Thursday, 27 July 2017

The Original: The Official Starships Collection Issues 100 and 101

So we come to the 100th issue of the Starships Collection. A point many expected but one few have space to display. By mere coincidence this is the 600th Some Kind of Star Trek post!!!

Fittingly this centennial edition, just as the 50th did, takes us right back to the show's origins and perhaps even more so than NCC-1701.

Back in the day, Matt Jeffries designed the USS Enterprise but what first spewed forth onto the page wasn't the familiar shape we know today from The Original Series but this, what is now known as the Daedalus Class.

Jeffries original sketches suggested a more cylindrical secondary hull and a spherical primary hull to get away from the cliched 'flying saucer' however we know how that turned out!

What we have with issue 100 is an amalgamation - a fusion of Jefferies design, the enhancements Mike Okuda made for the colour and black and white editions of the Star Trek Chronology and updates included for this collection. 

Let's get down to it. You know this is one of those essential models. One that you have to have because of its place in franchise history and it will entice discussion since it's the first ship that hasn't really appeared on screen aside from a model in Sisko's office.

Labelled up as the USS Horizon, the ship firmly placed its links to The Original Series and specifically A Piece of the Action in which this craft was mentioned. At the front the spherical primary hull sits bold and proud emblazoned with the ships name - but it actually seems to be lacking in any finer detail. There's the grey colour scheme all over but when it comes to windows and definition that can be clearly seen on the magazine it's oddly devoid of such precision. The mould is a good quality finish with the metallic ball joining to the secondary hull through the spindly, horizontal neck section which seems better finished than the 'head'. Horribly - and most evident in the headline picture are the window alignments on the hull - they're a mile out and honestly, the deflector looks a bit cheap. Comparing it to the plan views it should be a more subtle colour shade of grey rather than an emblazoned blue.

Given that this is an interpretation of a classic design/sketch I'm going to go a little easy on this one but in some ways it does feel uncomfortably unfinished. The panel lines fee washed out and faint, almost over-simplistic which provides a very severe opposite to the back end.

Moving back to the cylindrical secondary hull the detailing does increase noticeably. Panel lines are more clearly etched in and form is given much more shape and finery. While you could probably push to say that the primary hull has nice impulse engines and no bad join lines, the rear section feels like a ship and looks like a ship. It's complete, worked and feels like they didn't give up halfway through. 

For example there is much more structure to the additional airlocks on either side and fortunately the registry decals are perfectly aligned unlike we saw on the early prototype. Oddly the back end looks like a crisp metal finish while the sphere feels like a half-assed plastic blob. 

What is really nice about the secondary hull is the way in which the rear is properly finished with ship registry and, significantly, a shuttle bay and navigation lights. It makes the Horizon a complete 'thing' from every angle and makes her functional. 

Now head out sideways from the barrel-shaped hull to the parallel warp nacelles. As with the secondary hull there is much more definition and the lines provide something of a primitive and industrial visualisation to the class. The rear exhausts are open as opposed to the grilles or 'balls' of the later Constitution Class and once more evoke a more basic sense of space exploration in the 22nd Century. 

The great thing with the Horizon (second ship in the collection with that name ladies and gents), is the percentage of metal over plastic. The whole of the sphere plus the neck, pylons and top half of the secondary hull is all metal. Yes, honestly, that's a lot of metal and a half. Only the lower half of the barrel-shaped engineering section plus the nacelles and the shuttlebay doors are plastic. Given the way that production has come on, the difference in surface quality is pretty good and at one point I couldn't tell if the whole of the secondary hull was metal or not.

What does seem over basic are the bussard collectors. The finish on the Mirror ISS Enterprise engines had smaller spikes to the front but here they are moulded into the caps and seem ridiculously out of place. Definitely oversized for the ship and certainly lacking in the subtlety that we saw on the ISS Enterprise

Stand fitting is straightforward slipping right over the warp pylons and holding the USS Horizon firmly in place. No movement today people and she's nice and level for display.

The magazine does offer some general background to the fictional class of starship including their introduction to the fleet as well as the influence of at least three of the class - Horizon, Essex and Archon on the galaxy and therefore a few episodes of the Star Trek franchise. Nicely though this issue does spread its coverage of The Return of the Archons, A Piece of the Action and The Next Generation's Power Play throughout rather than having a heavy focus on just one of the stories. 

