I think Tony Shasteen’s cover for Star Trek: Boldly Go #15 truly captures the spirit of this comic.
The story so far: in part three of the story arc titled I.D.I.C., we find the various incarnations of the USS Enterprise and its crew from multiple realities converging upon a single point in a reality broken up into mixed combinations of landing parties on several different planets, including an Earth ruled by the House of Khan, Risa and a Vulcan where Starfleet has been relocated to, after the destruction of Earth by Nero.
We have all sorts of different types of Starfleet crew in this story: we have gender-reversed characters, a Spock who has renamed himself Grayson and denied his Vulcan heritage; a gaseous version of Montgomery Scott and also botanical and cybernetic versions of crew and captain. Mike Johnson has certainly got a good assortment of characters in this one.
We see Kirk and Simon Grayson match up against each other in physical combat for Lady Khan’s entertainment; definitely a highlight sequence in this story but one that also provides us some insight into the background of this version of Spock. This Spock – or Simon Grayson, as he identifies himself – has repudiated his Vulcan heritage and has a vendetta against his Kirk – or otherwise known as the Klingon battle commander, “the Orphan.” To see Grayson and Kirk fight definitely adds bit of flavour and also highlights the nature of the story.
As the crews try to work out exactly what has happened and why they are on their respective planets, we are introduced to a mysterious voice that only the Kirks can hear and is clearly the reason for their circumstances. Yes, Q is everyone’s first thought — remember his appearance in the comic series back in 2014 — and after all, the being who has transported all of them is clearly a being of great power… but that theory is quickly put to rest.
This is a bold story. Not only does it show Johnson’s willingness to experiment with the Trek characters and expand the palette of the Kelvin Timeline but it also adds depth to it with the inclusion of multiple realities. However, for me, as the Kelvin Timeline itself is a variant timeline, I’d really like to have seen representative crew-members from the original timeline as well; the fact that all of the variants are all Kelvin ones just seems fairly chronal-centric, to coin a phrase.
We are also introduced to a new artist in this issue as well. Tana Ford takes over pencilling duties for Megan Levans and while I am not privy to the editorial decisions behind this choice, I have to remark how jarring it is to a reader to change an art style within the middle of a story.
I am not too familiar with Ford’s work – I know she has extensive credits with Marvel – but I just found that the transition between the two art styles in the middle of the story was distracting. I especially found that to be the case when comparing characters that we had just been introduced to in the previous issue, like Pavela Chekov, for instance.
- As I indicated at the beginning of this review, Tony Shasteen’s bold cover really captured the essence of this book for me. The cybernetic versions of Kirk and Spock are eye-catching and J.D. Mettler’s colouring work truly makes them stand out and, forgive me, shine. I wish Shasteen was doing more interior Star Trek comic work for IDW; his likenesses are astoundingly accurate and are always a joy to view.
- The B cover by Angel Hernandez is a stark black-and-white artist’s edition and it’s also a sublime piece of work that captures action, intensity and character expression. I love seeing the skill demonstrated in a penciled piece of work. This is definitely a unique cover and an excellent example of Hernandez’s work.
- The first retailer incentive cover is a photograph of John Cho’s Hikaru Sulu. While I despise photos for a comic cover anyway, I fail to see how this is an incentive for retailers unless it’s some sort of collection package for folks who appreciate movie stills. I wish IDW would reconsider their policy with photos on covers.
- Yoshi Yoshitani’s retailer incentive B cover is more like it. Also of Hikaru Sulu, this is a cover that has some skill attached to it and is what a comic cover should be: done by a comic artist. Yoshitani’s work is highly stylized and while I wouldn’t want to see it in the interior, this idealized type of art is great for a cover.
I.D.I.C. is a bold storyline and has proven to be one of my favourites from Johnson. It’s fun story that explores a lot of possibilities in the Kelvin Timeline and that infinite diversity in infinite combinations is really the heart of what Star Trek is all about.