Sunday, 23 April 2017

Filling Out the (Kelvin) Past: The Graphic Novel Collection Issues Six and Seven


The 2009 reboot movie has to be one of the elements of the Star Trek franchise that has been mined the most in recent years.

In the case of the newly released Graphic Novel Collection from Eaglemoss, three of the first seven issues have been in some way linked directly to the JJ Abrams film with Countdown and now Nero and The Official Movie Adaptation adding weight. 

But before you groan about the reboot taking focus or that it's not great, I'd recommend visiting - or maybe revisiting the expanded stories that came out of the reboot. Countdown itself is a brilliant story that links the Prime Universe with the Kelvin timeline, including Picard, Data and a host of other recognisables to gel the two visions of Star Trek together.

Nero (issue six) adds another element to the mixture. While Countdown deals with all the matters leading up to the disappearance of the Narada and Spock, this tale from Tim Jones and Mike Johnson gets into the detail of precisely what Nero and his Romulan associates were doing for the best part of a quarter of a century. I can tell you they weren't sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for Spock.

Another great piece of Star Trek comes from IDW with this one. The depth that the graphic novels adds to the Kelvin timeline is exceptional here and in all the other related volumes. The artwork too across the JJ-verse is also uniform giving it an important sense of continuity. A lot of Nero's scenes were meant to be included but ultimately were cut for time (even the prison scene had a clip used in the promo trailers) so we can take this as near as canon as possible. Indeed, those parts remain in the novelisation but more on that shortly.

Of the releases thus far and including the adaptation of the 2009 movie this slips into second place behind the exceptional Spock: Reflections which has already received a second read-through for being just so damn brilliant. 

Nero's character in his eponymous graphic novel is perhaps a little edgier than we got to see on the screen. The brutality he shows towards Captain Robeau of the Kelvin as well as the grief and pain he is suffering are more vividly realised within the pages of this story. It treats the Romulans with respect and might even help you get another angle on the reboot movie which doesn't expand Nero much beyond his revenge seeking. This expands the character and rounds the story much more satisfactorily and ticks off a lot of questions including that chunk missing from his ear.

It's a good read that's backed up by an entertaining romp through Gold Key's impression of Star Trek from the end of the 1960's in When Planets Collide. Now I actually read this edition and the one included with the motion picture adaptation through cover to cover and slowly as not to miss anything and I definitely didn't.

It's just as camp and retro as always with a ton of obvious oversights thrown in for... well...I'm not sure anymore. Spock works out a challenge with a set square at one point, Scotty has blonde hair and the Enterprise likes taking a dip into the atmosphere. You'd be forgiven for thinking that Abrams was taking this as his base reference material given some of the instances filmed for Into Darkness.


Stepping from issue six into issue seven we have the graphic interpretation of the 2009 movie reboot. Another damn fine piece of reading if ever there was. Admittedly it's a shaved down version of the movie so don't expect a full blow by blow account since there's only a certain amount of space. For instance the chase sequence between Kirk and the creatures on Delta Vega is severely chopped which manages to keep the suspense but not get dragged out over about 15 pages.  Here we do get a good look through at several deleted scenes and an alternative order to the film which, as said, also exists in the novelisation but was switched for dramatic effect onscreen.

Stylistically this is just as good as Countdown, Spock: Reflections and Nero but still manages to feel like a little bit of a cash in just being an adaptation of the movie. What I find that these 2009-linked novels does show is just how far IDW has come since The Space Between in the quality of the material they are capable of producing. This may very well just be down to the different style of the artists that I seem to be preferring. The recreations of the Narada, the destruction of the Kelvin and the first look at the new Enterprise are just beautifully presented in this volume. To be honest the recreation of all of the movie is pretty impressive with some very precise copies of scenes and moments taken directly off the screen and onto the page.

Even though I've seen this a ton of times, experiencing it in a different format really made me appreciate some of the finer points of the reboot and helped connect me more strongly to the movie thanks to the insertion of those deleted moments.

The Voodoo Planet, the included Gold Key extra this time is the most interesting of their Star Trek attempts to date with a weird concept of a paper mache Earth and some Vulcan mystic rituals. It all gets a bit over far-fetched here and at no point could I feasibly imagine the crew of the Enterprise being involved in what I can only describe as a "caper" of this type. I can barely imagine what we have left to come from the Gold Key archive and this is only issue seven.

If I'm looking for redeeming features here it has to be the fact that Gold Key managed to keep Star Trek alive in print for the best part of a decade with this one marking the last story to be released while the series was still being produced in the US. 

If I go back to the start of the collection just a few months ago I was pretty skeptical over this part of the collection but after giving the later two stories a good chance to impress I found them to be...ok. One hundred percent these are boys own adventure type stories that have little to none of the underlying moralising and deeper meaning that televised Star Trek attempted keeping it much more to superficial action adventure, danger and explosions. If you've skipped through them I'd go back and have a read at least once.

More exciting might be the subs gift that appeared this issue. Containing six mini movie posters in a tin, these little additions will have more added to each ten issues. With the tin this time we have the posters for The Motion Picture, The Undiscovered Country, Generations, Nemesis, the 209 reboot and an oddment in the Countdown to Darkness titled card rather than Into Darkness. The quality of the prints is decent on some and somewhat gravelly on others - the Countdown to Darkness one especially isn't the best. It's a nice touch and a decent set once complete. We are informed that subscribers will be receiving further prints every ten issues. For reference premium subscribers will be also receive one of four photo-novels every 20 issues. That's a lot of stuff with the metallic Gold Key covers due with delivery four and the Federation/Klingon bookends also coming with delivery six.

Next month's double brings us to Star Trek: Starfleet Academy again from IDW and our first non-IDW production with Marvel Comics Early Voyages Part 1. Good to see us stepping into other publishing realms at long last!

Looking forward to a particular story? Concerned that it's been IDW-heavy so far?


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