The views of the ship are lovely and crisp although we still, one hundred issues in, still point out just the minimal basics. Have to admit that the renderings here are really good so at least they're not over labelled!!!

The Designing the Daedalus Class section misses a trick I think, choosing to focus more on the redesigning of the ship for the Chronology and this publication. Of course that's not something that will have been extensively documented but the omission of the original Matt Jefferies sketches in a piece about something he was ultimately responsible for envisioning is glaring.

Yet this still remains a good read as you get more of a grip on what was altered and how the class came to look as it does now in the Starships Collection. Particularly nice to understand how some of the smaller detail was incorporated such as the navigational deflector and impulse engines which weren't considered back in those original drawings.

As the collection has now surpassed another milestone the articles in the magazine are spreading the wings too with this issue covering The Star Trek History of Space Exploration. A fairly daunting title since that's effectively what the show - and the franchise - are about but Eaglemoss have managed to condense this down to exploration prior to Enterprise. This does allow the article to delve into First Contact and the Vulcans, the Botany Bay and Khan as well as diverting into other elements seen in the series such as the NASA ship from The Royale and early explorers such as the Ares IV from One Small Step in Voyager and the Mariposa DY-500 Class craft from The Next Generation's Up the Long Ladder. When you get into this piece you realise just how much the show managed to cover!

Issue 101 was a bloody good surprise. I genuinely lined myself up to give this one a bashing as I expected it to be just as 'brilliant' as the other Bajoran ships of which we have had three to daye including the magically unstable and home-movers nightmare, the Bajoran Solar Sailer. I mean, you can package this one till hell freezes and it'll still break. 

The Bajoran Antares Class freighter is a right chunky wedge of a starship and possibly the best offering from the nasally ridged humanoids. A ship of this shape may not immediately seem like the biggest draw but there's a good deal going for it here. 

The solid brown tone on the hull help to back the aged craft and make it feel fairly rustic. It is a very basic paint scheme with only a few sporadic grey panels to relieve the single shade. Right across the surface there are a considerable number of windows/portholes clearly visible although there does seem to be a discrepancy between the number on the ship and the number of the CG model in the magazine. 

What helps to set it apart is the external detail bolted onto the freighter's skin. There is trunking, machinery and general macguffins to help build up the detail and enhance the overall look of the craft. It might in essence be a single hulled slab but the finishing intricacies help pull it towards being something more interesting. The upper half of the ship is a chunk of metalwork with the exception of the dorsal sensor array while the underside is a single piece of plastic.

This is a really solidly constructed craft and there is a bit of weight behind it too because of that huge metal topside. The joins between metal and plastic are pretty smooth and the hull detail seems to be aligned pretty perfectly. It's not the most glamourous of ships by a long shot but Eaglemoss have managed to construct something decent from a very average model and one I'm oddly impressed with. 

The outer layers here make this ship something interesting because of the undulation and the surface intricacies both top and bottom. The machining for this one is fantastic and there's no mould bleed or fade from one raised element into the main hull of the ship. It feels like there's substance to this one and imagine if there had been a little more of the effort displayed here on the rather super-bland Federation Holoship then that release might have been a completely different story.

On the underside as well the model retains this superb attention to detail continuing the layered hull effect and multiple windows to give strength to the depth of the design. The differentiation in surface height provides a certain realistic impression to the cumbersome freighter. Perhaps my only negative observation is that the nose 'fan' does appear slightly washed over with its finishing detail more smoothly edged than the rest of the ship.  

Actually the underside (in plastic) is far more detailed than the top with a few outward protrusions at the mid-point and also to the back. At the rear where the two different materials meet there's no evident difference in the quality around the engines nor as your eye follows the hull around the horizontal join. It is a very clean, well finished ship with almost no variant quality. Ok, there are a few details missing such as on the support struts to the sensor array and in some of the fin-work just behind the polaron beam weapon yet it still is a great model.

To the all important stand fit and the wide-angle clip slides easily over the rear of the freighter. No movement, easy grip and a stable model all round. Just keep in mind that it is heavier than some others so I'll be keeping an eye on how the stand copes in the next few months.

