Graphic Novel/Comics Review

Star Trek - To Boldly Go

(2005) Mike W Barr, Titan Books, 14.99, trdpbk, 162pp, ISBN 1-845-76084-0

Star Trek - To Boldly Go is a collection of the first six issues of the DC comics' Star Trek series originally published in 1984. Events take place after the movie Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan, but before Star Trek III - The Search for Spock. So, as Leonard Nimoy called one of his autobiographies, Spock is dead. But everyone else is present and fairly correct, as well as the Kirstie Alley version of Lt. Saavik.

In addition to the reproduction of the comics and their covers you also get an introduction by Walter Koenig (who played Chekov, ironic as he's the least represented of all the TV characters. He only appears in a couple of panels in the whole book!) and reproductions of interviews with William Shatner and DeForest Kelly. These are from 1994 and originally appeared in the UK Star Trek Monthly. Finally you get short biographies on the writer and artists of the comics (Mike W Barr, Tom Sutton & Ricardo Villagran) and an afterword from Mike W Barr that was originally part of the first issue.

So those are the facts, but is it a good read?

Let me be honest with you now, I wouldn't call myself a Trekkie. I watched the whole classic series through when it was on BBC2 in the early Nineties (and enjoyed it), but I don't think I've seen an episode since. I felt that this put me at a bit of a disadvantage when reading this book. It's packed with continuity references and old characters from the original series. Even when I didn't know enough to recognise what the reference was, I knew that one was being made. And that gave me the feeling of being slightly excluded from what was going on. I know enough to spot that "Errand of War" is a play on an episode called "Errand of Mercy", and I remember that one of the last episodes had Abraham Lincoln in it and was called "All Our Yesterdays", but don't expect me to remember the plot, or the name of the aliens in it. Or to recognise who the Excalbians are, or when a Klingon called Kor was in the show, and I could go on. Old monsters, old characters and even old story ideas are all thrown into the p(l)ot, as if this is what the readers want. Well maybe it is what some readers want, but it didn't do anything for me.

How many times has Star Trek done the "Starfleet captain goes rogue and is hailed as a god on some primitive planet" story anyway? And you know he's meant to be a god because he dresses like a Greek/Roman, even though no-one else on the planet does! And there's the shape-changing assassin, and the third party trying to provoke a war between the Federation and the Klingons. It's all quite fast-paced, but I couldn't help thinking I'd seen it all before somewhere, and as I said - I'm not even a fan!

The characterisation is a bit of a mixed bag. Kirk, McCoy and Saavik are fleshed-out a bit and get to reflect on Spock's death and interact with each other. Chekov barely appears, Sulu doesn't do anything except wonder why he isn't a Captain yet and Uhuru opens her usual frequencies. Poor old Scotty though! OK, so he was never the most three-dimensional character on television, but in the comics he's a complete stereotype who thinks of nothing but his engines and technical manuals, apart from one instance where his thoughts stray to drinking Scotch (because he's Scottish you see!). There is a Klingon brought on board the Enterprise who pre-dates Worf by about three years, but apart from that I didn't find much of note.

The artwork is ok in close-up with good likenesses of the main characters, but in crowd scenes or long-shots they're indistinguishable from each other. It doesn't help that everyone's dressed in the same red movie uniforms. At least with the reds, yellows and blues of the original series you could tell people apart at a distance (handy for picking off those red-shirts I suppose). If you're a big Star Trek fan who gets a kick out of spotting in-jokes and references you may love it. Anyone else may wish to heed my warnings before parting with their cash.

Andrew Webster

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