Star Trek: Manifest Destiny #3 ST_ManifestDestiny_03-pr-page-001
Publisher: Ted Adams
Writer: Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott
Artist: Angel Hernandez
Colourist: Doug Garbark & Adam Guzowski
Letterer: Andworld Design
Covers By: Angel Hernandez, Tony Shasteen (Subscription Cover) Stephen Mooney (RI Cover)
Editor: Sarah Gaydos

Release Date: 18/05/16

Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers!

“We are the USS Enterprise, we don’t surrender”

“Previously in Star Trek: Manifest Destiny – Deep in unexplored space, the USS Enterprise detects a Starfleet beacon on a desolate planet. Sulu, Uhura and Doctor McCoy lead an away team to investigate only to be ambushed by Klingon soldiers. Meanwhile in orbit, a Klingon warship attacks the Federation flagship, and Iit ruthless captain now leads a fierce assault on the hull of the Enterprise…..  “

While down on the planet and taken captive by Sho’tokh’s lieutenant Divash, Uhura makes a deal to spare McCoy’s life: They will help Divash take control of the Klingon flagship if the Divash spare their lives. On arrival to the Klingon ship and watching Sulu undergo some unorthodox Klingon medical techniques, Divash explains to the rest of the away team that Sho’tokh does not speak for the rest of the Klingon Empire, he doesn’t even speak for the entirety of his crew, and that she’s going to need help to take his ship.

Once they get to the bridge, Divash tries and fails to convince Sho’tokh’s lieutenants to commit mutiny, until Uhura, phaser in hand, pleads with the Klingons that Sho’tokh’s way is not the Klingon way, and unless they follow Divash against him, they’ll be starting a needless war with the Federation will bring dishonour on them all.

Meanwhile, while defending the under siege Enterprise from invading Klingons, Kirk and Spock hear Sho’tokh over the ship wide channel giving an ultimatum to the Enterprise crew: surrender and live a life of peace under Klingon rule or resist and die. Kirk rejects this offer and after the inevitable battle is over we see the Klingons seemingly victorious but little does he know there was one crew member on the Enterprise who was not at engineering – Spock.

The Story
Issue #2 of Manifest Destiny teased us that there was to be more battles between Klingon and Starfleet forces after the Klingons boarding of the ship and issue #3 delivers on this promise – and then some!

The battles on the Enterprise are fast and intense and full credit must go to Johnson and Parrott for keeping the tension in these scenes. Though not a fan of ‘fight issues’ which normally seem to me to be ‘necessary filler’ the battles in issue #3 (and the whole of Manifest Destiny to be fair) have always kept the pace and tension to the max either by placing vulnerable characters in danger or showing us battles we just have never seen before, like the battle on the Enterprise hull last issue. The battle for the engine room was probably the bloodiest battle I’ve ever read in a Star Trek comic, the stakes are certainly high here.

Lieutenant Kai (Gaila’s brother and one of Kirks most formidable officers in battle) appears to meet his end here, considering his first appearance was in just over three years ago in the regular Star Trek Ongoing (also scripted by Johnson) I was definitely affected by this twist. It definitely does demonstrate the true power of Sho’tokh and his forces and highlighted just how vulnerable Kirk was after he fell. Though knowing how tough he is I’m half expecting Kai to pull through in the next issue even if it doesn’t look good!

The choice to have Kirk make the costly mistake in underestimating Sho’tokh and having his crew pay the price was a brave one and Johnson and Parrot deserve praise for the way these scenes were written. The battle at the end of the issue was heartbreakingly brutal and I could hardly breathe as I got to the final few pages.

We got new info about Sho’tokh, and learned that he stands alone from the Klingon Empire and declared war on the Federation by attacking the Enterprise with his own agenda. He is a true match for Kirk and is one of the best villains we’ve had in a Star Trek story – in any medium – in some time.

His decision to send his troops to the slaughter in engineering showcases not just how ruthless he is, but also that he’s a tactical genius. When you put those things together it makes a truly dangerous villain. The best we’ve seen in the JJ Verse so far.

We all know Sho’tokh is a great character but taking a knife to the captain’s chair? Now that’s evil!

As gripping as the scenes on the Enterprise are, the scenes on the planet with the away team are just as good with the spotlight being shared pretty equally between Bones and Uhura. I’m glad that Uhura has been brought into the story more as it’s great to see her communication skills being utilised to further the story. Uhura may have just turned the tide for Starfleet’s forces.

We also got more information of Sho’tokh’s mysterious lieutenant Divash. Herself full of inconsistences, she clearly doesn’t like humans but as Uhura rightly pointed out. Klingon’s are about honour and Divash know that what Sho’tokh is doing and how he is doing it is not the Klingon way. As with their previous miniseries Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, Johnson and Parrott are making sure the female characters are as strong as their male counterparts, which is just as it should be.

The final cliffhanger’s are great, with Kirk beaten, Kai seemingly dead and Spock surrounded and outnumbered by enemies I really can’t wait for the final issue of what has been a fantastic story so far.

The Art
As with the previous issues of the series, I continue to be impressed by Angel Hernandez’s art. He has a knack for likenesses which is important in a licenced property such as Star Trek but he has a real talent for battle scenes.

There have been many such scenes since the series began and every single one has always felt, distinct and vital to the story being told. I Can’t wait to see what he does with the important battles ahead in the series conclusion next issue.

Favourite Panel: I’m going to have to cheat this month, my favourite panel this issue was the whole sequence where there Starfleet and Klingon forces did battle for the engine room in the corridors of the Enterprise. It jumped from the battle, to Spock trying to defend crewman back to the battle where we see multiple crewman killed was stunningly paced and drawn with aplomb by Hernandez.

The Covers
This issue ships with three covers.

A standard cover by interior artist Angel Hernandez, a subscription cover by Tony Shasteen and a retailer incentive cover by Stephen Mooney

The standard cover by Angel Hernandez this month depicts central villain Shi’tokh sitting in the captain’s chair of what remains of the Enterprise’s bridge. He is smiling at the reader and holding a cup up as if saluting fallen comrades and enemies. It’s a haunting cover that shows just how dangerous Sho’tokh is and tells the reader just how different a villain he is compared to what we’ve seen before. It coloured brilliantly too by Jose Luis del Rio

This month’s tribute cover by Tony Shasteen is a homage to the third Original Series film: Star Trek: The Search for Spock. A real tribute to the original image by Bob Peak, this cover shows the bust of Quinto’s Spock in place of Nimoy’s with the rest of the bridge crew standing below while the Enterprise’s battles Sho’tokh’s Klingon ship above. I always thought the original was very ‘Tron-esque’ this offering is so faithfully recreated and stunningly coloured it makes me wish these were the posters to the rebooted films instead of the ones we got!

The RI cover this month is a good effort by Stephen Mooney which depicts Scotty during the Klingons attempt to commandeer the Enterprise. He is standing, phaser in hand behind one of the bulkheads waiting for the four Klingon’s seen stalking the corridor’s to get closer. It’s a tense cover that tells the story of the interior narrative really well, you can practically hear the red alert klaxon!

Issue #3 is another brilliant edition to what has been a very strong event comic. The action scenes are dripping with tension and rendered just as good. Probably the most brutal Star Trek comic I’ve ever read, It feels like a big summer blockbuster is being told in the style of the last two films and I have enjoyed it immensely, I especially like that we don’t have to wait a full month between instalments! Bravo Johnson, Parrott and Hernandez, what a way to celebrate Star Trek in its 50th year!