Thursday, 19 April 2018

Conceptual Preview: Upcoming Bonuses from Eaglemoss


Whether through pure over-exuberance or an out of character technical error (!!!), Eaglemoss have now revealed the next few bonus editions set to come our way in the latter half of 2018 and the start of 2019.   

Now I'm probably more excited about these handful of announcements than the regular issues and when we explore further its easy to see why.   

1. USS Voyager Concept (Rick Sternbach)

Looking quite different to the sketches and models we have seen over the years this is what Rick Sternbach ultimately envisaged his Voyager design to be. There are distinctive Voyager sections in there with the most prominent difference being the shape, size and placement of the warp engines. I would have preferred to see the model version translated over to the collection in the future but for now this is great! Apologies to the Collection for borrowing their photo since this is about as accurate as we can get to the finished item.
Anticipation Factor: 5/5 

2. Bird of Prey landing position

You asked and it's arrived. Sensibly outside of the main line of issues which already contain two versions of the iconic Klingon starship.  No question whether or not you’d add it to the collection and I keep fingers crossed that this time the underside will receive some of that missing surface detail that has plagued the other two incarnations.
Anticipation Level: 3/5



3. USS Enterprise NCC-1701-F Odyssey Class

I've barely touched the world of Star Trek Online but this one is sure to be a sellout and while i will get it, it will be the first edition I have no real association with as part of the collection. The lines look stunning and there's more than a slight similarity to the USS Aventine. Nice to see Online get recognised and could be the first of several ships from the game if it's a success.
Anticipation Level: 4/5




4. Bonaventure Class

A concept designed to link the NX to the Constitution Class it wasn't actually the Bonaventure I was expecting. This one is particularly gorgeous and first came to light on the Ships of the Line calendars. Lots of design calls to both types of ships and a classic ‘What If’ concept from a popular Star Trek graphic series.
Anticipation Level: 4/5





5. USS Altair Voyager Concept (Doug Drexler)

One I didn't realise was originally conceived as a potential USS Voyager, the Altair also graced the pages of the Ships of the Line books and calendars. A major break in design from the standard expectations of a Federation starship, the wing-shaped primary hull is very out there and inspired from Doug Drexler. Distinct and unique, the Altair is a ship we may never have expected to see.
Anticipation Level: 4/5

6. USS Voyager assimilated

We’re going all out on Voyager aren’t we? The third of the bonus editions in this list returns to familiar TV ground with the starship covered in Borg technology from Scorpion, Part II. With this one, the other two concepts, the original and the armoured version from Endgame you could fill a shelf just with Voyager...
Anticipation Level: 4/5

Simply a jaw-dropping selection that comes from the fringes of the TV series and from the great drawer of concept designs. Tragically the concepts are more exciting to me than the regular issues we know are planned but this is one of the brilliant things with the collection in that it throws some stunning curve balls every so often - the Wolf 359 fleet, the Phase II concept, USS Titan or the Mirror ISS Enterprise - its what has made the Official Starship Collection so appealing.

Which of these announcements are you most interested in?


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Friday, 13 April 2018

Rounding Up: The Graphic Novel Collection Issues 28 - 31


Warping us right up to date with the Graphic Novel Collection are issues 28 through to 31 which finally gets me into Deep Space Nine territory.

Judgement Day lands us right into the midst of the fourth season of the space station drama with Worf and the Defiant appearing prominently.

A combination of two part-work stories, Judgement Day sees the crew introduced to a new alien race from the Gamma Quadrant who are on the run from the Dominion, the shadowy(!) Shadow Group and a rather disappointing episode involving yet another engineered virus striking the station.

Overall it's well executed and the sketchy illustrations make it stand out against the other series and productions. The likenesses for the crew and the ships are very close even with this more relaxed visual style and for once the story and the way in which the characters act is in line with my expectations of the series.

It does remain quite action-focused which is what I would expect from a graphic novel because of the nature of the beast. Deep and meaningful conversations have to be cut short for the sake of pacing and power of the visuals but Judgement Day succeeds on many levels. It's not one of my favourites from the series but it really does impact heavily and leaves a lasting impression.

