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Star Trek: The Newspaper Strips – Called Home (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.

It’s amazing how diverse and expansive the history of the Star Trek franchise is. Even odd little curiosities like the Gold Key Comics and The Newspaper Strips endure in one form or another – passed down over the years and lovingly maintained. There really are no truly forgotten pieces of Star Trek out there, and one of the great things about IDW’s management of the Star Trek license has been their willingness to dig into the annals of Star Trek history to produce some striking pieces of work.

(I am really hoping that their reprint programme extends at some point to include the British Star Trek comic strips, which were wonderfully dynamic pieces of work that were never properly reprinted outside the United Kingdom. However, given how thorough the reprint programme has been, it seems almost inevitable that those strips will see the light of day in some form or another.)

The Newspaper Strips were launched in 1979, débuting four days before the cinematic release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The strip only ran for until 1983, cancelled due to the fact that the market was crowded out with more popular science-fiction comic strips like Star Wars or Flash Gordon. Still, despite the ignominious finish for the strip, it is a fascinating piece of Star Trek history, an example of one of the many ways the franchise survived during its long hiatus from television.

tos-calledhome

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Star Trek (Marvel Comics, 1979) #1-3 – The Motion Picture (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.

What better way to announce the arrival of Star Trek at Marvel Comics than with an adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture? Initially published as a giant Marvel Super-Size issue, the adaptation was subsequently split across the opening three issues of Marvel’s ill-fated Star Trek monthly.

It is worth noting that the franchise’s initial association with Marvel was relatively brief, with the Star Trek monthly series only lasting eighteen issues from 1979 through to 1982. In 1982, the Star Trek comic book franchise moved to DC Comics, where it remained until the nineties. Things became a bit more complicated at that stage, but it was a long-term relationship.

Still, in 1979, Marvel became the second company to publish monthly comics based around the Star Trek license. However, they were a substantially more impressive operation than Gold Key Comics, the previous license-holder. For example, this adaptation of The Motion Picture comes from some very talented creators, and its publication was treated as something of an event.

The light at the end of the tunnel...

The light at the end of the tunnel…

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Star Trek: Phase II (1978) – In Thy Image (Review)

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

It’s interesting to imagine what might have happened if Star Trek: Phase II had actually made it to television.

The aborted attempt to produce a sequel live-action television show in the late seventies was ultimately scuppered by the success of films like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Prompted by the success of these big-screen science-fiction epics, Paramount pushed for the franchise to move to the big screen. Star Trek: Phase II was abandoned and the pilot – In Thy Image – was reimagined as the script for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Many, including Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, have argued that this was for the best. They wonder whether Phase II could have competed in the saturated science-fiction market of the late seventies. After all, one of the factors that lead to the decline of the franchise in the late nineties was the abundance of similar material out there. Given that the plan was to use Phase II to launch a television network, the obvious point of comparison as Star Trek: Voyager, which is not a favourable comparison.

Still, despite all this, it’s hard not read In Thy Image and wonder at what might have been.

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