The very act of isolating a subject allows the observer to focus on its unique features. It’s an experimental process and one very familiar to scientists, researchers and, dare I say, artists?

John Byrne shares this examination of the crew of the Enterprise with us in the latest issue of Star Trek: New Visions, appropriately titled “Isolation”.

It’s a real homage in demonstrating Byrne’s knowledge of the Enterprise, its crew and even the very fabric of the television show that has captured the imagination of generations of believers and viewers for the past fifty years. For me, it’s a time-travelling moment whenever I pick this book up and I settle in for an isolated moment of my own to relive watching a continuing episode of my favourite science-fiction story of all time.

The story so far – the regular operations of the Enterprise are interrupted by an unexpected activation of the ship’s emergency systems. The ship is operating fine, yet the loss of control over the ship’s most basic functions is clearly something that has alarmed both captain and crew.

Upon further investigation, an unknown phenomenon occurs in which the crew, one by one, disappear from each others’ views and each of the bridge officers are seemingly isolated on the Enterprise. Of course, the aim is to understand who – or what – is behind the odd occurrence, and the story continues.

As the crew are individually isolated in their own private perspectives, what I noticed about this aspect of the story was the way Byrne managed to accurately craft the dialogue, behaviour and relationships amongst the bridge officers into what loyal fans of the original series would instantly recognize and expect. Byrne fully understands this.

For example, when Kirk is separated from the others, the first thing he does is ask for Spock and accesses the computer to check the status and integrity of his ship and crew. It’s a perfect Kirk response to a situation like this and what I would expect my childhood hero to do.

The appearance of two familiar faces – one, Edith Keeler, as evidenced by the cover – are also stimuli that would prod the most Kirk-ian of character responses that will not only delight but satisfy even the most casual fan. Of course, for me, any chance to re-visit the lovely Joan Collins in her role as Kirk’s most poignant love is a trip most worthy of travelling down memory lane.

In Spock’s case, he instantly doubts his situation, applying his systematic and logical of responses to the new environment in which he finds himself. Spock, the consummate rationalizer, is the one who ekes out insight for the benefit of the readers. It’s a true representation of the half-Vulcan science officer we have known and loved, though illogical as that response may be.

Scotty’s die-hard reliance on the engineering basis of his existence; Sulu’s intrepid daring, Uhura’s compassion and Chekov’s quick-wittedness are all traits that fans have readily assigned as hallmarks of these characters and Byrne’s dialogue and painstaking image research have all served him well as he accurately and lovingly represented these characters to an audience he knows will appreciate them.

However, it’s Leonard McCoy’s irascible manner that earns MVP status in this story. Not only is McCoy’s defiant common sense proudly displayed, but it proves to be the factor that wins the day. Completely in synch with the nature of the show, it’s a reminder of how well Byrne knows the characters in this fandom.

But the other thing that stands out in this book is the scenery. I think that was the aspect of this book that I thoroughly appreciated. It was a real opportunity to see Byrne’s collection of scenic photographs as we go on a near-virtual tour of the Enterprise.

On the first page, we are treated to a beautiful expansive shot of the bridge. Instead of the cramped, close-up camera perspective we usually see in the television series, Byrne is able to widen the angle to treat us to a larger area in which to enjoy the bridge. Of course, the absence of some chairs may inadvertently emphasize the effect. However, it’s a subtle thing, but still one to be enjoyed and appreciated and something that can only be possible with the freedom of photo-play.

One by one, the bridge officers disappear and Byrne is then able to follow their individual attempts to uncover for the reason for their isolation. The added bonus to this part of the story is that we are then given a tour of the Enterprise’s hallways, crew quarters, engineering, crawlspaces and other areas not normally seen in the show.

I also particularly enjoyed the creation of the computer maintenance tunnel that Spock accesses in order to make more sense out of the situation. In short, getting to see more of the Enterprise is always a good thing and Byrne combines existing footage of the television sets with ones of his own creation in a near-seamless manner that pays real respect to the franchise while giving fans more of what they love.

Maybe it’s just the geek in me, but I especially loved the service hatch behind the Enterprise bridge plaque. That was a cool touch and I want one in my office now.

That’s always been an added value to comics, whether they are drawn or in this case, photo-imaged. The flexibility of the medium has always allowed for exploration into seldom-visited parts of a franchise that contribute to its greater enjoyment and, at times, even canon.

Star Trek: New Visions #20 is a real treat. Byrne’s photo work is in itself an experiment that has successfully been conducted for the last twenty issues. We’ve had a run of great stories in this fabulous format that fully capture the essence of this fifty-year old franchise and is a must-have for any loyal Trek or comics fan.

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In other Trek comics news, IDW comics editor Sarah Gaydos shared some small previews of the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery Annual extended-length comic that’s due out in March, which tells the tale of Stamets and Culber’s first meeting and their journey to Discovery.

Watch for our review next month!