The issue 102 magazine recounts the freighter's appearances and uses within Deep Space Nine's corner of the Alpha Quadrant and then turns itself onto the history of it just this ship but the model itself. Fascinatingly this is one of the franchise's most reused models appearing as eight craft from the third season of The Next Generation right though to the third year of Enterprise. In fact we will be seeing another of its incarnations - the Smugglers' Ship from Unification - in an upcoming issue. 

Nice plan views from all angles included with this one which means you can pick out all the errors at close range. Note for one that there are some panels in a lighter brown colour and that the greys have a hint of blue to them. The views do highlight some of the slighter details around the edge of the hull and the dorsal sensor array. I mean there is a lot fitted in already but there are one or two glaring omissions which have to be down to overloading the model.

This magazine also includes six pages on the creation of Deep Space Nine. It's not providing much, if any, new info because there have been a ton of books and previous works on the subject but as an overview this is more than fitting. In fact most of the section deals with the inclusion of Ro before being morphed into Major Kira once Michelle Forbes ruled herself out of the production. 

Closing out the mag are the On Screen appearances in Ensign Ro from The Next Generation and A Man Alone from the early part of Deep Space Nine's first season. Spot the pic of the Xhosa and try not to start thinking what issue number that's going to be...

OK, to the next two issues and we'll be discussing the Klingon D5 from Enterprise and the Vidiian Warship from the first couple of seasons of Voyager.

Pleased with issue 100? Impressed by the Bajoran Freighter?

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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Discovery Trailer Two

How there can still be haters after the second Discovery trailer is beyond me. At the very least you have to agree that the show is going to have the most spectacular look of any of the Star Trek incarnations.

Unveiled at San Diego Comic Con, fans were treated to the second series trailer for the show which opened up a whole lot of new stuff from the first seconds.

We open up in the Netflix version to a glorious shot of the USS Shenzhou NCC-1227 showing off its purple navigational deflector and the unusual point that it has the registry on both left and right sides of the saucer. Very unusual but the shape of the ship is very much in keeping with established Starfleet design especially the Akira and Miranda Classes.

All life is born from chaos...the world doesn't always adhere to logic - Burnham

We open into further shots of Georgiou and Burnham on their desert walk as well as a visual of the alien that we've also seen in concept art at San Diego's Discovery gallery. 

There's more of Burnham flying through an asteroid field in her Starfleet spacesuit (more later on this) including a nice HUD that shows the Shenzhou before we get our first new and closer look at the Klingons. There also appears to be a shot of some sort of ambush or brawl slotted in here but it's out of focus and in the distance so I can't be sure if it's Klingons or not.

Sometimes down is up...and sometimes when you are lost you're found. - Burnham

Now the next piece has Burnham getting up from the floor from behind what is left of a forcefield and looking around her it seems that the ship (or starbase?) has taken severe damage. I'd link this shot into some of the later scenes where we do see the character incarcerated and actually hauled away at one point by Starfleet officers. If I was a betting man I'd say that this is the turning point for the character in the pilot. At some point I think something is going to go wrong in regards to contact with the Klingons, Burnham will be at the centre of it resulting in her moving to the Discovery under Captain Lorca rather than gaining her own command as we were informed in the first trailer.

Again paralleling the gallery that's been appearing right across the internet this weekend, we have a first, clear look at some of the monolithic Klingon ships. There is a much more Gothic look to these ships than every before. There's a danger to them, a spiky, sharpened threat that is obvious just from the look and is echoed down into the very costume design of the Klingon race themselves.

The Klingon Empire has been in disarray for generations. - Sarek

In keeping with Star Trek tradition we see Chris Obi leading a Klingon death howl as the sarcophagus is raised to the ceiling and he ensures that its occupant is deceased. Now could this be his predecessor leading to T'Kumva taking over the house and leading the Klingons to war? Could this death be caused by the Shenzhou and therefore lead to the ensuing conflict that I think we all know is coming (and I'm SO convinced now we're gonna get Axanar and Garth at some point in the next couple of seasons).

We've encountered them. - Burnham

There's more of Burnham communicating with a holographic Sarek. Is she relating events directly to him? Is he somehow manipulating or helping to mould events? Now this is one piece of tech that is definitely out of place in the timeline since this type of comm device only turned up a couple of times in Deep Space Nine and was ditched because it restricted the story. Here at least the technology looks in its infancy with the grainy image of the Vulcan ambassador. Interestingly the internet was flooded with the suggestion that Burnham was actually Amanda's (Sarek's wife's) daughter initially but now it's clearer that she's adopted. In fact there's a shot later in the trailer where Sarek (not holographic) comes close to a bloodied child whom I would say is a young Burnham. Thus the pilot - or at least some time in the first season will overview their relationship.

We have been waiting for someone worthy of our attention - T'Kumva

Follow that up with some more shots of the Shenzhou coming face to face with the Klingon "mothership" but then faced with an armada of hostiles which might be the starting point of the kicking it appears to get earlier in snap shots. There's more of Burnham - reaction shots plus one intriguing one of her standing in front of some sort of plant-life. Then it all goes fiery as the Klingons launch an attack. Now the ship that appears to go boom doesn't look like either the Shenzhou or the Discovery so it might be the USS Europa which we saw being torn to bits right in the first few seconds of this trailer. To be fair the trailer characterises the Klingons as a brutal warlike group who just seem out for a good fight and are something like the Klingons of old with their rituals. While T'Kumva makes an appearance, Mary Chieffo's L'Rell is notably absent...grrrr.

We do get to see the Shenzhou taking damage during a firefight and what impresses me is that every single frame that we get to see a starship or something borne out in space it looks cinematic in scale. Also there was a suggestion that we might be seeing the death of Georgiou during this sequence but I just think it's the usual Star Trek bridge pyrotechnics. Now take a look to this shot (right) and you'll spot a ton of escapepods leaving the Shenzhou. Now, this really does indicate that this ship will not last the whole of the pilot episode or perhaps last only a couple of stories to lead into Burnham's tenure on the Discovery. Whatever happens I think we can firmly say that the Shenzhou is not going to survive.

From all the props we've been teased with recently we know that the detail on set is spectacular but now we can really see how much has gone into the CG. I mean it's a million miles from the Discovery tease of 2016.

Continuing on the battle rages with injured personnel being moved around the ship accompanied by our first onscreen shot of the medical "white" uniform plus lots of explosions seeming to be aboard the Shenzhou and maybe from a Klingon attack.

Change is the essential process of all existence, Commander Burnham. You must challenge your preconceptions for they most certainly will challenge you. - Sarek

Burnham then takes control ("Go!") as we are greeted with a group of officers in the black armour (including Burnham) and then a shuttle or shuttlepod leaving through a baydoor forcefield - nice touch and well in keeping with the later series!

Then we get more ship combat and desert walking before...

What the hell is going on on this ship? - Burnham

Burnham watches some floating molecules which might indicate a new weapon or virus, maybe even that gravity on the ship has gone off. There are quick splices to members of the crew including Lieutenant Commander Saru who we now know is from a prey species called the Kelpien. The reason they can sense death is because they are hunted by another species on their homeworld hence they need to be more than aware what is around them!

Run! - Burnham

The sense of danger increases with Burnham in danger in a darkened ship corridor possibly after her escape from the brigand attempting to get off the crippled Shenzhou. Blink at this point and you might miss the fleeting glimpse of the Europa again as it shoots by but don't worry because then we get our first trailer look at the (back end of) Discovery herself. She's a lot flatter than ever seen before and immediately the title craft jumps to warp.

We are creating a new way to fly - Lorca

- says Captain Gabriel Lorca as the starship jumps to warp. Intercut with a fiery planet or weapon or something before Burnham takes to jumping around in space through a web or forcefields which links back to the early moments of the trailer and possibly into the later parts of her imprisoned. He's very studious and there's a level of thespianism to his delivery. I see Lorca as a strong, single-minded captain more in the image of Picard than a Kirk. Certainly more of a man to tow the line rather than act as a maverick and play havoc with the Prime Directive. I can see how the more hot-headed and active Burnham will be a counter to the captain of the Discovery right away but from the trailer I believe he will be peeling away her layers and helping explore her personality and maybe bringing more of the humanity out of the shell that has been affected by being raised by Vulcans.

