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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