One of the stark contrasts between the classic Star Trek milieu and the Kelvin Timeline films is the romantic relationship between Spock and Uhura, a story thread running through all three big-screen adventures since Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana inherited their roles in 2009.
While this is still somewhat awkward for an Original Series fan like myself, I fervently remind myself that this is still an alternate timeline of Star Trek… but it is still Star Trek.
After all, if I didn’t believe that, then I wouldn’t be able to enjoy Mike Johnson’s and Ryan Parrott’s script-work, as well as Tony Shasteen’s triumphant return to penciling duty on this amazing true-to-Trek Issue #9 of IDW’s Boldly Go series.
This chapter is a Spock-Uhura standalone story that is set within the context of their relationship. After the events of the Babel Summit which concluded in last month’s issue, we see Spock and Uhura return to New Vulcan to resume their new lives together as they await the construction on the new Enterprise-A to be completed. Uhura adjusts to civilian life in Vulcan society and Spock looks for new ways to be of use to his remaining people, one of which is tapping a new power source beneath New Vulcan’s surface.
What strikes me the most about this story though is how true it was to the original Trek. It had a real flavour of the 1960’s in that when Uhura is able to sense something that her Vulcan hosts can’t, it not only reaffirms her usefulness to them but also the value that Humanity can offer among the stars. It’s a real Roddenberry value, and completely what the new franchise needs to establish itself in a growing fanbase of new Trekkers (and to justify it to die-hards like myself).
While the relationships may be different in the two Trek universes, the spirit of Trek is still present in this story. Spock and Uhura discover something new — and dangerous — about this planet, but at the same time, this discovery teaches them something new about themselves and their own partnership. This is a parallel that we have seen many times in the various incarnations of regular timeline Star Trek.
One of the manifestations of this idea is Sarek’s stoic Vulcan hints as to the eventual logical outcome of his son’s relationship with Nyota; it is Uhura who picks up on them, despite Spock’s superior grasp of logic. This is a story motif that could have come from any Star Trek writer’s room.
I’m ecstatic to see Tony Shasteen back to work on this title. Shasteen’s work is truly gifted. His likenesses are impeccably accurate and while I’ve said this before, it doesn’t do any harm to repeat it. He really is one of IDW’s greatest assets in the success of this book. After all, had I known that he would be permanently off this title, it’d be a hard cause to win me back to it.
- Taking a look at the covers for this book, we first see George Caltsoudas’s offering of a Vulcan Wedding Ceremony between our aforementioned couple. This is the regular issue cover and is fairly representative of Caltsoudas’s highly distinctive style.
His characters are slender, ethereal and the setting seems like something more out of a fairy tale than an alien desert planet. Caltsoudas presents an ideal version of New Vulcan rather than something more realistic. The scene seems more like a wedding you’d find set in the deep South than in the depths of another solar system, but it is definitely striking.
- Arianna Florean’s subscription variant cover is also somewhat fanciful. Again, we are treated to another striking piece of idealized art that does not fail go unnoticed. It’s actually quite a beautiful piece that relies upon impressionism rather than similitude to present Lieutenant Uhura in a romantic light.
- The retailer-incentive Cover A is another photo cover of Zoe Saldana in uniform, from the Star Trek Beyond publicity gallery. While I appreciate a good photograph, I just dislike seeing one on the cover of a comic book; I’d much rather see a drawing or a painting.
- Finally, the retailer-incentive Cover B by Cryssy Cheung is a startlingly lifelike rendition of Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk. Not only is this a cover that smacks of talent but also of an immense sense of dedication. There’s a great deal of love in this cover and it does not disappoint. I’d have to rank this one as my favourite out of the four; simple, elegant, and filled with craftsmanship. Cheung should be proud of this one.
While it’s easy to focus on Spock and Uhura as a couple, this is a story that is really about Humanity finding its place in space and to me, that’s a big part of what Star Trek is about. That understanding is also clearly shared by Johnson and Parrott and makes Boldly Go #9 a story that every Trek fan will enjoy.