Star Trek: Manifest Destiny #1StarTrek_ManifestDestiny_01-pr-page-001
Publisher: Ted Adams
Writer: Mike Johnson, Ryan Parrott
Artist: Angel Hernandez
Colourist: Esther Sanz
Letterer: Andworld Design
Covers By: Angel Hernandez, Tony Shasteen (Subscription Cover) Rachael Stott (RI Cover)
Editor: Sarah Gaydos

Release Date: 20/04/16

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers!

A Klingon sect, seemingly acting against the interests of their superiors on Kronos are seen conquering a defenceless race’s world – slaughtering millions and keeping millions more alive for nefarious purposes. A lone Klingon speaks up to his commander, a Klingon named Sho’tokh, telling him it is not honourable, not the Klingon way to attack children. Sho’tokh tells him it is his way and promptly dispatches his comrade gruesomely.

A month later the crew of the USS Enterprise pick up a localized transmission which Uhura believes to be a Federation binary distress beacon.

After being warned by Spock that there should be no Federation vessels in that area of space the Enterprise moves to intercept with Kirk sending Sulu down to investigate the beacon, accompanied by Uhura, McCoy, and security officers Zahra and Slattery.

On the planet’s surface the away team discover the distress signal in a series on underground tunnels – it is being sent from a piece of alien tech but modified to send a Starfleet distress signal.

After failing to contact the ship they are promptly attacked by Klingon’s with Sulu being seriously hurt and Slattery being killed.

Fleeing the Klingons and getting lost in the underground caves of the alien world, McCoy gets separated from the others and finds himself alone and attacked by Klingon warriors. After a tense skirmish McCoy overcomes the aggressors and manages to use his skills as a doctor to take one of the captive. It is then that he is confronted by even more attackers.

Meanwhile, just as the away team found the modified beacon, the Enterprise are thwarted in their attempts to rescue the away team by being attacked by a cloaked Klingon ship, the likes of which Chekov has never seen before. They are hailed by the Klingon ship they are told by its commander Sho’tokh that they are going to take the Enterprise. After taking a battering by the ship and losing engines in the process, Spock informs Kirk that the Klingons have changed tactics and are seen hurtling in space in space suits towards the Enterprise, led by Sho’tokh himself…

The Story
The story of this new bi-monthly miniseries opens with the Klingon’s extending the Empires reach by forcefully occupying the home world of a less technologically advanced race. These are not the Klingons you remember! After countless stories on television featuring everyone’s favourite Klingon, Worf, maybe the sheer ferocity of this mighty race was lost somewhat. Johnson and Parrott are doing wonders for them as they show just how ruthless they can be if led the wrong way.

The central villain, Sho’tokh, has the potential to be a fantastic one with a focus so intense and a will so aggressive I genuinely think the Enterprise crew may have met their match – I’m actually worried for them! To evoke feeling like that in a licensed property like Star Trek, the writing team Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott deserve many plaudits for the creation of a villain so ruthless, the likes of which we’ve not seen in a Star Trek comic in a long time.

After that relentless opening were then shown the Enterprise’s Chief Medical Officer Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy attempting (with Scotty’s help) to save the life of a pregnant alien crewmember and her distressed infant. As a recent new father myself, this sequence was particularly effective and shows the direct comparison between Sho’tokh’s murderous Klingon sect and the Enterprise crew who will do their best to preserve all life, even if (as they are in this case) a tad ungrateful!

The choice to focus on McCoy is one I can really get behind and continues the recent Star Trek: Starfleet Academy miniseries trend of using prominent characters who are not Kirk and Spock. Bones really gets a chance to shine here not only as a doctor but also an action hero! We see him alone and outnumbered using his medical expertise in an offensive way in order to survive. It’s a great story and it’s written with such verve it’s easy to hear the southern drawl Karl Urban uses when playing Bones in your head while reading!

The last page cliff-hanger was a great one and I really can’t wait for the inevitable clash on the Enterprise next issue. I love the fact that the series is bi-monthly as it means we won’t have to wait a month to find out what happens next and it will hopefully be easier for the creative team to ensure the pace is as relentless as the story!

It should also be noted that this issue (and the other issues in the miniseries) is also being released in a Klingon text version, just another way IDW are treating fans in the anniversary year.

The Art
The art for the series is by Mike Johnson’s Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War collaborator Angel Hernandez and his pencils are just as strong as they are in that series.

His likenesses on the whole are absolutely fantastic (maybe not so much Scotty?) and the angles he draws the characters and scenes all add to the illusion that we are ‘watching’ a true action film in the vein of the last two movies. We even get the lens flares!

In the sequence where the Klingon’s are attacking the inhabitants of the peaceful world it was so vividly drawn and there was even a Klingon beheading one of the aliens in a gruesome manner! It was only in the background of the image but it really did make the point that these Klingon’s are not to be messed with!

The colouring by Esther Sanz complements Hernandez’s work perfectly with the ships interiors coloured exactly as you’d expect and I loved the contrast in the colouring of the Bridge when the ship was at ‘Red Alert’ compared to the beginning of the story.

The Covers
This opening issue ships with three covers.

The standard cover by interior artist Angel Hernandez, a subscription variant by Tony Shasteen and a Retailer Incentive cover by Rachael Stott.

The standard cover depicts the central villain Sho’tokh close up with a menacing expression on his face while we see the very concerned faces of Kirk and Spock reflected in his Bat’leth. It’s a great cover that conveys really well just how crucial this villain is to the story and just how formidable he is!

The subscription cover by currant Star Trek Ongoing artist Tony Shasteen is (typically for him) utterly stunning. It’s a homage to the original movie poster to Star Trek: The motion Picture but with the rebooted cast (Pine, Quinto) in place of the original cast. It really is stunning and beautifully coloured, not only is it a fitting tribute to Bob Peak’s original poster but also to the history of Star Trek itself, this year celebrating its 50th year.

The retailer incentive offering comes from the brilliant Rachael Stott. The interior artist behind the recent Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive crossover gives us a cover dedicated to Bones himself. It’s a great image showing a battle weary, McCoy, uniform ripped and holding a Klingon Bat’leth with piles of bodies behind him. It’s a startling cover that depicts the story inside perfectly. If you saw this cover in a comic store you’d definitely have to buy it to find out what happens! As a big fan of Stott’s work I really liked this cover and I think Karl Urban would too!

When I heard that in Manifest Destiny would be the return of the Klingons to Star Trek comics I was a little hesitant. Could they be a genuine threat again? I needn’t have worried. Simply put, Star Trek: Manifest Destiny #1 really feels like the opening act of a major summer blockbuster.

I for one can’t wait to see where the story goes from here. I’m looking forward to seeing the match of wills between Kirk and Sho’tokh and I have faith that Johnson, Parrott and Hernandez can keep up the intense pace of this opening chapter.