Sometimes what’s missing from Star Trek is a good, old-fashioned donnybrook.

Don’t get me wrong: I know Star Trek is not about militarism. As much as any fan, I’m given to seeing the positive values that it represents and hope for as our society progresses. But … phasers! And photon torpedoes … and now the Manhunters from DC Comics are attacking the Enterprise and, well, I just wanna see some fun.

And that’s what Mike Johnson and Angel Hernandez have provided for us in this third entry of the fanciful crossover of epic proportions, and it IS fun … regardless of what canonical Trek purists might say.

For me, the convocation of my two favourite fandoms – Star Trek and comics – coming together in a glorious fantastical maelstrom is something that I can’t afford to pass up. Of course, neither should you, if you enjoy these genres as much as I do. But the key to understanding how much fun it is, is in the inter-relationships that Johnson manages to meld between these two properties.

For example, there’s an easy-going understanding between Captain Kirk and Hal Jordan. Both are the recognized leaders of their respective factions and Johnson makes this known with the dialogue between the two characters. When the manhunters threaten to overrun the Enterprise, there’s a tacit recognition that if Jordan can’t handle them, then Kirk will have to step in. Johnson’s dialogue illustrates this relationship – their similar sense of prioritization and both are okay with the consequences their respective decisions may bring.

It’s a seamless and ideal sort of partnership and it makes the story flow.

Another cool – and unexpected – example of what I’m talking about is in the developing amorous relationship between everybody’s favourite warp engineer, Montgomery Scott, and Star Sapphire (aka Carol Ferris). First of all, everyone who’s read their Green Lantern lore knows that the primal energy behind the Star Sapphire powers is love; they need to love, and given that Carol Ferris is the president of an avionics engineering corporation, it makes sense that the object of her affection is a nearby Scottish engineering genius.

It’s another one of relationships that are entertaining in their form, make for an interesting an easier flowing story.  Only someone with knowledge of both franchises would be able to pull that off.

But there’s also the unpredictable outcomes that Johnson manages to illustrate for us that really make this comic an entertaining read. Who could have predicted Sinestro as the new Emperor of the Klingon Empire and Larfleeze as his Number Two? Or Khan Noonien Singh in possession of Atrocitus’s own red ring of rage? It’s unexpected yet workable within the frameworks of both franchises, explaining why this book is such fun to read.

Johnson discovers these connections and makes them work. How? That’s a good question and one that I’m dying to ask him as is this a facet of his experience with comics and with Trek, or is this simply natural storytelling? Whatever the reason, it’s pretty easy to dismiss and accept his talent with the results. It successfully draws upon the most apparent features of these two franchises and create s a damn fun comic to read.

If you’ve been following the book, then you’ll remember that Hal Jordan and company discovered the remnants of an ancient Manhunter on an abandoned planetoid while also encountering Sinestro and his allies. In the meantime, John Stewart, Guy Gardner (one of my all-time favourite comic-reliefs) and Kilowog on board another starship attempt to intercept Atrocitus, who has met his own opposition in the form of none other than Khan Noonien Singh and his small army of Augments.

Yeah – that’s a mix for Johnson to throw at us!

In this issue, and trying not to give too much away, In the initial first pages we see the Enterprise under attack by a cadre of Manhunters. While Jordan tries to halt their attack by invoking the laws of Oa, a more successful defence is arranged by Spock who adjusts the ship’s tractor beam to a narrow focus, effectively acting as a stasis field. This first scene is a wonderful example of Johnson’s blending of the two properties: Jordan’s impulsiveness and Spock’s rational and cool assessment and response to the situation. In the first moments of the book, Johnson’s fluency with both franchises is immediately apparent.

Johnson frequently switches scenes in this issue. While Kirk, Jordan and company are dealing with the Manhunters’ attack on the Enterprise, we also have to keep tabs on Sinestro and Larfleeze back on the Klingon homeworld. Sinestro also has to deal with the shared problem of diminishing rings and takes a very innovative approach.

Of course, this means that Larfleeze has to undergo a major sacrifice but avails himself of Klingon hospitality in an attempt to placate himself. Then, we quickly change forums once again and the trio of Green Lanterns encounter Atrocitus and Khan with a very engaging result.

Again, trying not reveal too much – it’s just something that you’ll have to read.

  • Turning our attention to the covers, the regular cover is definitely the most story-referential one out of the three and is a great choice to pick as the primary one. Angel Hernandez delivers this cover and does a bang-up job of showing the struggle of the diminished ring-bearers trying to assert themselves in this new universe. A wonderful piece, filled with action and intensity and totally matches the tempo of the book.
  • I wasn’t too keen on the ‘artist’s editor’ cover by Sandra Lanz. It seemed very stylized and the images of Kirk and Hal Jordan in his Green Lantern persona were very slender and unrecognizable. Tony Shasteen and J.K. Woodward are very talented with regards to likenesses and Angel Hernandez is no slouch in this department.

    In other reviews, I’ve mentioned the importance of maintaining character identification when working with properties like these that have established likenesses. Lanz’s cover presents interpretational versions of these characters and while I hate to seem like I’m stomping on her expressiveness, it just doesn’t fit the nature of a book like this. But I have to also add that’s just my opinion and not a criticism of Lanz’s talent.
  • Aaron Harvey’s retailer incentive cover is an example of successful stylized art. This is a very striking design and though generic in nature, it communicates an emotional message of fearlessness which is well in tune with the nature of the Green Lantern Corps. It is fairly simple in concept, but simplicity and genericism make this a strong and very appropriate cover. It works … and at the end of the day, a success is what you want to see. To a comic reader, it has an acceptable commercial appeal.

But there’s your action and fun. Johnson and Hernandez get my full respect for this story. We’re only into the third issue of this second volume, and now that we’ve had the chance to get a good fight out of our systems, there’s a great deal more storytelling we can look forward to discovering.

Of course, both Khan and Sinestro will clearly cause some more combative encounters to occur, but Johnson’s fluency with both these properties will undoubtedly continue to entertain us in the remaining issues to go!

"Stranger Worlds" #3