. Let’s face it: the Borg are probably the most fearsome and memorable foe that has ever been created for this franchise.Though Johnson might be criticized for “jumping the gun” a little in introducing them to this renewed version of the original series, I do enjoy how he manages to route that back to the original timeline anomaly that started this diverted version of Star Trek. If we can understand that, then there’s room for Caltsoudas’s interpretation of the Borg.
- Tony Shasteen’s B-variant cover is another in the series of profile pieces of the command crew’s transfer orders to the USS Endeavour; this time, it’s Leonard McCoy. I love these. They’re solid works of art but they’re also a subtle manifestation of the story line of this book. I really want to see the complete piece as a whole. I think I’ll be sending Mr. Shasteen some of my wife’s orange-flavoured, chocolate tipped shortbread cookies this holiday season as a bribe.
- The third in the cover variants is a gorgeous shot of Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, played by Zoe Saldana. It’s a lovely piece of photography, and while I appreciate the skill that went into this shot – as well as the subject – I just feel that a comic cover should be drawn. I want to see more of Shasteen’s work or J.K. Woodward – another excellent Trek artist.For that matter, why can’t John Byrne draw some more excellent Trek work? IDW as some awesome talent at its disposal for this franchise.
- The final cover variant is the paper doll series and it’s of Lieutenant Uhura as well. While I’m not usually disposed to playing dress-up dolls, I think this is an area that I could probably investigate more, in the interests of spending some valuable playtime with my youngest daughter. I could also kindle an interest in Star Trek… yeah, that’s why my wife is rolling her eyes at me.
Johnson has gifted the crew of the Enterprise – now the Endeavour, with a real sense of team identity. They have a closer sense of relationship – Nyota Uhura jokes with Kirk about Spock’s lack of surprise at Kirk’s decision-making; they feel Sulu’s pain at his missing family members, and Shasteen even manages to pencil relaxed expressions on their face, visibly reinforcing this notion.
Unlike their cinematic counterparts, there’s a real sense of unity in this crew. I think that’s why I like Johnson and Shasteen’s rendition of the Kelvin Timeline better than the actual film.
In short, Johnson and Shasteen are doing a wonderful job with this extension into the franchise. They have taken the traditional elements of Trek and successfully merged them into the Kelvin Timeline. Sarah Gaydos has a good team here and this is a book with controversial fan emotions (ie: the Trek purists vs. Trek evolutionists) and synthesized something that all lovers of Trek can get behind.
If there’s a way for the Kelvin Timeline to work, IDW has definitely made it work under these folks.