Better hurry..we're getting very close to (insert vocal explosion noise!) - Mudd

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the trailer is the appearance of Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd. Now I've been critical of the inclusion of this character since the day it was announced but y'know what? I'm actually really impressed with this performance. It's cynical, sarcastic and dark. I think I'm going to like my Mudd this way rather than comic relief. Still no sign of Lieutenant Stamets here which is disappointing seeing as Anthony Rapp is all over everywhere helping promote the show.

You're mad - Burnham

I'm Mudd - Mudd

And that says it all. This could be the standout character and his sparring with Burnham looks like it could be a high point for the show. I never thought that Harry Mudd appearing in Star Trek again would actually make me happy - to the point where I'm actually excited to see how he's developed.

You chose to do the right thing...even at great cost to helped start a war; don't you want to help me end it. - Lorca

Do Burnham's actions lead to the destruction of both the Europa and the Shenzhou? Will some of the first season actually be flashback or is Michelle Yeoh destined to only be in the pilot episode? I think the answer to that is yes but her actions there might well have repercussions across the first season.

We close out the trailer with those scenes of Burnham being carted off to the brig which she will escape due to critical ship damage before Lorca confronts her to help him turn the situation around. More shot of a Klingon ship, Burnham crawling through a Jefferies tube(?), the Shenzhou bridge captained by Georgiou, the Europa (?) exploding again - is this ship sacrificing itself to save the Shenzhou perhaps? Then we get to see escape pods leaving the Shenzhou which solidifies my thinking this is a pilot-only starship. Is Burnham the responsible party for the loss of hundreds of lives at the hands of the Klingons?

Final shot - Burnham, unconscious spinning into an asteroid field in her broken spacesuit which could be around the same time she encounters the Klingon "torchbearer" as we have come to know him.

It's a trailer that offers just about everything up. Amazing CG, stunning detail, action, adventure - but there is one thing that does appear to be lacking and that's the optimistic look of the future. What we have seen has certainly impressed. It looks and sounds incredible especially when coupled with the pics coming out of San Diego but this looks to be an exceptionally bleak Star Trek with even the most colourful of characters (Mudd) being somewhat sinister. 

These two and half minutes of new footage do answer the question over Burnham's transfer (maybe) as well as indicating some form of contact situation that goes wrong between the Federation and the Klingons leading to war and probably a war that will encompass the first season.

Again this trailer shows how far Star Trek has had to move in the last decade and a bit. I think they have the visual feel nailed and the nods to the past in the starship design, the uniforms, the spacesuits, the weapons - are all excellent and true to the universe in which they are set. The challenge will be if there is enough substance under the gloss to make this a sustainable show. I don't see it being ditched after a year because of the mind-blowing investment that has been put into the show in front and behind the camera. So what if the Klingons look different, it's not like there was consistency back in the '60's and '70's either! In fact they had to retcon in the reason why during Enterprise

Still there are "fans" out there heaping disdain onto a show that hasn't even aired. I repeat once more - give it a chance to prove itself. This will be different and it has to be for the time we are in. It will have more in common with the Kelvin timeline purely because of how TV and film making has advanced since These Are the Voyages in 2005. A lot can happen in 12 years and just think about how scripting and making TV has been affected by shows such as Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. It's a different landscape to the one which saw Sisko fight the Dominion or Picard live a life as Kamin of Kataan. 

No Star Trek has been the same as the previous one and we shouldn't expect this one to either. Grow up, give it a chance or move on. This is a new era for Star Trek, a new chance to meet a new audience who may never have experienced the original show and the franchise is in an era of media that is a million times more competitive than it was even in 2000. Star Trek has had to change and come up to date and while the trailer looks stunning in every shot it doesn't tell us much about the characters. It is what it is; a tease.

What impressed you most about the new Discovery trailer?

All images taken from Netflix trailer direct or via FilmSelect

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Friday, 21 July 2017

Facing It: Christopher L Bennett Returns to Classic Territory

With his latest work in the Star Trek literary universe, Christopher L Bennett has stepped out of prequel territory into the Kirk era.

Acting as something of a sequel to the first season episode The Corbomite Manoeuvre, The Face of the Unknown returns the USS Enterprise to the First Federation and to David Bailey who is still acting as ambassador to the secretive assembly.

Y'see it appears that the now legendary Balok puppet we all love so much is actually based on a supposedly extinct race called the Dassik who have, you'll be quite unsurprised to hear, returned from the dead to exact some form of revenge on the First Federation which was involved in assisting their neutering many moons ago.

The plot is actually ok here with the reasoning behind the downfall of the Dassik making a fair bit of sense as does why they are utilised as puppets for first contact however...

As regular readers will be aware I've skipped duty reviewing Christopher L Bennett's novels for a good four years now ever since I had a bad experience with one of his Enterprise; Birth of the Federation series. I found that long winded, dull and hard to keep focused on for 340 pages. After so long of personal boycott on Bennett's work I thought I would dig into this one because it's been so long and also because it's The Original Series rather than Enterprise. After all, it might just be that I don't like reading prequel series stories rather than the author as the only novels I've tackled of his are Archer and co.

I can now conclude that it's not that. I think I just don't like Bennett's style. That's not to say he isn't a decent writer nor are his books convoluted or terribly characterised in fact I'd go as far to say that his understanding of the NCC-1701 crew is superior to his precision with the NX-01 staff. The big issue I have is that Bennett will use a couple of thousand words when eight will do and then contrary to that will use a few to skip plot moments or technicalities such as escaping cells for instance. 

There are a number of sequences in the book where there's a lot of talking and nothing really happens. In the build up to the conclusion there's a plot twist involving Balok that seems odd it's not noticed by the crew sooner and then doesn't really get an acceptable pay off. Indeed the story wouldn't have suffered with its omission. There's an action sequence involving Sulu that doesn't really go anywhere either and The Face of the Unknown just comes across as somewhat bloated with great sequences that don't work or are filler. 

To some degree there is a lot going on here with the Enterprise under repairs at the hands of Scotty, Spock off doing his thing, Kirk captured, the Dassik, the mutiple races and personnel of the First Federation... the list goes on. It feels like a struggle at times to read with even Bailey sapped of that boyish charm and naivety that made him an interesting character to follow in 1966. 

While family, work and life in general meant that this was picked up and put down rather frequently it might have meant that some of the story lost its impact and power. I would suggest that to really get to the heart of this book you need to be reading it in significant chunks to keep track of the various threads but for me this one just lacked any conviction and left me pretty cold after reading The Long Mirage and even the uneven Headlong Flight. 

With the recent 50th anniversary I applaud Bennett's choice of source material for The Face of the Unknown and he does a decent job of answering some of the questions fans might have had since that classic episode aired however someone at the publisher needs to help him shave down the word count and cut to the chase. I managed to push on through to the end but found that was more a relief to have reached the final page than a success with some level of readership fulfillment. I think the next time there's a Christopher L Bennett novel dropping through the letterbox I'll be calling on Tiff to review.

Have you read The Face of the Unknown? Fitting sequel or mediocre followup to The Corbomite Manoeuver?

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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Worlds in Motion Picture: The Graphic Novel Collection Issues 12 - 15

After our mass review last time of the four issues I'd managed to get all in one go it's the same again this month.

Starting out we have The Edge of the Galaxy, an original story set after the events of the 2009 Kelvin timeline movie. Now here's the twist, these are actually reworkings/reboots/rewritings of some of The Original Series' first season stories, specifically Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Galileo Seven and Operation: Annihilate!

I can hear the groans now but you're actually wrong to judge that early since not everything is as crystal clear as you might immediately expect. Rather than just being a case of inking in Chris Pine where Shatner once stepped, the writers of these graphic tales have gone back to the originals and retold the tales with a Kelvin spin. Not everything is cut and dry - as with the movie, the characters are all there but there are not necessarily the same outcomes that we experienced in The Original Series. For starters, Doctor Dehner isn't even aboard the Enterprise leaving Gary Mitchell alone as the sole protagonist here. His likeness is based on Gary Lockwood who played the character in the second pilot but as for similarities that's as far as it goes. 

Have to admit I raised a smile when they commented on the "other" Delta Vega since one was used as Spock's prison in the 2009 film. Indeed you'll spot lots of parallels to the original as you read through the story but it's a compelling narrative and waiting for the changes makes it even more exciting. The same goes for The Galileo Seven which has a huge spin in it towards the end due to the relationship between Spock and Uhura. Pushing through to Operation: Annihilate! and the alterations to the timeline thanks to the Narada are even more evident from the appearance of a very much alive Sam Kirk.

