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Star Trek (DC Comics, 1984) #1-6 – Errand of War! (Review)

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

After Marvel lost the Star Trek license in 1982, there was a period where no monthly Star Trek comics were being published. One of the consequences of this was that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan didn’t receive an official comic book adaptation, until IDW decided to go back and fill in the blanks in 2009. Eventually, DC comics managed to secure the license for Star Trek comics, and they began publishing in 1984, the year that saw the release of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. DC would maintain the license into the mid-nineties, making it one of the most stable licensing agreements ever reached about Star Trek comics.

Unlike Marvel’s 1979 agreement with Paramount, DC reached an agreement that allowed them full access to the Star Trek mythology. Marvel had been restricted to using characters and concepts from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a rather restrictive agreement. In contrast, DC had access to the whole of the Star Trek canon. Indeed, reading Mike Barr and Tom Sutton’s run on Star Trek, it seems like their opening six issues were designed to showcase the sheer breadth of continuity available to them.

At the same time, Barr’s scripts have a pulpy charm that makes them highly enjoyable, even as trying to tell an unfolding Star Trek story set between the events of The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock seems ill-advised.

Warp speed ahead...

Warp speed ahead…

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by Vonda N. McIntyre (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.

Gene Roddenberry novelised Star Trek: The Motion Picture. While there’s some lingering discussion about whether Roddenberry actually wrote the novelisation, the book reads like the work of a screenwriter turning his hand to prose. It’s more of a manifesto than a novel – an excuse for Roddenberry to expand on his utopian vision for the franchise.

In contrast, Vonda N. McIntyre was hired to write the novelisation of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Unlike Roddenberry, McIntyre was an experienced and professional novelist. She had been writing since the mid-seventies, and had a wealth of experience in both media tie-ins and her own original work. In fact, McIntyre wrote The Entropy Effect, the book published directly after the publication of The Motion Picture, and only the second Star Trek book published by Pocket Books.

All of this is a very round-about way of explaining that The Wrath of Khan is very much an adaptation in a way that The Motion Picture simply was not.

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Star Trek – Cast No Shadow by James Swallow (Review)

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.

Valeris is a fascinating character who gets a bit lost in the scope of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Given the film’s focus on bidding a fond farewell to the iconic crew of the Enterprise, it’s understandable that the newest addition to the crew should get pushed aside. It’s even more notable because Valeris is clearly a stand-in for the character of Saavik, another of Spock’s young female Vulcan protegés, making her not only a newer character, but a substitute for a newer character.

One of the most interesting things about Star Trek tie-in fiction is the scope afforded by the gigantic shared universe. Across the dozen movies and the seven-hundred episodes of television, there are countless supporting characters and concepts thrown out. Due to plotting necessities and the demands of particular stories, some of these ideas are never truly fleshed out. The sheer volume of tie-in material means that writers do get a chance to develop and expand upon these character which might otherwise be forgotten.

Writing a novel centred on Valeris is a very bold idea, but one which acknowledges just how intriguing the concept of Kim Cattrall’s Vulcan traitor is, despite the fact the film treats her as a minor character at best.

castnoshadow

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Star Trek Special #2 (DC Comics, 1994) – A Question of Loyalty (Review)

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.

A Question of Loyalty is essentially a Star Trek character study, comparing and contrasting the two young Vulcan female characters to appear in the film franchise, providing a meeting between Valeris and Saavik, Spock’s two young protegés. The production history of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is interesting, as there were early plans to include Saavik. For a variety of reasons, this didn’t work out and director Nicholas Meyer and his writers decided to cast a new role, Valeris. A Question of Loyalty allows the two characters to come face-to-face, and offers both some character motivation for the under-developed Valeris and a fond farewell for Saavik.

Her ears are tingling...

Her ears are tingling…

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Star Trek – Unspoken Truth by Margaret Wander Bonanno (Review)

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.

Saavik is an interesting character, for several reasons. Most obviously, there’s the behind the scenes manoeuvrings involving the new character. Everything from her origin to the recasting of the role between Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. There’s the inclusion of a short scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and the fact that the last time we see Saavik, she’s watching the reunited cast of the original Star Trek continue their galactic adventures.

There’s her complete absence from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and then the weird pseudo-return of the character in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, where the role that would become Valeris was originally considered for Saavik, before being cast with Kim Cattrall, an actress who had originally been considered to play Saavik. It’s interesting to consider the conceptual history of the character, given what she was supposed to represent upon her introduction in The Wrath of Khan.

Margaret Wander Bonanno does an excellent job exploring Saavik’s life in the wake of her decision to remain on Vulcan in The Voyage Home, with Unspoken Truth doing an excellent job playing with the character in the grand scheme of the shared Star Trek universe.

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Non-Review Review: Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home

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.

Up until the release of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek in 2009, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was the most successful of the Star Trek films. Indeed, it ranks alongside Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as the film which has most deeply dug itself into the popular consciousness. “I’m from Iowa; I only work in outer space” might not be as iconic a quote as “KHAAAAAAN!!!”, but a lot of people casually remember “the one with the whales.”

The fourth film in the series closes off an inter-connected trilogy of Star Trek films, wrapping up character development for the leads and tying up loose ends, but it’s also – somewhat paradoxically – the most accessible of the movies. If you’re looking for an introduction to Star Trek, it’s hard to think of a more welcoming entry than The Voyage Home. However, what’s really strangely charming about The Voyage Home is that it’s also probably the film truest to the franchise’s humanist values.

Ship off the starboard bow!

Ship off the starboard bow!

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Star Trek: Myriad Universes – Echoes and Refractions: The Chimes at Midnight by Geoff Trowbridge (Review)

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.

The death of Spock at the climax of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is one of the definitive Star Trek moments. Pop culture has assimilated the moment, to the point where any half-decent nerd will identify “the needs of the many…” or “I have been and always shall be…” or maybe even “of all the souls I encountered…” It’s an absolutely massive moment for the franchise, where the film series dared to kill off the show’s most iconic and best-loved character.

It’s no wonder that the moment is such a strong focal point for those seeking to explore Star Trek. Star Trek: Into Darkness riffs mercilessly on that iconic scene, inverting it and counting on the iconography to generate enough emotional resonance for the film to get away with a fairly half-hearted homage. (The effects of The Wrath of Khan last until Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, while the consequences of the climax of Into Darkness don’t even last until the closing credits.)

So that famous sequence serves as an effective focal point of Geoff Trowbridge’s The Chimes at Midnight, which offers a parallel continuity of the Star Trek films in a universe where Spock died after the events of Yesteryear.

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