The Classic UK Comics Part 3 fills out an entire volume with its return to 1950's style Flash Gordon sci-fi adventures. The colours, the dialogue, the very essence of the stories still makes you parallel to the continuing Gold Key tales.

Early Voyages Part 3 is bad...because it's the last one from this series of stories due to an untimely cancellation that cut the adventures short before they could be finished off as planned.

That doesn't mean that they're worth skipping because Early Voyages have some of the best storylines and artwork from any of the editions in this collection. Starting out we have Yeoman Colt time travelling to a possible future where Pike is captain of the Enterprise-A and Kirk has flushed his career, instead opting for a life as a merchant. Seeing the original Enterprise drydocked in the Smithsonian is a lovely shot within the story as is Pike in the monster maroon movie uniform.

Time travel isn't a new thing by any extreme in the Star Trek universe but to take it and spin it around the Pike era offers us a vision of a what if within a what if story and one that is great to read. 

Second out sees Pike on a secret mission while the Enterprise welcomes back her first captain, Robert April to act as overseer and advisor to Number One. It;s a story that wraps itself with covert infiltration, ties in older storylines from the short-lived Early Voyages series and even manages to nod to even older canon elements all in one go. 

Early Voyages has never failed to satisfy and its passing after only a smattering of issues is criminal to say the least. While it might have not been around for years, at least the quality of what was produced is at a high level and this will be one part of the collection I will be revisiting in the very near future.

Our fourth - and noticably thicker - volume is issue 31 and what I understand to be one of the "Can't miss" productions with DC's The Wormhole Connection. Once more we get one of those enticing "What If" scenarios but you have to remember that at the time that these stories were produced there was no Star Trek III.

What do I mean by that? Well, The Wormhole Connection takes place right after the events of The Wrath of Khan but instead of searching for Spock, the Enterprise is given back to Kirk and sent out into the field. 

It's brilliantly executed, cleverly weaving in new, "lower decks" characters to allow for development and give the writers something to play with when they couldn't adjust the main cast too much for contractual reasons. But this series is more than just giving us a snapshot of how the movie timeline could have veered off because the DC writers have this absolutely nailed. The dialogue between the cast crackles with life, the way in which they address each other is to point and there's even a rather clever reference back to Spock saying "Remember" before his death. Even better perhaps there's the musing from Sulu on when he will get his first command so we can get to see that these guys knew what they were getting into.

Interesting few notes as well that as you get further into this collection of stories, there are subtle nods to Star Trek III with mention of the Grissom and Captain Esteban and also the Excelsior Class meaning that the writers were fully aware of the onscreen situation. The Wormhole Connection is therefore just as fascinating a "missing era" if you will as The Next Generation's Beginnings or the Divided We Fall crossover because of the infinite possibilities and diversions that the writers have been able to take. Anyone else spot the intriguing parallels between Saavik's adoption by Spock's parents and a certain Michael Burnham for example...?

With the exception of The Classic UK Comics volume we are graced with the colourful adventures of the Gold Key series with three further stories; The Trial of Captain Kirk, Dwarf Planet and The Perfect Dream. I have received a little bit of stick over the drumming I've given these stories in the past but with each passing story I'm seeing a little more hope and a tiny shard more adherence to the Star Trek universe. It's got a chance to be redeemed...!

What was the highlight from these four editions? Was DC the pinnacle of Star Trek comics?


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Thursday, 12 April 2018

Peek at Pike


It seems almost beyond a certainty that we will get to step aboard the USS Enterprise in the second season of Discovery with the latest bit of casting news.

Anson Mount, most recently seen as Black Bolt in Marvel’s patchy Inhumans is set to take the centre seat of the most famous starship in Federation history. 

Mount becomes actor number four to take on the second captain of the starship after Jeffery Hunter, Sean Kenney and Bruce Greenwood and while the latter was great for the reboot Kelvin Timeline, physically Mount seems to fall firmly into more of the mound established in the original pilot episode. 

For those of you who are reading/have read Desperate Hours it might - some time soon - change your perception of the character of Pike who appears within its pages. Not only that but how faithfully will the series adhere to some of the pointers that have already been laid out on the page by David Mack?

If we are getting Pike then we will be seeing him accompanied by a Number One. and inevitably Spock which will be the killer casting of the three main roles on board NCC-1701. In the recent 50th anniverdary novel trilogy and in Desperate Hours, Number One is referred to as Commander Una - will canon TV episodes finally recognise this name?

Furthermore that whole issue of the uniforms will have to be addressed. In Desperate Hours the gold and blue uniforms we see in The Cage are referred to having only been issued to the crews of Constitution Class vessels. How closely will the impressive Discovery costuming department get to the originals? Will there be laser pistols? Clunky controls and retro console viewers? Hell, who could even attempt to portray these original original characters in the show? I can barely even comprehend the possible choices and I really wouldn't want to commit to anything at this stage. I believe there will be strong similarities to the source material but with a new era twist as per the Enterprise herself in those final moments of season one.

We have to assume that the Enterprise sets will be updated if only because of the clash there would be between 1960's and 2010's aesthetic. I get it, I do and I can’t understand why fans get so upset over the redesigning of elements to make them work better for a modern audience. Seeing a bleach white Enterprise sidle up to the bronzed, heavily detailed, Discovery would make it look like a freebie from the bottom of a cereal box. I say again, time’s changed. Move on.

But what a way to open the second season? The two crews joining together for some form of mission offers up all sorts of possibilities and we don’t even know who will be the new face behind the captaincy of the Discovery!

But back to Pike and to Mount - I think this is a classic bit of Star Trek casting because he comes across as a very severe actor. Certainly playing the mute Black Bolt took a different strength to act. Greenwood's Pike was a lot less severe than Hunter's version to an almost over-mellow calm at times but I think Mount will be portraying a more mature and commanding version of the role which will provide conflict amongst the Starfleet crews of the two ships. Might he even pull rank as he does within Desperate Hours?

For myself one of the key parts of the build up to Discovery’s launch was the gradual drop-feeding of information right up to the second before it landed and with the news on Mount’s casting we have the first truly solid signs that Discovery will be back soon....ish.

EXTRA!!!

Just as I was about to hit PUBLISH we got some further news that Tig Notaro will be guest-starring in season two as Chief Engineer Denise Reno of the USS Hiawatha. Notable in the ship name club for its use of Native American heritage alongside such ships as the Crazy Horse from The Next Generation. I'm not familiar with any of Tig's work but the addition of this guest role suggests we will be seeing a lot more of Starfleet than just the Discovery and the Enterprise in season two - and fairly early in the episode schedule as well since this comes only days after the Pike announcement.

Who would you cast as Spock or Number One? What names come to mind?


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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Rounding Up: The Graphic Novel Collection Issues 24 - 27


Bringing us more up to date with the Graphic Novel Collection, here are the next four in our recap sessions...

The Newspaper Strips Vol 2 is another of those that I find hard to digest in anything less than a handful of reading sessions. The content itself though is way above that of The Classic UK Comic Strips using the source material much more closely and drawing on the past of the franchise to really fill out the action.


Set after the events of The Motion Picture and using the rather bland range of unitard uniforms, Kirk and crew are depicted returning to the unknown in some truly beautifully illustrated stories. 

Given their nature of being a newspaper comic strip each bite of the tale is punchy and leaves you on a pretty abrupt cliffhanging moment each time. The stories aren't too deep either with Klingon and alien attacks plus a par-for-the-course virus and the return of the mustachioed Harcourt Fenton Mudd to round out the adventures.

Honestly though, for me the artwork in this volume is just standout gorgeous flicking between colour and black and white but for something produced at such a pivotal time in Star Trek history, the way in which the artists have captured the likenesses of the crew and the ship is truly striking. It's also a lovely precursor to the more visually accurate material of the 80's and beyond and goes to show that Star Trek was being taken much more seriously as a product. It was finally getting the proper treatment it deserved on the page rather than being just a jaded knock off from 50's serials that had nothing to do with Roddenberry's vision. I'm not saying that these strips are perfect, far from it because they do still tend to lean towards the fantastical rather than the human condition (but then would you really want something that deep in a daily newspaper strip?) but they are at least heading in a familiar and grounded direction.

Star Trek After Darkness offers a chance to see what happened in the years between the end of the second JJ movie and Beyond. Including Carol Marcus, the Enterprise crew take on a series of new adventures as they, finally, go where no one has gone before.

Choosing not only to look into the future (as they thought then), After Darkness also flips back in time to give us the origin stories for both Chekov and Scotty which led them to their appearances in the 2009 reboot. As always the writing and artwork in these fairly recent offerings are magnificent and thoroughly engrossing giving much more depth to the JJ-verse which is sorely needed since its novel line was cancelled and there is a minimal amount of screentime to refer back to.

The third of these stories might cause a bit of controversy since it chooses to tackle Vulcan Ponn Farr and therefore effectively rewrite the events of Amok Time. This one heads into a lot darker corridors than Spock taking chunks out of Kirk with a giant cotton bud on Vulcan, pushing him right to the edge of sanity and back again. It's a brave choice to tackle such a reverred point in The Original Series but then these volumes have never shied away from a challenge as we've seen in reworkings of other classics such as Where No Man Has Gone Before and The Galileo Seven. Here though it's a big leap and I believe it pays off because it is such a different spin on events.

I continue to be a fan of these Kelvin Timeline stories because of their risk taking with recognised events and the different ways they have faced the change in circumstances following the arrival of Nero and his converted mining ship. Looking forward to the next one of these already!

Khan - Ruling in Hell is just a graphic novel masterpiece without question and one of the highlights of the whole damn series.

Storywise this covers everything from the moment Kirk and the Enterprise dropped the Botany Bay at Ceti Alpha V right up to the very end of The Wrath of Khan.  The artwork is brilliant, encapsulating the dangers and adventures that befall the genetic superhumans before the neighbouring sixth planet explodes and alters the orbit of their enforced home.

As with Assignment: Earth it also takes us ostensibly away from the Enterprise and her mission to something very, very different. We see Khan endure the highs of the challenge to colonise his new world through to the crushing death of his wife as well as internal attempts from his own people to overthrow him. 

The recreation of The Wrath of Khan is another classic comic strip that condenses the landmark Star Trek movie into a great read. The characterisation of Khan, Joachim and even McGivers is tremendous with some fantastic and very accurate artwork to back it all up. 

It took me about seven pages before I realised that I’d actually read issue one of the TNG: Beginnings collection back in c.1989 just when The Next Generation has launched on UK TV. In fact the back of the comic had been filled with a plot synopsis and pics from the upcoming episode, Datalore.

How did I remember? Because of the bloody annoying Bickering Bickleys. One of the worst things to ever grace any part of the franchise...so pretty fortunate that while they do turn up with more frightening regularity than I would like, they aren’t prominently featured in any of the tales contained therein. 

Beginnings is as odd a beast to the Star Trek graphic novels as the Divided We Fall crossover that was only released a few months ago in that it offers a perspective on familiar characters if things had developed a different way. To be honest things would have had to develop in a rather severe manner for these interpretations of the Enterprise-D crew to manifest so count yourselves lucky.

The stories here are somewhat fantastical with giant killer robots, festive adventures with baddies that look like the Grinch and the return of the Q Continuum. All in all these stories seem only a couple of steps away from some of the tales scripted by Gold Key!

You can tell how early in the development of The Next Generation this series came about because of the way that some of the crew are portrayed. Notably Data uses contractions all over the place, gets emotional and even starts a fight. Deanna seems to have varying abilities given the needs of the story from latent telepathy to full blown psychic waves. As for Wesley he’s even more super annoying than he ever was in the first season on TV, ranging from being a super nerd through to a precocious best at the other extreme.

Beginnings does have some bits right with Riker more in charge of away missions and Picard remaining on the Enterprise although everyone seems to have had an incredible workout regime looking like stars from a body building magazine including the captain. 

