It’s Wednesday and you know what that means: COMICS!!! Today, IDW released Issue 3 of Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever, and as I mentioned to JK Woodward, I’m slack-jawed by it’s brilliance. I know this story has been languishing in the shadows for nearly 50 years, that the controversy behind it has it’s own iconic history; but I have to wonder if all of this has been fate, because I can’t imagine this story being told by anyone other than Scott and David Tipton, or – seeing it brought to light by anyone other than JK Woodward. It’s like I’m watching an episode every single issue. I can’t thank Chris Ryall enough for his persistence, or – Harlan Ellison, for finally agreeing to let his story be told in this fashion. Thanks goes to IDW, as well, for bringing this magnificent team together; their efforts have been phenomenal, the results, epic.
The story, thus-far: the Enterprise‘s chronometers have been running backwards and the crew has been investigating the cause at the rim of the galaxy. One of the crewmen, Beckwith, has been peddling illegal drugs, holding other crewmen in his debt by forcing them to perform favors and keeping his illicit actions secret. Lebeque, (a drug-addled lieutenant under Beckwith’s control) nearly destroys the ship, bringing on Spock’s uncharacteristic wrath over his inexcusable conduct. Chagrined, Lebeque confronts Beckwith and tells him he is going to report him to Captain Kirk. In retaliation and fear, Beckwith attacks Lebeque and others, before transporting down to the planet that is the source of the Enterprise‘s current chronological woes. Kirk, Spock, Rand and six redshirts go down to the surface of this barren rock to find the fugitive, but they find a glorious city and six ancient guardians; they are the watchers of all space and time and they have been on this planet for longer than they can remember. Beckwith attacks, again, only to hurl himself back in Earth’s past, using the time vortex that the guardians are tasked with watching.
With Beckwith gone, the timeline changes; Kirk and crew find that the Enterprise doesn’t exist and that the Condor has taken it’s place in orbit; it’s run by a band of pirates and her captain tries to take Kirk and the time-lost crew prisoner. Kirk and Spock leave Rand to hold the transporter room, while they return to the planet, in hopes of righting things back to their proper place. With a clue and a warning from the guardians, Kirk and Spock utilize the time vortex to find Beckwith; they arrive in the 1930’s to a mob of desperate men, in the midst of the Depression. When the mob turns violent, Kirk and Spock flee…
This issue finds Kirk and Spock, safe, but stealing clothes and trying to ascertain their situation. They find the kindness of a stranger, who helps them find employment and offers them shelter; but time is against them: Beckwith’s whereabouts are unknown and Spock’s tricorder suffers catastrophic damage. Before it becomes inoperative, it gives them the same clue that the guardians had given them. That clue leads them to Edith Keeler, a do-gooder sister who uses her time and influence to help the poor and suffering. Kirk falls in love, right-away, against Spock’s counsel that she is ‘key’ to what is to come…
That’s where we’re left, with Kirk leading Edith out into the city for a stroll. This story by Scott and David has many similarities to that beloved episode, but it also-has the vast differences that Harlan originally intended. For one, this version shows the dark side of the crew: Beckwith’s drug-dealing, extortion and violence, as-well-as Lebeque’s drug addiction and dereliction of his duties. We also have Spock’s anger, which is on full-display at the beginning of this issue; he calls the mob barbarians and argues with Kirk that his race is superior, in-that they were more-enlightened and that they were peaceful. Really? Granted, this story pre-dates the fleshing-out of Vulcan’s history (as we know it), but I found this intriguing. Plus, Kirk states that Vulcan’s started exploring space 200 years after Earth. Again, they’re working with material that’s half a century old, so I’ll not argue these points; instead – I’ll take it as it stands and try to forget all that we know. One humorous aspect: the tricorder gives a sort of a snarky remark before blowing its circuits. It was just unexpected to hear this device ‘behave’ in this manner. Moving on, Spock shows uncharacteristic anger, again, when confronting his boss over his pay. This is a side of the character we only saw when Spock wasn’t himself, or was under some alien influence, but it’s just another example of Harlan’s award-winning writing of this teleplay. Despite these differences in story, though, Scott, David, and – Harlan Ellison, himself, are doing a masterful job of bringing this teleplay to life. I’m very pleased with everything I’ve seen, thus-far.
JK Woodward, too, has simply amazed me. In this issue, we finally see Edith Keeler and she is stunning. Joan Collins will have no complaints, as JK has outdone himself with her likeness and eternal beauty. As I told him moments ago, there aren’t enough adjectives to convey my utter astonishment at his breathtaking images. Plus, his likenesses of Kirk and Spock are remarkable. I love how he’s kept the familiarity of the episode (i.e. Kirk and Spock’s clothes, the basement, apartment building and city sets, etc.), while blending-in the many new characters: the old man, Spock’s boss (JK’s friend, Andre Tessier), the big red, horned alien on the Condor, (aptly-named the D’rell T’lor, after our friend and podcaster, Darrell Taylor) and several-others throughout this series. But, on top of that, JK has worked-in homages to the show and Harlan Ellison’s other works in the form of ‘Easter eggs’; for example: the “I have no voice and I must scream!” poster in the cellar. His attention to detail is just staggering, and – like his work on ASSIMILATION2, I’m finding myself torn, between which work is better.
Let us not forget the brilliant work of Juan Ortiz and Paul Shipper, either. These covers are spectacular; each artist brings a uniqueness to their work, but manage to convey the same theme. I’m so glad I opted to purchase both sets, as they are awesome, in their own right. I honestly can’t find any faults; in the story, the art or the covers, and I’ve given each issue a five-star rating.
IDW, Thank you! This is one-helluva series, and you are all to be commended on a job well-done! Extraordinary! This is #GreatStarTrek!
‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone