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Star Trek: Khan – Ruling in Hell (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins and other interesting objects. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

Khan is a massively important figure in the grand mythology of Star Trek.

One need only look to Star Trek Into Darkness as proof of that assertion – a film that trades on how iconic the name “Khan” is, even to the most casual of fans. However, despite the fact that Khan has only appeared in a single episode and two feature films, each spaced apart by more than a decade, the character continues to exert a strong pull over the rest of the franchise. He is arguably more iconic and well-known than any lead character from a show produced after Star Trek: The Next Generation.

War of the supermen...

War of the supermen…

After all, Khan’s influence can be felt on just about every iteration of the franchise. On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he haunted the character of Julian Bashir. When the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise began its high-profile journey into the franchise’s continuity, Khan became something of a touchstone. The season’s first three-part episode (Borderland, Cold Station 12 and The Augments) was devoted to exploring the legacy of Khan Noonien Singh. Indeed, the show even tied Khan into the origin of the flat-foreheaded Klingons in Affliction and Divergence.

And yet, despite all this, there really is only so much material the character can support. Khan Noonien Singh is an iconic bad guy, but there’s a point where he ends up over-saturated.

The sands of time...

The sands of time…

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Star Trek: To Reign in Hell – The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh by Greg Cox

This August, to celebrate the upcoming release of Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD and blu ray, we’re taking a look at the Star Trek movies featuring the original cast. Movie reviews are every Tuesday and Thursday.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the movies with tie-ins around (and related to) the films. We’ll be doing one of these every week day. This is one such article.

I feel like I’m in the minority because I didn’t much care for Greg Cox’s The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Vol. 1 & 2. The books had an absolutely great premise, and Cox had a very clever way of explaining how the Star Trek universe could have had a major conflict between genetically-engineered supermen in the 1990s, despite the fact that their version of the 1990s looked a lot like ours. However, Cox became bogged down in shout-outs and continuity references and character cameos. Despite the seemingly epic scope of the story, it seemed like 20th century Earth was inhabited by twenty people who all knew one another.

In contrast, To Reign in Hell has a much less ambitious and exciting premise, but the novel also reigns in some of Cox’s excesses. While the author’s taste for continuity sometimes overwhelms the narrative, he is somewhat restrained in how heavily he cane lean on what came before. While Cox’s prose is still a little prosiac, and his narration a little ham-fisted, he at least has a bit more room here to develop Khan as a character. Without the crutch of feeling the need to reference every 20th century character ever to appear in Star Trek, Cox can focus on his leading man.

Well, mostly.

st-toreigninhell

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Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars – The Rise & Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volumes I & II, by Greg Cox (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

In 1967, the 1990s must have seemed so very far away. At the height of the Cold War, the prospect that mankind would have made it into twenty-first century without one catastrophic global conflict must have seemed improbable at best. Indeed, the odds that anybody would still be talking about (let alone watching) a kitsch piece of sixties television science-fiction would have appeared remote. So Star Trek seemed perfectly justified sticking a reference to a major war towards the end of the twentieth century into an episode towards the end of the first season.

However, if there’s one thing that Star Trek fans cannot abide, it’s a possible continuity problem. So, when genetically engineered supermen didn’t almost conquer the world during the last decade of the twentieth century, it was only a matter of time before we got a two-volume set dedicated to resolving this particular problem.

tos-theeugenicswars

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