In all fairness some of the stories do drone on a bit but because of the inconsistencies between page and screen I did find this difficult to get into 30 years after I read the first issue. The artwork is far too stylised for me when it comes to the portrayal of the cast and their physiques plus the likenesses are far from accurate especially Data and Q is virtually unrecognisable. Actually on that count he’s unrecognisable in both form and character and while this story does parallel events from Deja Q I never recall De Lancie ever becoming this obnoxious even at Q’s worst moments.

What a lot of these graphic novel installments show are the various directions Star Trek could have gone in if onscreen events had transpired in a different manner. It also illustrates what the opinion of these writers was as to what the franchise stood for and what they understood it should be. Each of the stories is incredibly individualistic and Beginnings especially offers a perspective that we never even got slightly close to in the TV series of The Next Generation. These stories are as prolific as they are conceptual and getting into this batch really offers something new - perhaps not great - but definitely new to the Star Trek universe.

As ever these issues wouldn't be half the fun without the wonders of the Gold Key universe and its gradual - very gradual - work towards looking something like Star Trek. With these editions we can engage with the fantastical universe once again in The Mummies of Heitius VII, Siege in Superspace and Child's Play. For note, the Newspaper Strips volume does not contain a Gold Key story (phew - a break!). Utter escapism every time and none to serious. It's almost as if Gold Key realised it was in fact parodying itself through its own writing...

Next up we have issues 28 - 31 which brings us (almost) bang up to date. 


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Thursday, 22 March 2018

Over and Over...: The Official Starships Collection Issues 120 and 121


The USS Bozeman NCC-1941 is possibly one of the most famous starships in Star Trek history outside of craft called Enterprise.

Going back four odd years the conversations suggested that because this was just a variant on a Miranda Class theme it might never see the light of day. However, due to overwhelming popularity and the continued success of the series itself we finally have the Soyuz Class science vessel. 

The second model to be produced in the series based on the USS Reliant (the first being the USS Saratoga), the Bozeman has the most alterations to its physical form. Indeed the shape of the ship with its single saucer hull and two underslung warp nacelles is immediately identifiable but there's lots of new bits to explore.

The topside of the hull has a wonderful aztec paint scheme that is punctuated with some very precise detailing touches. The panelling is very clear with crisp lines running across the semi-circular front section and also the rear rectangular engineering area. The triple phaser banks are painted in accurately and even the ship registry is almost perfect except for a tiny misalignment of the red bordering to the black lettering - but it's annoyingly close. It's also missing the RCS thruster points that are evident on the Reliant saucer. Right around the edge of the saucer though is an unusual piece of decalling in the form of the ship name and numbers.

The striking inclusion on the top though are the red edging strips which run around the base of the bridge module and also bordering the registry itself. The numbers are a little out of alignment with the strips but the overall effect is very good. The bridge module at the centre of the hull has another strip around its base with a darker ring of grey at its base. There's some minor window detail and the dome has another of those distinct red strips at its centre plus turbolift "Mickey Mouse" ears. Admittedly in the episode we didn't get too clear a glance at the top of the bridge module but against the Reliant and Saratoga there's a difference of detail between all three dependant on what refit we look at. 

Very impressed that Eaglemoss have managed to add in the tiny Starfleet deltas on top of the two weapon units either side of the bridge.

Both the Saratoga and the Bozeman are missing the signature rollbar over the flat rear of the hull which means we get a clearer view of the mechanics in the darker grey banks that run to the back of the craft. There's some good raised engineering works in these two areas although on screen there seemed to be more definition to the height of the components but the scale here isn't conducive to these more fiddly elements.

The biggest addition to the hull is the rear block that connects the deck to two of the outlying sensor pods. That's sensor pods and not guns even though they look like the latter. More great hull detail here with the top arm holding the sensor pod in metal with the pod itself plastic. Also at the back of that block there's a third

On the bottom of the Bozeman the plastic sections carry on with the aztec patterning and has a second set of striping either side of the smaller NCC-1941 registry. These strips line up with the numbers a lot better than the ones on the top and even the red outer of the script is tighter to the black. 

