Photography can be somewhat of a static art. The improvements and changes in technique can be very subtle and difficult to see over time.
You have to know what you’re looking for and in John Byrne’s Star Trek: New Visions #17 — All the Ages Frozen… they’re there, but you need to know where to look.
A quick summary of the plot: the Enterprise has received a distress call from a nearby Federation research vessel with a station established on a planet with sub-arctic temperatures. The research team and its families have all disappeared and its up to Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise to investigate and determine where they are.
In the process of the investigation, they discover that there is more to the planet that meets the eye. Of course, that’s about as much as I’d like to share for fear of giving away spoilers, but immediately, this is exactly the type of plot that you could expect to find in one of the 79 original episodes.
It’s hard for me not to love this book. After all, we are talking original Star Trek storytelling and imagery that’s been re-purposed for die-hard fans like myself. Also from one of my comic heroes? Well, that’s an added bonus, but it’s also important to look for progression and this is a difficult book to search for it. It’s not like we can see refinement in penciling or dynamic new colourization, but Byrne has been a very busy artist in learning to improve the photographic recreation of his and my favourite fandom.
So, what has he been learning? Well, in the last few issues, we can see that Byrne has been learning more about graphic software. He’s also been talking quite a bit about the original images he’s creating with this software. In fact, if you visit his forum, he is very eager to discuss his new techniques and entertains questions about them. If you like what he does with this book and have some curiosity about his technique, then it’s worth a visit.
But the store of images that he can use is finite. Eventually, he had to learn to create more images. Even the demand of writing new stories needed original imagery that needed to be crafted. The backdrops, new aliens, robots or even new spaceships necessitated the ability to fabricate new objects that fit into the settings of the television show and blend in with the surrounding technology.
For example, if you look on page 11 of this issue, you can see Byrne had to create an entire new setting for the research station that fits in mind with not just what we can expect to find form the show but is also appropriate for the story he’s telling. We can see a kitchen, living quarters, and a research and development section. Byrne has either compiled these from original images or created his own – or he’s even modified them.
Actually, in the kitchen, there’s an Easter egg from one of the original episodes. See if you can find it! I’ll give you a hint – it’s somewhat robotic.
And speaking of robots, Byrne creates a new robotic character in this story. While I feel it might have been a bit of an abandoned character, it still is an example of a completely new character that Byrne has had to create with his growing expertise in graphic design. The same can be said for the hologramatic character who is played by a who I can only assume is an acquaintance of Byrne, Katherine Larocca.
What I also like about following Byrne’s technique is that he not only has a library of these established television episode images, but he is adding to the library. He now has a collection of modified or new images of his own creation that can be used for future stories. I’m sure that we will see the robot character in future issues but we will also see science vessels (that very closely resemble the Starfleet cargo vessels of the original Star Fleet Technical Manual and the medical vessels we remember from The Next Generation – though clearly dated appropriately). As Byrne continues to create more of these stories, this collection will clearly grow.
All the Ages Frozen seems to me to be a watermark book in John Byrne’s developing collection of Trek stories. After all, there seem to be more newly created images in this story than stock photos. The engaging cover sports a partially desiccated Spock and a choking Kirk trapped in what can only assumed to be some sort of a cryogenic coffin (as suggested by the title) with a very scary high-priestess figure standing overhead.
This is a very elaborate picture and reveals a great deal of story information. Byrne has no shortage of images now, with his grasp of image generation.
This is a very intricate and engaging story – more than what I’ve seen in Byrne’s other photomontages and I’ve read ‘em all. It keeps to the spirit of the original show and Byrne’s layout seems to somehow replicate the pace of an original episode, but it does so in a wholly new fashion. His later books are going to be even more exciting to read.
Oh, and If anyone was to complain about Byrne’s apparent lack of artistry on this title, then I’d venture to say that they weren’t really looking hard enough.