Mike Johnson must think he’s the luckiest Trek writer in the known galaxy right now.
Star Trek: Discovery — The Light of Kahless #2 hit the shelves this past Wednesday, co-written by Discovery staff writer, Kirsten Beyer. Johnson is no rookie when it comes to writing Trek, given his previous scintillating work for IDW’s line of Star Trek books and his association with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.
Johnson knows Trek, but getting a chance to write a comic with a current writer of the latest show has got to be a dream job for a Trek writer.
The greatest thing this comic offers is greater historical background on T’Kuvma, and to be frank, I think he left the series way too soon. We only get two episodes of him in the first season of Discovery, and that’s too little to get a decent understanding of the motivations behind this fundamental character. Both Johnson and Beyer rectify this and present an excellent amount of detail into the background of the “saviour” of the Klingon Empire.
In my opinion, history and continuity of that history are crucial in establishing the legitimacy of a franchise. While Discovery may have suffered some criticism in this area, the fact that there is a great deal of backstory in this comic needs to be recognized as a supplement to the show. The more history to offer, the more opportunities to connect with established continuity.
There is some justification for that idea with one of the actual writers of the show co-writing this comic, but there is also the notion that there isn’t enough information in the show about the character. That void needs to be filled and basically, whatever we get from Johnson and Beyer should be considered canon.
Speaking of which, the cultural aspects of the Klingons get a lot of attention in this focused look at T’Kuvma’s origins. For instance, we learn more about the religion of Kahless, which has always eluded me (aside from my particular enjoyment of the Deep Space Nine episode “The Sword of Kahless”).
There are other instances in Star Trek canon that provide a bit more information about the Klingon central religious figure, but I think this is the first time where we actually get to see devotions of the faith depicted. T’Kuvma endures privation rituals, vision quests and other tests and he emerges from them far and beyond the range of his peers. He stands out amongst the other disciples to his masters because he has a sacred purpose.
I find I actually like this character more. Perhaps that’s because we didn’t get a chance to learn as much about him as we should have, and that while that could be a criticism of the show, it’s to the benefit of the readers of this book to learn more about T’Kuvma and his experiences that prepared him.
Of course, it’s a little sad when we know how his introduction in Star Trek: Discovery, and makes me ask why he had to die, but as this is essentially a prequel, that’s the downside to these types of stories. Still, like I said, I know more about the character and that gives me a larger understanding and informs my appreciation of the show to a greater degree.
However, Tony Shasteen… I seriously cannot get enough of this guy’s art. His skill with likenesses, the seemingly effortless quality of his work – it’s a reason in itself to pick up this book. I find that if Shasteen is attached to any comic, my curiosity would make me buy the book to simply see how he represents the subject.
He’s a class A level talent and IDW should hold on to this talented artist.
Speaking of art, let’s take a look at the covers for this book.
- Cover A is by Shasteen, and features an extremely detailed presentation of the albino Voq, Son of None – the successor to T’Kuvma’s legacy. Of course, Voq is being told the story by L’Rell and is perfectly detailed, right down to the sneer that thoroughly represents the character’s insecurity and aggression.
Shasteen captures the essence of the character, making this a perfectly apt cover for this story. This one has to be my favourite out of the selections.
- The B cover is a photographic cover of L’Rell, Voq’s second who not only believes in T’Kuvma’s message but also Voq’s role as his successor. I’m not an advocate of photographic covers – which I’ve stated before – but I’d have loved to see some artist’s representation of Mary Chieffo’s character. It’s a comic; it should have drawn art.
- The A retailer-incentive cover by Aaron Harvey is a bold representation of T’Kuvma. It’s not only appropriate but it’s a very powerful presentation of the character. I like this stylized presentation very much and it’s a shame it’s only restricted to a few comic shops.
- However, it’s the B retailer-incentive cover by Declan Shavley that I found really took my attention. I’m not a keen lover of the newly realized Klingons, but I have to confess, there’s a grandeur to the Klingon ships in this series that really commands my attention!
I know Shalvey’s art from books like Image’s Injection and Marvel Comics’ Moon Knight and I have always loved his work. The problem though, is that it was a fairly simple sample of his work. I love the Klingon ships, but it was a fairly staid example of this extremely talented artist’s work.
However, bringing it back to the story, I want to know: why can’t I work with Kirsten? Why can’t I work with Mike? Sigh … at least I get to live vicariously through their work and surround myself with Tony Shasteen’s incredible art, as do we all.
Ever since the early days of Marvel Comics’ carriage of Star Wars, comics have held a vital role in filling in the canonical gaps of popular franchises and in this case, IDW is providing fans with important information that is necessary to the added appreciation of the television show.
The Light of Kahless is a comic vital to the added enjoyment of the show and Johnson, Beyer and Shasteen give us that. It’s an enjoyable book and certainly one to add to your comic list.