This lighter paint finish really does enhance the detail on the surface of the Bozeman and the underside benefits from this with even more lining all the way round. At the middle of the saucer this time isn't a standard sensor dome but what looks like some heavy-duty gun emplacement. Once more it's a sensor platform bristling with antennae and the number of fine aerials sticking out is not a regular occurence in the collection. 

The plastic inlay sits very well on the ship feeding right to the back with the rear block pod splitting horizontally for the two sections to join with very little impact on the surface finish. 

At the back of the vessel there is a large dark grey section which bears more mechanical gubbins than the two banks on the top. At the middle of this technical section we have the lower warp field generator which is a hold over from the earlier Reliant

Attached under the port and starboard sensor pods are the warp nacelles are fully plastic without even a trace of translucent plastic to brighten them up. The warp field grilles are all painted on and not very tidily at the very ends with some signs of gaps in the curves.The nacelles are two clips together halves and what I have noticed here is that some of the points on that join line are quite jagged on the starboard engine. At the back of both of the units there is the ship name and registry while the connecting pylons carry the Starfleet pennant.

In the magazine we have some good CG images of the Soyuz Class ship plus a bit more on its operational life including a couple of "Easter Egg" mentions it received in Generations and First Contact. The design section revolves around how the production team could make this look different with some alterations to the original Reliant model and the purpose of these added extras. 

Finally - and in keeping with the recent choice of articles in the magazines we have a section devoted to the fifth season of The Next Generation touching on key episodes such as Redemption II, The Game, The First Duty, The Inner Light and of course, Cause and Effect.

The Xhosa from issue 121 is a strange one. A ship that was mentioned multiple times in the latter half of Deep Space Nine's run but seen less than a handful of times - in fact twice in The Way of the Warrior and For the Cause from the following fifth season.

Given that its appearances were few (very few) and far between, I can't really get an idea of the true accuracy of the piece in relation to its onscreen counterpart. It also weighs a flippin' ton and must be about the heaviest starship produced for the collection. Is there a lump of concrete in each one?!

First impression here - this isn’t very exciting. It’s fairly rectangular although there is a high density of surface detail from bow to stern. The forward command/bridge section has a raked nose which is covered in multiple raised panels and callouts of some description. 

At the base of it, the Xhosa has a plain grey coat with two shades of darker greys to show off the protrusions and hatches. Some of the detail to either side of the bridge unit does seem washed out and not as prominent which looks due to a machining choice rather than overpainting. There are also a few green ventilation points on that forward section once more breaking up the uniform hull colour. 

Things get a lot more interesting as we get onto the rear section which opens up with a larger, blockier built up unit that also shows off lots of conduits and panelling plus a subspace antenna that sticks forward and is a plastic insert piece into the large metal top section. 

Moving to the main cargo section and the more rectangular slab, the detailhere seems to get better even though it's the same metal as the forward piece. The panelling is particularly crisp with the brown slatted cargo hatches standing out against the hull and surrounded by more light grey highlights. The callouts on the back end are really nice and clear on the Xhosa although the panel details on the slanted sides that drop away to the bottom don't have the definition of the top section. The panel lines are a lot smoother and seem to mould into the hull without a sharp edge in sight. 

At the back we have the triple engines and there's a unique paint effect here with the exhausts appearing to be burnt with an orange/red tone lightly sprayed into each of the units.

Now, to the underside and from the over abundance of detail on the hull, the bottom is terribly underwhelming. First off this piece is a plastic insert that runs from the nose right to the back (just in front of the engines) and it's super, super bland. The detail is not in keeping with the feel of the topside with only a couple of distinguishing features evident in the two darker shades of grey to contrast against the base coat. Problem is that the lack of details means that it looks awfully fake and flat. I would have expected more to be on there but, I suppose, since it's not going to be seen that much it doesn't matter too much.

As for the stand fitting, the clear grip piece fits smoothly over the engines and above and below the rear section but there's still a lot of weight in there all resting back on the slim neck fitted into the black base so just be aware that there could be a balancing act here.

The magazine takes us through the appearances of the Xhosa in the fourth season of Deep Space Nine plus some of its more basic features plus some of the best CG images of any ship I've seen in the collection. Honestly, some of the shots produced for this issue are class and give the ship a lot more wear and depth to its features than you can see on the model.

The placing of the detail on the metal craft is very precise and compares favourably with the plan views contained in the magazine. What the lack of portholes or windows does mean is that you lose a sense of scale against other ships in the collection. Even putting her besides something like the Defiant doesn't real help because the hull is only covered with hatches and access panel-like features.

What I did appreciate after reading this issue is how many times this ship has been used and reused again and again with a nip here and a tuck there, all starting back with the Batris from The Next Generation's Heart of Glory. Whether, as with the Bajoran Freighter, we will ever see some of these variants is open to debate but since we have the Smugglers Ship and also the various modded versions of the Reliant I can't see why one or two of these wouldn't end up as future releases. Indeed, I think the Batris would make quite a popular addition to the series.

Now while some elements of the model are disappointing with the Xhosa, the mag is a different kettle of fish, with six pages dedicated to the work of John Eaves on updating the armaments of Deep Space Nine for The Way of the Warrior. The illustrations are amazing to pour over with both the phaser and torpedo pods examined as well as the reasons behind their positioning and concealment. A great section and makes up for some of the seeming sloppy ventral detail on the Xhosa's hull.

Ok, I love the Bozeman and for the most part the Xhosa is a good model even if lacking in those underside finishing touches. A good pairing that have appeared in other guises over the course of nearly 40 years of the franchise. While my Deep Space Nine love should make me lean more towards Kasidy Yates' freighter I have to say I'm more impressed with the classic lines of Captain Bateson's starship. With previous experience of freighters - Horizon, Fortunate and even the Malon, there have been mixed to brilliant results with these auxiliary vessels. Of the Miranda variants I really do love the Bozeman to the point where it might be my favourite of the three, even over the original version from The Wrath of Khan.

Next month we have the kitbash of all kitbashes with the Yeager Class and another ship which started out in a slightly different form with the Romulan Science Vessel. Refreshing my mind in regards to my anticipation levels, this might not be an especially exciting duo...!

Liking the Bozeman? Fan of the Xhosa?


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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Rounding Up: The Graphic Novel Collection Issues 20 - 23


Next up in the ever growing Graphic Novel Collection comes the Classic UK Comics with more retro ‘50’s style shenanigans. Clive and Ian take a look...


I'll be straight up with this one, the UK Comics can be a bit of a drag to get through and while the Kelvin timeline and The Next Generation stories can be a one-sit-and-done these require a more dedicated span of attention due to the smaller story panels and even smaller text. 

What you also find with these is that they tend to lean towards less that Star Trek relevant stories choosing to head into generic sci-fi story territory rather than pushing that envelope and doing something unique and different. It does make for some interesting dipping in and out on occasion,reading a story then dropping into something more recent for a rest. The illustrations are very similar to those in Flash Gordon and other more 50's sci-fi themed outings but they do seem to toe the line on tech and the sets a lot more than Gold Key ever attempted - at least the bridge looks like the bridge and the characters have at least more than a passing passing resemblance to their onscreen counterparts. Some great things to watch out for as you're reading through - lizard aliens, classical Rome and the most bizarre planet-fall landing of a Star Trek starship ever; I kid you not.

Second up in issue 21 is the first trip out to the depths of the Delta Quadrant and aboard Voyager. This collection is set during the third season of the show and prior to the Doctor receiving the holo-emitter meaning we get him confined to sickbay and the holodeck as well as the young Ocampan Kes.   

The stories seem to try and keep in line with the televised episodes, returning both the Talaxians and the Kazon to the story as the former attempt to secure Voyager for the Trabe in what is a very fast-paced tale to open this volume. Graphically the stories do the ships some justice but their visual interpretations of the crew are sketchy at best. Fortunately the stories are compelling and do try and follow some sort of canonical references keeping them firmly placed within the Voyager timeline. While the artwork can be hit and miss at times with these stories they're as good a read as any and once I'd dived into a few pages I found myself easily swayed and totally hooked into some very well crafted adventures.

