Rich Handley Author and Editor

Star Trek Comics Weekly #1

An ongoing discussion of how Star Trek comics provide prequels, sequels, and tie-ins to the episodes and films…

1: Introduction

Star Trek and comic books have gone hand in hand for five decades, and though the four-color realm representsa niche corner of the franchise, the comics enjoy a loyal fan base. New comic books and/or strips have been published every year since 1967, other than in 1999 and from 2002 to 2005, so there is an extraordinary amount of material available to collectors. More than a thousand issues have been produced to date, from Gold Key, Marvel, Power Records, DC, Malibu, WildStorm, Tokyopop, and IDW, with more than 60 additional storylines appearing in daily and weekly comic strips published in the United States and Great Britain. (You’ll find them all listed here.)

On a basic level, comics help to keep the franchise vitalized by enabling Paramount and CBS to tell—and sell—new tales outside the filmed canon, and to explore strange new worlds on a regular basis. But they also allow readers to revisit their favorite characters, worlds, and alien species from film and television. Whether it’s a mission to Talos IV, Regula I, Nibiru, or the Genesis Planet; the return of Captain Koloth, Thadiun Okona, Harry Mudd, Seska, V’Ger, Gary Seven, or Q; or reexaminations of episodes from new perspectives, the comics do more than merely add new stories to the mythos. They enrich those we already have by taking us back to where we’ve boldly gone before.

What does a collection of every Star Trek comic book to date look like? Kind of like this. (My wife is very patient.)

Star Trek Comics Weekly (published here and also at Eaglemoss’s Hero Collector website) will examine every comic book and strip published to date, starting with Gold Key’s historic first issue and eventually working up to the current offerings from IDW, from the viewpoint of how each series and each issue connects with what has aired on the small and large screens. You might be surprised at how many comics have presented prequels, sequels, or tie-ins to popular (and some not-so-popular) Star Trek movies and episodes—not to mention several novels.

In some case, it’s hardly surprising that sequels exist. “The City on the Edge of Forever” has inspired multiple trips through the Guardian of Forever beyond those involving Edith Keeler. “The Best of Both Worlds” has spawned numerous stories featuring the Borg, Commander Shelby, the Battle of Wolf 359, or Picard’s cyborg alter-ego, Locutus. And thanks to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, there’s quite a legacy of lore utilizing Carol and David Marcus, Khan Noonien Singh, the USS Reliant, Lieutenant Saavik, and other elements of that movie.

For other episodes, though, the existence of sequels would not be so expected. Who, for instance, would imagine reading comics connected to “The Way to Eden,” Star Trek‘s “space hippie” episode? Or the underappreciated 1970s Filmation cartoon? Or the much-maligned Star Trek V: The Final Frontier? Or the infamous “Spock’s Brain?” Or even the never-produced Star Trek: Phase II? And yet, comics connected to all of these have been published. What’s fascinating, given the nearly 800 episodes and movies that have aired as of May 2019, is that the majority have received sequels, prequels, or tie-ins on the printed page in one form or another.

From books and strips to toys and fast-food boxes, the Star Trek franchise has thrived
in the comics medium for more than 50 years. (Photo credit: Rich Handley)

When done right, comics offer much more than ancillary tales—they’re a vital extension of the franchise, affording readers a greater appreciation and understanding of the stories they’ve already watched dozens of times. Every publisher, even Gold Key, has presented prequels and sequels, enhancing what we know by showing us something we don’t know—just like any good sequel or prequel would.

This column will provide a useful resource for fans looking to read about particular characters or episodes. It would be cost-prohibitive for those new to the hobby to track down 1,000-plus comics, and it would be ridiculously time-consuming to have to re-read all of them every time one wanted to find, say, every sequel to The Next Generation‘s “The Measure of a Man,” Deep Space Nine‘s “The Maquis,” or Voyager‘s “Year of Hell.” My goal, in this space, will be to make the hunt easier.

If you’re the type to delight in publishers bringing back the Excalbians (“The Savage Curtain”), Gillian Taylor’s humpback whales (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), Jaylah(Star Trek Beyond), the Kzinti (“The Slaver Weapon”), the Chalnoth (“Allegiance”), the Nausicaans (“Tapestry”), or the USS Discovery crew’s mirror-universe counterparts, then this column is meant for you. Next week, we’ll travel back to the beginning and delve into the very first Star Trek comic line, courtesy of Gold Key.

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Looking for more information about Star Trek comics? Check out these resources:

Rich Handley has written books about Planet of the Apes, Back to the Future, and Watchmen, as well as licensed Star Wars and Planet of the Apes fiction, and he edited 70 volumes of Eaglemoss’s Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection. Rich co-edited Titan’s Scribe Award-nominated Planet of the Apes: Tales from the Forbidden Zone; nine Sequart anthologies discussing Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Hellblazer, Stargate, and classic monsters; and four Crazy 8 Press anthologies about Batman and (now) the Joker. He has contributed essays to DC’s Hellblazer: 30th Anniversary Celebration; IDW’s Star Trek and Star Wars comic-strip reprint books; BOOM! Studios’ Planet of the Apes Archive hardcovers; Sequart anthologies about Star Trek and Blade Runner; ATB Publishing’s Outside In line exploring Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, The X-Files, Twin Peaks, and Babylon 5; and a Becky Books anthology covering Dark Shadows.

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