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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (DC Comics, 1992) (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.

In many respects, adapting a Star Trek feature film into comic book form is very much an editorial function. With so little space available, particularly as compared to a feature film or novel, the assignment is more about whittling the script down to something that can be covered in fifty-five pages of a comic book. While those adapting the features films into novels frequently have to expand and flesh out the material to make it fit within the allocated page count and account for plot hole and logic error, the comic book adaptations just have to keep everything ticking over.

So Peter David and Gorden Purcell’s adaptation of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country plays quite well as a condensed version of the narrative, covering the requisite story beats in the available space.

In space, everybody can hear you scream...

In space, everybody can hear you scream…

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Star Trek (DC Comics, 1989) #1-12 – The Trial of James T. Kirk! (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.

The late eighties and early nineties saw a change in the world of Star Trek tie-ins. During the eighties, tie-in writers had typically been afforded a great deal of freedom in telling their stories – allowed to explore the fringes of the Star Trek universe with little regard to how things matched up. The period saw a number of truly spectacular Star Trek tie-ins that count among the best work ever released with the Star Trek brand on it – John Ford’s The Final Reflection or Diane Duane’s My Enemy, My Ally.

However, with the release of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and the broadcast of the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, there was a shift in how the franchise approached tie-in novels and comic books. Gene Roddenberry had arguably lost control of his creation, with the Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer taking control of the feature films while Rick Berman and Michael Piller were the driving creative forces on the television show.

Crossing swords...

Crossing swords…

As such, the tie-ins became a place where Roddenberry and his “people” – including Richard Arnold and Susan Sackett – could make their influence most heavily felt. So, in the late eighties and early nineties, a conscious effort was made to re-tool the novels and the comic book tie-ins, with Richard Arnold maintaining a much tighter grip on the reigns. DC’s first volume of Star Trek comics was cancelled after fifty-six issues, and another volume was launched to coincide with the launch of the Next Generation comic.

Writer Peter David had closed out the first volume of the Star Trek comic, and was drafted in as the writer of the new on-going series. However, he almost immediately came into conflict with Richard Arnold. Pages of the first issue had to be hastily re-drawn when Richard Arnold vetoed the use of a supporting character from Star Trek: The Animated Seriesafter the comic had been drawn. In many respects, this set the tone for the comic, which was victim to all sorts of weird editorial mandates.

The Andorian Incident...

The Andorian Incident…

While writer Michael Jan Friedman remained the writer on the on-going Next Generation comic for most of its run – only occasionally getting another writer to fill in – Peter David departed the Star Trek comic before the end of the book’s second year on the stand. This is especially frustrating when one considers the pedigree of Peter David. An accomplished novelist and comic book writer, David had a wealth of experience in the medium that was being maliciously squandered by Arnold.

It’s a shame, because the opening twelve issues of DC’s second volume of Star Trek make for a delightful read and a fitting substitute for a live-action Star Trek television show unfolding between the movies.

Warp speed ahead...

Warp speed ahead…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Vendetta by Peter David (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

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

Vendetta was published in May 1991, which is an astonishingly quick turnaround for a novel building on the events of The Best of Both Worlds, which was broadcast in 1990. Vendetta is billed as “the giant novel”, in the spirit of Jean Lorrah’s Metamorphosis – the March 1990 novel building off The Measure of a Man and advertised as “the first giant novel.”

It’s offers a suitably epic premise – the Enterprise caught between the Borg and the Doomsday Machine with the fate of the universe at stake.

tng-vendetta

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Star Trek – The Romulan Way by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

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

The Romulan Way is the second book in Diane Duane’s “Rihannsu” cycle – although the first book in the series, My Enemy, My Ally was only retroactively distinguished from standard Star Trek tie-ins. Much like My Enemy, My Ally had been roughly contemporaneous with John M. Ford’s The Final Reflection, Duane’s follow-up was published around the same time as Ford’s own sequel to his earlier work, How Much for Just the Planet? Expanding on My Enemy, My Ally, The Romulan Way sees Duane delving more thoroughly into Romulan history and culture.

The Romulan Way was published amid a sea of change at Paramount and Pocket Books in the late eighties, with shifting mandates and objectives for these tie-in books that represented a conscious effort to hem in some of the more creative tendencies of mid-eighties Star Trek novelist. To demonstrate how rapidly things were changing, both The Romulan Way and How Much for Just the Planet? were both published within three years of their predecessors. After this point, it would take Duane another thirteen years to write the third volume in her saga, and John M. Ford would never write another Star Trek tie-in again.

It’s very hard to condone any publishing philosophy that leads to results like that.

tos-theromulanway

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Star Trek (DC Comics, 1989) #19 – Once a Hero… (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

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

Once a Hero… is a notable story for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that it’s Peter David’s last issue of DC’s monthly Star Trek comic, departing the comic book after a pretty bitter disagreement with Richard Arnold, who was overseeing Star Trek licensing at the time. Given that David wrote The Incredible Hulk for twelve years and remains a prolific and well-liked comic book creator among the comic community, as well as a guiding light in Star Trek tie-in fiction, that’s a pretty damning indictment of Richard Arnold right there.

However, Once a Hero… is also notable for being an in-depth exploration and reflection on the “red shirt” narrative convention that the franchise loved so dearly.

A grave adventure...

A grave adventure…

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