These stories have their characterisation of the Kelvin Timeline Enterprise crew down to a tee. Kirk is particularly bang on with a slight swagger and cockiness replicated right on the page. So too is McCoy amazingly well represented by the graphic novel. Getting the likeness is one thing but managing to instill the essence of the role is key and in The Edge of the Galaxy we have that in spades. I love the way in which the writers have chosen to twist these classic stories in new ways for the Kelvin generation and there's more of that coming in Vulcan Vengeance so bear with...

Let's turn to the Marvel Comics, Volume One. Created in the late 1970's, this series takes place in the era of The Motion Picture so expect a lot of beige. The first stories in here are the graphic novel version of the first film. 

It's a close reproduction of the story but luckily doesn't take half as long to read as to watch. The other neat thing is that there are a few scenes missing from the movie which appear in here including the sequence of Kirk going after Spock within V'Ger. 

The artwork here is much rougher and the likenesses to the actors from The Original Series are further out than you may want but the core of The Motion Picture story definitely asserts itself and there's no mistaking this as Star Trek. The colouring too is a little sloppy in places throughout the stories included in this volume but, y'know, different times, so you can't really make too much of a comment but coming after the crisp lines and vibrancy of The Edge of the Galaxy it's quite a culture shock.

That of course is the brilliance of the Graphic Novel Collection in that we get all these different periods of Star Trek comic history rubbing shoulders with each other in a matter of pages (yes, and I will happily include Gold Key in that bracket). 

What is appreciated with The Motion Picture story here is that the longer, visual effects pieces that dominated the big screen return of the franchise are slimmed to a few frames and don't detract from the pace of the narrative. We brush through the unveiling of the Enterprise in a page, we're inside V'Ger in about four; it makes a huge difference.

Once you're through this, we have Marvel's interpretation of "what could have been" to some extent in regards to Phase II. That series never reached the air but in these pages we get a ride into that never-explored territory. Now knowing what the first series scripts might have looked like thanks to the brilliant Phase II: The Lost Series book, these are somewhat far fetched and almost stepping into the equally crazy realms of the fabled Gold Key archive.

The Haunting of Thallus story for instance would fit right in although this tale does manage to pull in a ton of Klingons and at least try and weave in some form of established canon. However, it's still far outside the remit of what I would expect from Star Trek. There might be some exploration in here but the leaning towards the fantastical does seem a bit of a sell out and I honestly don't think it would be a concept that would have even made it to a writers room. These stories do ensue a sense of indulgence and while visually they are in line with the vision of The Motion Picture and do portray the cast with a degree of accuracy, there doesn't appear to be too much substance to the narratives.

We also have The Enterprise Murder Case and Tomorrow Or Yesterday - two single part stories that nicely fill out the volume but are fairly instantly forgettable. Nice inclusion of some of Kirk's backstory with the appearance of the chunky USS Republic within these pages but aside from that they are typical comic fayre.

What also works for the collection is the inclusion of artwork for The Motion Picture film poster plus additional cover art for the editions of the Marvel Comics included in this volume. I'm a bit embarrassed I've not mentioned this with other volumes as they are some of the great hidden gems that are getting a nice bit of additional exposure - I'd take a closer look in the specials too because they seem to have taken this section a whole step further particularly with The Planet of the Apes crossover.

Issue 14 pulls back some respect for the graphic novel medium in regards to Star Trek with another sojourn into the Kelvin Timeline. Another three stories fill out the majority of the edition with new twists on the Romulans in Vulcan's Vengeance, a reworking of Return of the Archons and a new Tribbles story.

Vulcan's Vengeance is a fantastic read and combination of stories and I ripped through these in a very short period of time. I'm fast becoming a huge advocate of the IDW material especially their work with the new Kelvin Timeline which has removed some of the restrictions of 700+ episode continuity and offered a blank canvas on a plate. 

