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.


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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