First let me say that I have loved Star Trek: The Original Series since I was...five, maybe longer. I grew up with it and nothing, not the movies or the subsequent TV series ever really meant the same to me. I liked some of them well enough, but nothing beat those three seasons. So I was very skeptical when the Reboot Movie first came out. Yes, it's not the original. Nothing ever will be. But it revived the heart and soul of what I loved best about Star Trek...and had more explosions(yes, I can't deny that has appeal). The characters were foundationally the same but are made different by the ripples in the time stream caused by the destruction of the Kelvin. These were well thought out and the actors managed to have their own version and yet I could so clearly see the young Kirk and Spock as they should have been in their acting.
So when I heard that the comics were doing versions of the episodes with these versions of the characters, I was ecstatic. I had pictured many of them in my mind but to see them brought to life with artwork was exciting...and I was not disappointed.
As there were only two stories in the comic and there were several characters to juggle, none but Spock, Kirk, to some extent McCoy and of course Mitchell got a lot of page time. Still, everyone was in character and the character develop of Spock and Kirk particularly was at once true to the original series and in keeping with where they were at the end of the movie. Mitchell was a bit more developed and a lot more mean and vicious. Not only does this play into the type of friend Kirk might seek out in this universe, but actually seemed more in keeping with what was obviously intended by the episode and TV ratings kept them from. For those familiar with the two episodes, names of temporary characters will be very similar.
The two episodes covered are some of the first ones, Where No Man Has Gone Before and The Galileo Seven. This is not the time or place to detail completely what took place in the original episodes though I will point out some big changes as they come.
Where No Man Has Gone Before:
We discover that the Enterprise was sent out after the events of the movie not completely overhauled (understandable as half the fleet had completely ceased to exist but with the shape she was clearly in at the end, not very safe). We see Kirk play chess with Gary Mitchell as they bring us up to date on what has happened since the movie. We also find out that Spock refuses to play Kirk in chess. On the bridge Spock has found the beacon for the S. S. Valiant, which has been lost for 200 hundred years. They discover that their mission to travel beyond the edge of the galaxy was shared by the ancient ship and the Valiant was destroyed on her captain's orders because of this. They carry out their orders however and run into a force field.
Mitchell is struck down hard by an invisible force. When they wake him up, his eyes are glowing with no sign of iris or pupil. A Captain's log segues into a discussion of the number of crew members who died with only Mitchell still alive. All had a single factor that was the same, all had high esper/ESP ratings, with Mitchell being the highest. (Here I must break in to note a major change in the story. In the episode there was a Doctor Dehner who is affected similarly to Mitchell but not as quickly. She played a major role in the episode but is only mentioned in that she recalled her request for posting to the Enterprise, perhaps because of McCoy.) Gary's talents grow by leaps and bounds, frightening the doctor, troubling Spock, but Kirk can not at first do anything against his friend, who is becoming a hazard to the ship as he becomes a god, so he says. (The comic also has Spock melding with Gary and discovering that nothing remainds of the conscious and personality of the man they once knew. This is very different from the information they had in the episode and makes it easy for the reader to side with Spock to destroy the creature instead of siding with Kirk that his friend might yet be saved, as the episode kinda does.)
The ship arrives at another Delta Vega and they beam down to fix the ship and leave Mitchell on the automated planet by himself. He is even more powerful now though and escapes. Kirk takes off after him alone. In a change from the episode, Mitchell forced Kirk to witness times in his life and his friendship with Mitchell. He attempts to kill him, fails, but the timely arrival of Spock with the Vulcan neck pinch allows Kirk to kill his once friend in a moment of near human weakness. The story ends with Kirk sitting a table by himself, trying to deal with the loss and his actions. Spock arrives and after ship business asks if they may play chess, saying Mitchell...Gary had spoken of Kirk's abilities. Jim accepts and the story ends.
This is a wonderful retelling, doing many things at once. It shows, as the episode did, the cost of being in Starfleet and the decisions Kirk must make and is able to make as Captain. Kirk grows in this story, for this is a Kobayashi Maru that he cannot win. He can only survive. Spock takes on part of the role of the absent Doctor Dehner in a wonderful use of the character. This action and his offering of understanding and sympathy at the end moves the two characters closer to where the original characters were in the series. A wonderful retelling with familiarity and surprises all wrapped up in one.
The Galileo Seven:
The Enterprise pauses on a mission to deliver vaccinations to obey standing orders to investigate strange Space conditions. Spock, Scotty, Bones, and four others (fans of TOS will recognize all the characters) set off in shuttle and are soon thrown off course and land, barely, on the only habitable planet in the area. Unable to contact the Enterprise and with damage, they attempt to repair while the Enterprise itself sends shuttles to search for them as sensors are rendered useless. A high official on board because of the vaccinations continually argues with Kirk and threatens to take over if he does not leave after a certain amount of time. That time comes and goes and they slowly head out of the system, hoping to catch sight of them and be able to turn back.
Meanwhile, Spock is thrust into command and has some difficulties with the humans because of his emotionless and completely logical form of command. In the episode, McCoy was nearly as much a problem as the others, here he serves as the mediator and works to help both sides. A much stronger role of this character and one I approved of immensely. They manage to gain enough power but one of their members is killed by Ape like natives and they are soon under attack. They do not have enough power to completely leave with the body plus one other person. Each offer to stay until help can be sent, but Spock (unlike the episode) elects that he will be the one to stay as he is in command and his crew must reach safety. One wonders if Kirk is already rubbing off on him a bit too much in this 'verse.
All of this is for naught because we had learned before that Uhura had stolen a shuttle to go back and find them. Kirk uses the regulations against the official and they go back. Uhura finds them before anyone can leave and they even make it to their original destination on time. Kirk covers for Uhura's insubordination, saying she was under his orders, causing both Spock and her to look at him as if reevaluating him. He then orders them to take time off together and the novel ends with them kissing.
Another wonderful retelling that is familiar and yet changed to incorporate the differences in the characters.
Writing and Drawing:
The writing is excellent. Episodes lend themselves well to comics as the same things are told in dialogue and visual in both mediums. The illustrations are very true to the actors, both old and new as needed. The sets and scenes are updated much as one would expect comparing TOS and the Reboot movie. Well thought out to the point where one does not notice the changes but accept them automatically as part of the redesign from the new movie.
My one complaint was the mystery of the wandering and changing eye color between the two main characters. Kirk spends most of the story with brown eyes (Shatner had hazel, Pine has blue-one has only to look at one picture from the new movie to see that instantly, it isn't hard to miss) but occasionally they appeared to remember and suddenly he has the correct color. This would have been bad enough, but than part ways through Where No Man Has Gone Before, Spock suddenly develops a case of blue eyes. Both Nimoy and Quinto have decidedly brown eyes, again something one can check on the internet in two seconds. This happens for about two maybe three frames and then they turn back. Once or twice this happens again. The rest of the comic is meticulously correct, so the dis and mis-coloration of these two characters' eyes was very disturbing and threw me for at least three pages. Even after, I kept losing focus on the story to see if I could spot another clue. Very distracting. Other than that, it is a superb piece of work.
If you are a Star Trek fan, either of TOS and/or the Reboot Movie, read this comic. It is a wonderful retelling/continuation. If you like comics in general, this is a wonderful collection of work and is well worth the read, knowledge of TOS and/or the movie are not really necessary. But they do lead to a much great understanding and enjoyment. In other words, READ!