Rich Handley Author and Editor

Star Trek Comics Weekly #98

An ongoing discussion of how the comics provide prequels, sequels, and tie-ins to the Star Trek episodes and films, soon to be a book from BearManor Media. Click here to view an archive of this article series.

98: IDW Publishing, 2011–2012

This column recently covered Star Trek: Infestation, IDW’s first multi-franchise team-up involving James T. Kirk and company, which hit stands in 2011. In that miniseries, Kirk’s crew never interacted with the Ghostbusters, Transformers, or G.I. Joe casts despite their involvement, making it only peripherally a crossover with those franchises since it was primarily about the Enterprise crew battling zombies. That same year, the publisher released Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes, produced in cooperation with DC Comics, and this time the crossing over was full-on.

As is typical of crossovers, Trek/Legion utilized dimensional hopping to put the Starfleet officers in the same universe as the cast of another franchise—in this case, DC’s costumed crimefighters Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Chameleon Boy, Braniac 5, and Lightning Lad, members of the 30th-century do-gooder team known as the Legion of Super-Heroes. The six-issue miniseries was written by Chris Roberson and illustrated by Jeffrey and Philip Moy.

This wasn’t the first time Kirk’s crew had crossed paths with Spandex-clad, heavily muscled, whimsically named superheroes, nor would it be the last. They’d already worked alongside Marvel’s X-Men, while their Kelvin timeline counterparts would later team up with Green Lantern, which we’ll get to in the coming months. Star Trek and Legion of Super-Heroes, however, share aspects in common, as each features a ship full of humans and aliens who traverse space and time to save the galaxy. Despite the capes and other superheroic trappings, the combination is a more organic one.

The premise: an Enterprise landing party ends up in a universe run by the Imperial Planets, a tyrannical Federation analogue that has ruled the galaxy for millennia, thanks to prehistoric humans in this timeline having been given advanced weaponry. The Legion of Super-Heroes become stranded there as well when their time bubble bursts, as the two dimensions merge into a single new reality. After mistaking each other for an enemy, the groups join forces to figure out what caused this aberrant timeline and how to reverse the damage so they can go home.

The explanation ties in to “Requiem for Methuselah,” which introduced immortal genius Flint, known throughout history under many names, including Methuselah, Solomon, Alexander, Lazarus, Merlin, Leonardo da Vinci, and Johannes Brahms. A warrior and conquering leader, Flint had given up violence to create and collect masterpiece art as a hermit on Holberg 917G. In this merged reality, he and fellow immortal Vandal Savage—a DC supervillain who debuted in 1943’s Green Lantern #1 as a prehistoric warrior rendered immortal—are combined as Emperor Vandar the Stone, a ruthless tyrant. Casper Crump played Savage on Legends of Tomorrow, and the villain’s depiction in this miniseries resembles the actor even though that TV show wouldn’t debut until 2016.

Vandal and Flint are said to be the same individual from different realities (like Spock and bearded “mirror” Spock), though this doesn’t jibe with established history, for Vandal is a 50,000-year-old Cro-Magnon, whereas Flint was born in 3834 BC. That’s a 44,000-year discrepancy. This is compounded by the fact that Flint actor James Daly in no way resembles how Vandal is typically drawn in DC continuity. Then again, Daly also looks nothing like John Rhys-Davies, who portrayed Leonardo’s hologram on Voyager, even though Flint and Leonardo are the same person.

Be that as it may, the miniseries is enjoyable and Vandar’s means of building his empire is rooted in Trek lore, well beyond his being Flint. For one thing, he’s had Q locked in a magical globe for millennia, kind of like how Roderick Burgess trapped Morpheus in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, and he’s been forcing the entity to obey him as his own personal genie. A note to writers: if you want your readers to immediately recognize that your villain is super-powerful, have him trap a Q. It makes the point well.

Naturally, Q is less than pleased with this arrangement, but he’s been helpless to escape until the arrival of the Enterprise crew and the Legionnaires. The combined heroes devise a plan to free Q from his prison so he can restore the two universes, send both crews home, and prevent the Vandar timeline from happening—which wipes their memories of meeting Q a century before Jean-Luc Picard, neatly avoiding continuity problems. In the final issue, he visits Flint on Holberg 917G wearing an outfit like the one Trelane sported in “The Squire of Gothos,” a clever nod at licensed stories making Trelane a Q.

Cameos from classic Star Trek species abound, as Vandar maintains control by preventing the most formidable beings of both franchises from uniting against him. To that end, the Emperor fosters ongoing conflicts between the Organians (“Errand of Mercy”) and DC’s Controllers, the Klingons and DC’s Kunds, and so on, knowing that the victors in each war could pose a future threat to the Imperial Planets.

For another, Vandar employs an elite warrior squad that includes the android Ruk (“What Are Little Girls Made Of?”), a Gorn (“Arena”), a mugato (“A Private Little War”), a Benzite, and an Orion. Half of Ruk’s face and body is exposed machinery, lending him the appearance of a robot assassin from the Terminator franchise. The mugato, meanwhile, is purple-furred and wears battle armor and a facial visor that reveals a visible brain where its eyes should be. It’s very DC Comics, but it’s a cool design.

As for the Gorn, he’s Slar, whose mirror-universe counterpart showed up in Star Trek: Enterprise’s “In a Mirror, Darkly” as a slavemaster working for the Tholians. This miniseries takes place a century after that episode, so Gorn lifespans must be lengthy indeed. What’s more, Jonathan Archer killed the mirror Slar on TV, illustrating how different the two universes must be, since the Gorn lived more than a hundred years longer in the Vandar reality than in the mirrorverse. Still, there are some similarities: the Imperial Planets’ crest resembles that from “Mirror, Mirror,” but with twin swords instead of one, and Vandar even tortures captives with agony booths.

The tyrant’s servants include several non-human species from Trek history. It’s easy to spot a Caitian, like The Animated Series’ M’Ress and Lower Decks’ T’Ana, but another servant resembles green-haired drill thall Shahna (“The Gamesters of Triskelion”), and there’s also a female Cheronian, a callback to Lokai and Bele, the black-and-white bakery cookie people from “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.” This marks the first and only time the comics have ever featured one of Shahna’s people or a woman from Cheron.

Vandar owns a collection of captured time machines, and the two-page spread depicting them is a highlight of the miniseries. These include British police-box and Doric column TARDIS models (Doctor Who), a phone booth (Bill and Ted), a chappa’ai (Stargate), a DeLorean (Back to the Future), a cosmic treadmill (DC’s The Flash), a time bubble (Legion of Super-Heroes), a rocket sled (Timecop), the Dagger of Time (Prince of Persia), a hot tub (Hot Tub Time Machine), H.G. Wells’ inventions from The Time Machine and Time After Time, a stopwatch (from the short-lived TV show Voyagers!), a time sphere (DC’s Rip Hunter, Time Master), and the eponymous vortex from The Time Tunnel.

The implication is that Vandar slew all the owners of the above time machines. Yes, that’s right: Flint the immortal kills off the Doctor, the Master, Bill S. Preston Esq., Theodore Logan, the SG-1 team, Doc Brown, Marty McFly, Rip Hunter, and other beloved characters from cinema, television, and literature. He also killed either H.G. Wells or Jack the Ripper, depending on when he obtained the Time After Time model; presumably, it was the Ripper since the novelist lived long enough to pen The Time Machine. How this changes the events of Star Trek’s “Wolf in the Fold” is anyone’s guess.

Vandar’s collection also includes time machines from multiple Trek episodes: Lazarus’s timeship (“The Alternative Factor”), the Atavachron (“All Our Yesterdays”), the USS Aeon (Voyager’s “Future’s End”), and the time-pod from The Next Generation’s “A Matter of Time.” So what does that tell us? Vandar also murdered Lazarus, the kindly Mr. Atoz, Captain Braxton’s crew, and Berlinghoff Rasmussen—or, at least, the 22nd-century time traveler from whom Rasmussen had stolen the pod. There’s no sign of the Guardian of Forever, proof that not even Vandar the Stone could best Harlan Ellison’s legal team.

Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes incorporated elements of the prime timeline, the mirror universe, Lazarus’s antimatter dimension, and DC Comics continuity into Vandar’s new reality. It’s only fitting, then, that the writers would work in a reference to J.J. Abrams’ Kelvin timeline. While trapped on Vandar’s world, Uhura meets a green-skinned woman and is reminded of her Orion roommate at Starfleet Academy. If said roommate was Gaila, that means the two women lived together in both realities. One can only wonder whether Kirk seduced the Orion’s prime counterpart as well. He probably did.

As it happens, we’ll be journeying back to the Abramsverse for next week’s column, which will examine once more how IDW’s ongoing monthly comic based on the 2009 film provided prequels, sequels, tie-ins to—and re-imaginings of—onscreen Star Trek.

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

Rich Handley has written, co-written, co-edited, or contributed to dozens of books, both fiction and non-fiction, about Planet of the Apes, Watchmen, Back to the Future, Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, Stargate, Dark Shadows, The X-Files, Twin Peaks, Red Dwarf, Blade Runner, Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman, the Joker, classic monsters, and more. He has also been a magazine writer and editor for nearly three decades. Rich edited Eaglemoss’s Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection, and he currently writes articles for Titan’s Star Trek Explorer magazine, as well as books for an as-yet-unannounced role-playing game. Learn more about Rich and his work at richhandley.com.

One thought on “Star Trek Comics Weekly #98

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Copyright 2024 Rich Handley