It makes sense that episodes the crew of the Prime Timeline faced would surface here but the writers have l, as with The Edge of the Galaxy tales, managed to keep them fresh and exciting from start to finish. The Balance of Terror remake/total makeover takes the destruction of Vulcan into account and reaffirms the new mentality of the quadrant around the refugees and their offshoot cousins. Vulcan's Vengeance is a dark, grim story that delivers the unexpected from very early on and keeps you guessing to the end.

The Return of the Archons goes along the lines of the three stories from The Edge of the Galaxy and is a strict remapping of the episode from The Original Series.  Now I didn't think it possible but this is an improvement on the classic story. After all, The Return of the Archons isn't one of the strongest episodes and some of the alterations make it much more feasible and align with the Kelvin Timeline more reasonably. I'm rapidly becoming a big fan of Mike Johnson's writing as everything I've seen from his pen so far has been excellent. In fact the Kelvin installments have been the stronger and more driven stories up to this point (maybe with the exception of Early Voyages). The attention to detail, JJ-canon and arcing plotlines is fantastic and fills in more than the films ever will. His portrayal of the crew is very endearing, retaining key elements of the originals personalities while still managing to encompass the updating from Pine et al.

What you come to appreciate with this and with the final story of the three is that there are sprinklings of ideas and threads that will be picked up (or were retconned in here) to bridge the gap from the 2009 movie through to Into Darkness. I won't blab them out here but you'll spot a few of them straight away and I'm predicting that on two or three more revisits I'll spot a few more nods to the first of the two reboot films. 

The Truth About Tribbles story is, frankly, excellent. 

A completely new tale about the rapidly multiplying furballs that take the reader to their homeworld, sort of explains why they have to reproduce so quickly and adds in a few severely irritated Klingons to max out the story.  It actually adds some depth to their background that we've never been privvy to before. There is the expected element of humour in here that could only come from a Tribbles story but this is actually quite dark for something that we know to be one of Star Trek's lighter moments. It also manages to handle two strands of story at the same time under the Tribble umbrella if you will while also setting up a certain controversial blip from Into Darkness.

The parallels back to The Trouble with Tribbles and Trials and Tribble-ations are nicely done and we can see here the Klingon plan to eradicate the "menace" as it was. Wonderful read, fantastically illustrated right the way through. For reference the three Gold Key archive stories included with 12, 13 and 14 respectively are The Brain Shockers, The Flight of the Bucanneer - with the crew bizarrely undercover as space pirates replete with cutlasses, stripey jumpers and eyepatches and lastly The Dark Traveller where in the Enterprise encounters a cross between Q and a space wizard. All a bit weird but nothing I haven't come to expect from these pulp comic stories. Whatever next...

Finally in Volume 15 we come back to the Star Trek universe as it was seen in the late 70's and early 80's after the arrival of The Motion Picture with The Newspaper Strips Volume One.

Now as with the abysmally bound The Classic UK Comics, Part One, this doesn't have the additional Gold Key story as it's rammed full of short stories based around that period of Star Trek history. We have new aliens, Klingons, the odd appearance from a classic Constitution Class starship, starbases and above all, some very impressive artwork that captures the pastels of the first movie absolutely perfectly. It's a lot less hurried and scrawled than the Marvel Comics from Volume 13 with better definition of the physical features of the crew plus some better renderings of the Klingon and Federation ships. To some degree the writing is more Star Trek centric being much less Flash Gordon/50's sci-fi off the wall and more grounded tales that have a more technical aspect to them and seem to tread more along the lines of canon. Hell, they even make reference to the Perscan belt units at one point which almost made me have an aneurysm.

Honestly these are a great read and easier to dip in and out of since half the stories aren't lost down the spine. The larger frames and cut back dialogue does work better than the squashed in text of those Marvel Comic tales and overall this is a much cleaner interpretation of Star Trek on the page than those in Volume 13. The tragedy is that these newspaper strips have been "lost" for a while since they weren't mass distributed and really need to be appreciated.

With it being a longer volume these shorter stories with their cliffhanger points every couple of pages make it very easy to digest. Frankly I just loved these with their clear affection for the core material and their presentation here is wonderfully done. These four issues offer a good range of storytelling from across the graphic eras of Star Trek. Great selection and variety.

Next month we have The Next Generation's Ghosts and another from the Kelvin Timeline with Mirrored.

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