SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
Have you been reading (or – I should say, re-reading) Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever from IDW? If-not, why? Did you you know, that Issue 2 went to second-printing before it hit the stands; also – Issue 1 is getting a second print, as well. Scott and David Tipton’s story is everything we’ve been waiting for, for damn-near 50 years, and I have read it a dozen times, or – more, over the past month. JK Woodward’s art is a beautiful thing, giving this ‘classic’ a cinematic-feel that is sure to make any Star Trek diehard say, “Wow!” Honestly, I just can’t find anything wrong with it. The debut just had me slack-jawed. And, man…those covers are out-of-this-world!
Plus, Issue 1 dealt with some unsavory aspects, the ‘dark’ side of Star Trek, if you will, that are rarely covered in the episodes and movies; examples: drug use, addiction and dependence, extortion of a fellow-crewman, mental stress and instability amongst the crew. All of these were in the opening pages, as the slimy, hell – evil, Beckwith peddles his illegal drugs to Lebeque, in exchange for his silence and special favors. Beckwith is the very-opposite of the upstanding Starfleet officer that we’re so-accustomed to seeing. The same is to be said of Lebeque; a man who is weak, a slave to a mind-altering drug, and – to the man using him in his continued addiction. Indeed, when Lebeque’s actions threaten the safety of the ship, he confronts Beckwith and vows to expose him; Beckwith resorts to murdering Lebeque, in order to keep Lebeque quiet about his illicit behavior.
And, so – the opening of Harlan Ellison’s award-winning teleplay begins. Everything we knew from the TV episode is, now – debunked, and we’re witnesses to a spectacular ‘new’ vision of City. It’s a desperate Beckwith (not, an incompetantly drug-induced, Cordrazine-crazed Bones) who escapes to the planet. It’s Kirk, Spock and a stoic Yeoman Janice Rand (not a frightened Uhura and Scotty) who lead the landing-party. We find a beautiful city (not a tableau of ancient ruins reminiscent of ancient Rome) and a group of six wizened, if-not, weary sentries (not a thunderous-sounding, godlike talking arch) guarding the time vortex. It’s Beckwith who hurls himself into the past, thus – leaving our band to wonder about the results and consequences of his purely-selfish act of self-preservation.
Issue 2 opens at that same moment. The captain and crew are dazed, but unharmed (physically) from Beckwith’s violent attack, but the damage to time has been done. They soon find that nothing is, as it was. The distraught sentries are called away to assess the traumas time has sustained and Kirk orders the team back to the Enterprise; but it’s now the Condor, run by a band of renegade pirates (1) who try to take Kirk and Spock and the landing-party captive. A deadly fight ensues, (2) but our heroes take back the transporter room and plan their next move: changing the past, to right this future.
Leaving Rand to hold the transporter room, indefinately, if need be, Kirk and Spock return to the planet to meet the sentries. They plead their case and go back to Earth’s past, with only a vague clue from the time guards as to what focal-point they should be looking for. They arrive in what appears to be the 1940’s, amongst a growing mob of down-and-out, unemployed, hungry men, motivated by a racist antagonist who is polluting the air with his bitter vehemence of the foreigners running the country. (3) The riled-up mob soon turns against Kirk and Spock, (4) who fight them off and escape the scene; leaving us with the two iconic officers seeking shelter in a basement…
Folks, I knew going-in, months-ago, that this was going to be an epic journey, and, thus-far, I haven’t been disappointed. I’m familiar with Scott and David Tipton’s stories, having read many of them; ASSIMILATION2 (the Star Trek: TNG/Doctor Who crossover), still-ranks up there, as one of the best comics I’ve ever read. But, this is something truly special, as you can see the dedication these guys have put into this story; holding-true to Harlan Ellison’s teleplay in every way possible; indeed – Harlan has been right there at their side. It’s fast-paced, right-on-cue with our characters and it doesn’t bog you down with a lot of Treknobabble; you’re immediately immersed in the time-period(s), while – allowing you to see the differences between the two stories, without being in-your-face about them. That’s what makes it flow, to me. I cannot wait to see how this is going to play-out; (I’ve downloaded the original teleplay, but I refuse to read it, until this series finishes). I know I’ve been told, that this is Harlan’s vision, but I don’t want this series ‘tainted’ in any way…ya know.
As for JK Woodwards’s art, well…it’s amazing! In Issue 1, my favorite panel was that of Lebeque’s drug-addled state on the bridge; in this issue, it’s Kirk and Spock running through the rainbow-effect of the time vortex, as they head back to locate Beckwith, (and – reset the clock, so-to-speak). JK does a spectacular job of bringing this tale to life, and his paintings are phenomenal! He astounds me with the details he puts into his work: the braid of Rand’s hairstyle from the show, Spock’s ears, and his use of the tricorder, Kirk’s eye color and his facial expressions in each scene. In-addition, is the way he portrays the guardians, as it is consistant, throughout; also, the not-so-subtle changes to the transporter room, let’s you know we’re not in Kansas, anymore, and – finally, the panels depicting the city in Earth’s past, gives you that raw-feel of those depressed, seemingly-hopeless times; everything is dreary and bleak, gray and drab; the anger and hate from these men, is so-real.
I put some numbers in my comments above, and these represent some of the people that JK has used: 1) is Scott Tipton; (one of the writers, of course), 2) is Darrell Taylor as the big red alien with the horn growing out of his forehead, standing on the bridge and, again (in another panel) stabbing a redshirt. JK told me he made this alien race up for this series (to be used in later Star Trek books, as well) and they’re called the D’rell T’lor.. Go-figure! Darrell is a friend of mine, as-well-as, JK’s, and he runs the Taylor Network of Podcasts. 3) is Frank Acker (a Facebook friend of JK’s) playing the role of the soapbox racist and 4) is Troy Vesasis (a fan) who says “Get him!”; and – that’s Chris Ryall (this series’ brainchild, unrelenting champion and editor) right behind him. You’ll also-notice some other notable mentions, such as the theater and deli names that he used. JK says to look for more-stuff, like Harlan Ellison story title Easter eggs throughout #3 and 4, as well.
I have a couple of questions, though: Why is there no exterior-shot of the Condor? I mean, time has changed and the Enterprise doesn’t exist…right? Is the transporter operator a Vulcan, or – a Romulan? Also, is that Scott Tipton’s character, getting the Vulcan nerve pinch from Mister Spock?!
Well, that’s it for me. The only problem I have is, we have to wait another month for Issue 3! I can’t wait to see Issue 4, and for the intro of Edith Keeler into the storyline. As Harlan has stated in the ‘Edge Words’ comments (in the back of this issue): “I’m deliriously happy with the IDW manifestation,” and – so am I. This is #GreatStarTrek, folks! I’m giving this issue five stars; that goes for the series, as well. Be sure to watch VisionaryTrek.com for ALL the latest news, reviews and podcasts.
‘Til, next-time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone