Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Collective Intelligence: The Graphic Novel Collection Issue Three

Up to full price this week as issue three of the Graphic Novel Collection arrives on shelves.

For your £9.99 at newsagents you won;t even get a double size piece of backing cardboard as it's business as usual with Hive, our third representative from the folds of IDW.  Yes, we're here for some time too as everything to issue six is also IDW and therefore fairly recent in Star Trek graphic novel history.

However, Hive is a phenomenal read at every turn, giving us a twist in the future history of the franchise and paving a vision of what might happen should the Borg finally manage to assimilate everything and a last line of resistance in the form of a reborn android and his former commanding officer.

From a story by Star Trek writer/producer Brannon Braga comes a time-warping, generation-spanning adventure that should be the be all and end all for the malevolent Borg and stretches across five centuries from the re-assimilation of one Locutus to the events which unfold here. 

The four-part tale places the Federation under direct peril once again from their ultimate enemy but there might be a way to salvation with the help of returning Voyager character Seven of Nine. Rather less than a textbook encounter, writers Terry Matalas and Trevor Pickett keep the story moving at a searing rate flipping from the 24th Century into the more distant future and the post-Borg apocalypse across the volume and still manage to neatly bring all the elements together and, it goes without saying, save the day (I'm really not ruining the ending there, trust me). 

Illustration wise the art of Joe Corroney is much more sketchy and evidently darker than we experience with J K Woodward in The City on the Edge of Forever who was going more for a photo-realistic delivery but it is similar to David Messina's work which was the opening volume in Countdown. I find Corroney to be a little more interpretive than Messina with his artwork being a little more flourished and less restricted. Indeed, Countdown had to tie into a movie while Corroney has the opportunity to throw in some ship designs, tweak the Borg Queen and come up with a whole new concept for the 29th Century and its Borg-dominated landscape. 

What I am liking about the collection is the choice to add in a small history lesson around the writers and the time at which the story was originally written. It helps make these volumes accessible to all and adds a bit more depth to proceedings. The other inclusion of artwork is a nice move too with cover art work and some original page work to cast your eyes over. It's the inclusion of these titbits that make this all the better as a collection.

And then there's Gold Key number three, Invasion of the City Builders.

I'm sure everything that can be said has been said when it comes to this late 1960's attempt to bring Star Trek to the comic book market. All the great errors and misunderstandings that pervaded the previous two stories are still here but this time they even manage to cram in the Enterprise flying inside an atmosphere on its rockets. I have no words, honestly.

BUT it's a great action/adventure story that would have been greatly welcomed at a time where there was very little Star Trek apart from the episodes that were screened on the TV and then there wasn't a massive following as history purports to tell us time and time again. For effort it will always get high marks but with the quality we are presented in Hive and in the previous title stories, the Gold Key archive is a twee add-on to fill out the issue and "complete" the collection. Warning; we have at least two more coming in issues four and five according to the blurb on the back of the issue three packing card.

So far I've been very impressed with the quality of the collection and, because I've never read any of these stories it's all fresh so I'm getting value for money without question. I think the only thing I could point a finger at is the variety we've had to date - only Gold Key and IDW and none of the other publishers we've been promised on the backing cards from issues one and two. I would hope this is going to be corrected as soon as possible for a better spread across the years although I'm in no way saying that the offerings have been poor. Just give us something a bit different...!

Next up - and what should be my first subscription delivery (late starter what can I say...) is Spock: Reflections and The Next Generation's The Space Between. Counting the days now.

Subscribing or cherry picking your issues? What stories do you hope the collection will include? Let us know below!

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