The Voyager stories are a little more gung-ho than you might have expected but they are all high on action and low (for once) on the technobabble which means you get a much better fill of story and can follow every line. It's not as overdramatic as the recent reprints of the Marvel and UK comic series but it's not as clean cut and crisply written as you would find in one of the Kelvin universe or The Next Generation volumes from the last decade.

Oddly this volume has a fascination with the Kazon/Trabe fracture in the Delta Quadrant with a good four fifths of the stories using this as its centrepoint. It definitely makes for an action packed narrative but maybe it overplays the phaser shooting and fist-fighting that Star Trek didn’t need to rely on to tell a story. These tales do keep with the nicey-nice Maquis/Starfleet unity and tow the line but it does feel a touch lifeless
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Issue 22 slips us into the realms of Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation with Divided We Fall. Once again there's some tight storytelling, a mix of characters all thrown together and some little signs that mean you can place the time this was written precisely - Riker is clean shaven and there's a Trill officer at the Conn; yes, this was produced just after Insurrection was released and as such the events of Nemesis have no recrimination here.


It's a brilliant story, planned well and offering up one might-have-been moment in Star Trek lore. I love these kind of stories where what actually happened and what was envisaged are completely different because of the perspectives involved. The choice to use Verad from Invasive Procedures as the antagonist here might initially seem a bad idea since that's once of Deep Space Nine's weaker season two installments but it does actually work and by an even further twist we manage to pull in the first onscreen Trill, Odan from The Host. Not just that but Elias Vaughn and Thirishar ch’Thane from the Literary Universe are also pulled into the unfolding events making this one hell of a multi-format crossover spectacular. It really is a story that pulls out all the stops when it comes to both character and action with storyboards that are crisply executed with a decent likeness for the established roster of crew. Great from start to finish this is one of the greats of the collection so far however...



Issue 23 and Assignment Earth. Now this is our first real diversion away from the mainstream Star Trek content, taking us back to the final episode of the second season of The Original Series and the appearance of one Gary Seven, a transmorphic cat called Isis and his secretary Roberta Lincoln.


Now it does have a couple of cute crossover moments in here which ping us back again into Tomorrow is Yesterday to see it from a perspective not unlike that we experienced with Trials and Tribble-ations but on the whole these are a whole new set of adventures which revolve around this unique investigator. This volume gives a voice to a what could have been in much the same way that Divided We Fall offers a divergence into a Star Trek had Nemesis never happened. It's a lot more fun, more colourful and fast-paced than regular Star Trek adventures as it's not enforced to work to the same set of rules or formula even though it's set within the same universe. Could this be someone who could turn up in Discovery? I don't see why not but I would imagine Aaron Harberts and Ted Sullivan would want to tone him down and make his ethics and drives a lot darker than we get here.


Of the whole selection we're covering off here this was easily my favourite. It offered a new dynamic to the Star Trek universe through a series of quite un-Star Trek like tales set in the 1960's USA. These do feel a little more cartoonish in style but there's a lot of life and a lot to love about their content. An odd inclusion but a great one to get hold of and experience a series that never actually was!


On the flip side however my colleague Ian found this a little bit dull and pedestrian -which he has found to occur in previous works by the Tipton brothers. Also in this volume we have A World Gone Mad from Gold Key It has its usual wackiness that you would expect and you get Spock uttering the immortal line “That's no way for a sister to be acting”;I wonder why that one didn’t catch on!!


Backing up the latter three of the four editions is our old faithful Gold Key stories from the early 1970's. This time we have the joys of The Hijacked Planet, The Haunted Asteroid and A World Gone Mad, all of which take us into more Star Trek-foundation (and pretty much everything else) ignoring all the way. They do have a lot in common with the UK Comics editions more than anything although as we do get further into the back catalogue there are occasional signs that the writers and illustrators were starting to consider actually getting a shade nearer canon even if its just in uniform colours. Also a note from Ian on this one around The Haunted Asteroid in that it introduces Doctor Krisp who will turn up again in future stories - a first in the form of a recurring character created for the Gold Key series.



Right then - that's our first of three round robin catchups for the Graphic Novel series. Our next will cover issues 24 - 27...

Any of these floating your boat? What's been the highlight of the collection so far?

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