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.
125: IDW Publishing, 2017
A year ago, this column began boldly exploring IDW’s comics based on J.J. Abrams’ so-called Kelvin timeline, with an examination of the miniseries Star Trek: Countdown. Since then, we’ve followed the publisher’s numerous tales set in that reality, including an adaptation of the 2009 Star Trek film; a 60-issue ongoing monthly; two Green Lantern crossovers;the miniseries Nero, Countdown to Darkness, Khan, Starfleet Academy, and Manifest Destiny; and a second monthly called Star Trek: Boldly Go.
In total, IDW produced more than 120 issues starring the alternate cast, and we’ve reached the penultimate discussion with Boldly Go #7–12. The series resurrected the ongoing comic for another 18 chapters, reimagining fan-favorite episodes and films for the time-altered reality. Written by Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott, Boldly Go featured interior art from Megan Levens and Tony Shasteen, with covers by Shasteen, Jason Badower, Gerry Brown, George Caltsoudas, Derek Charm, Cryssy Cheung, Vincenzo Federici, Arianna Florean, and Tim Gilardi.
In issues #7–8, the cadet squad from IDW’s Starfleet Academy mini, now with Star Trek Beyond’s Jaylah on their team, are assigned as aides at a conference convened to seek peace with Romulus. The story’s events somewhat mirror those of “Journey to Babel,” with an ambassador once again murdered during a Babel conference attended by Spock’s father Sarek. So it is, to some extent, a reimagining of that episode. However, there’s an interesting subversion of readers’ expectations here, for in the episode the victim was a Tellarite (Gav), with a Vulcan the prime suspect. This time, a Tellarite is the murderer, while the victim is a Vulcanoid (the Romulan delegate).
As with Sarek having been wrongfully accused, Cadet Shev Akria is arrested for the crime. Shev is Andorian, completing the parallel since an Andorian ambassador, Shras, had also been a suspect onscreen. In one of the more unusual applications of Vulcan mental disciplines, Cadet T’Laan mind-melds with the ambassador’s corpse to determine how his assassination was carried out. Picture Lost’s Miles Straume (who mentally communicated with the dead on that show), but with pointed ears.
Issue #9 ties in with Star Trek: Voyager’s “Innocence,” as Spock joins an expedition to a New Vulcan mountain called Voroth Masif, recalling Vulcan’s Voroth Sea, mentioned in the episode. The story focuses on Nyota Uhura, still enjoying sabbatical with Spock from the previous issues, who teaches classes about Earth culture at the Vulcan Science Academy. It’s worth noting that Spock’s mother Amanda had been a teacher as well, but whereas Vulcans looked down on her for being human, Uhura is treated with respect from students and faculty alike. Perhaps the movie’s cataclysmic events humbled the arrogant Vulcans into dropping their bigotries.
The tenth issue sees Montgomery Scott visiting Beyond’s Yorktown starbase to inspect the Enterprise-A’s construction. A team of engineers overseen by Keenser, Scotty’s diminutive counterpart in the Abrams movies, work to prepare the starship for its scattered crew. On Keenser’s team is “Kevin,” the even more diminutive Teenaxi who’d been inadvertently beamed aboard the Enterprise in Beyond’s opening scenes, then had joined the crew and adopted a human name. The tale is told from Kevin’s perspective, exploring his wonder at experiencing the larger universe with Starfleet (but without pants), alongside his torn loyalties as a servant of two masters.
Jaylah, Keenser, and Kevin aren’t the only Beyond characters spotlighted in this batch of issues. The Teenaxi leader, Grand Audarch “Steve,” also from the movie, meets with Admiral Paris (the Kelvin counterpart of Tom Paris’s grandmother, per Simon Pegg) to open trade relations with the tiny aliens. Things go amusingly off the rails when the devious ruler steals Kirk’s captain chair, having mistaken it for a vital power source. Kevin sides with the Starfleet crew during the diplomatic debacle, causing Steve to exile him. Kevin thus remains with Starfleet, the latest member of Scotty’s increasingly motley band of alien buddies in that universe.
Finally, issues #11–12 provide an alternate take on “Whom Gods Destroy,” which had introduced the brilliant and murderous Garth of Izar. Critically injured, the starship captain had survived thanks to the natives of Antos IV teaching him how to shapeshift. After descending into madness and attempting genocide, Garth had been incarcerated on Elba II. In addition to re-imagining that episode, this two-parter revisits issues #43–45 of IDW’s ongoing monthly, which had introduced the scavenger Eurydice and her daughter Thalia. The child now seeks Kirk’s help in finding her mother (Kirk’s one-time lover, naturally), who’d vanished while trading on Antos IV—hence, the Garth connection.
A flashback to his cadet days sees the alternate Kirk attending a lecture from Garth. As with the prime Kirk, Jim idolizes Garth in this reality as well, having learned about his heroic exploits in the Battle of Axanar. The comic’s telling differs from that on TV, though once again Garth falls from grace. In this reality, Garth had commanded the USS Heisenberg (clearly, it should have been the USS Wayne), during which he’d seemingly died due to a transporter accident. Having somehow survived, Garth had learned how to change his form, just like in the prime timeline, and he now seeks revenge on his former crew, whom he believes left him for dead.
To that end, Garth rips a page form his prime doppelgänger’s playbook by assuming Kirk’s form and stealing his ship, the USS Endeavour (the Enterprise-A is not yet shipshape, with the entirety of Boldly Go taking place before Star Trek Beyond’s final moments). Kirk stops him, then Garth is assigned to Elba II, just as before—and the asylum is run by Doctor Donald Cory in this timeline as well. In a sly nod at Kirk’s transporter code in the episode, McCoy plays 3-D chess with Thalia, who defeats him by moving her Queen to—you guessed it—Queen’s Level Three.
IDW shows what the Antosians look like, giving them green skin and head tentacles. This isn’t the first comic to suggest a design for the species, as Marvel had drawn the Antosian Tak Markessan as a bald albino in Star Trek #15. The discrepancy need not constitute a continuity conflict, however, since the natives’ most notable aspect is their technique of altering their appearance via cellular metamorphosis. Their nature as shape-changers means the culture likely comprises a host of divergent physiologies, since anyone could change their form from one day to the next. Either of the above could be their native form, or neither could be.
The story also ties in with two other episodes. The Endeavour resupplies at Cygnia Minor, a colony that had faced famine in “The Conscience of the King.” The other connection is to “Obsession,” as a flashback to Kirk’s Academy days has him slated to join the USS Farragut, a vessel on which prime Kirk had once served as well (which he currently does on Strange New Worlds). Nero’s incursion in the movie would preclude that posting—yet another aspect of history that differs in the Kelvin reality.
Very soon, this column will wrap up Boldly Go and conclude the Kelvin timeline’s exploits in the four-color realm. In the interim, we’ll journey to yet another reality for IDW’s next big saga, starting with 2017’s Mirror Broken. This Star Trek: The Next Generation miniseries introduced a dark storyline that continues to this day for the mirror universe’s Jean-Luc Picard and company, courtesy of writers Scott and David Tipton. Be there or face an extended stay in the agony booth.
Looking for more information about Star Trek comics? Check out these resources:
- My ongoing column for Titan Books’ Star Trek Explorer magazine
- The Complete Star Trek Comics Index, curated by yours truly
- The Star Trek Comics Checklist, by Mark Martinez
- The Wixiban Star Trek Collectables Portal, by Colin Merry
- New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, by Joseph F. Berenato (Sequart, 2014)
- Star Trek: A Comics History, by Alan J. Porter (Hermes Press, 2009)
- The Star Trek Comics Weekly page on Facebook
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.