ATTENTION: SPOILER ALERT!
There are days, when I love what I do; today, is one of those days. I woke up, this morning, to find two new Star Trek comics, from IDW, in my dropbox, and a note from the boss, saying: “Review away…” Glad to, guys. Especially, when the material I’m reviewing is so spectacular. And, moreover – I’m thrilled, when I can be astounded-anew, as these comics have done, again. Putting aside the fact that both stories are near-and-dear to me, personally, and – that they both deal with time travel, they couldn’t be more-different. City on the Edge of Forever is a story that’s nearly 50-years-old (garnering fans’ acclaim in an altogether-different way, back in the day), telling of Kirk and Spock trying to restore the future, in the past; while The Q Gambit is fresh and new, tying-in many fan-favorite threads, into a sensational Kirk and Spock adventure; whereby, they’re restoring the past, in a very-different future. Both comics, though, are blowing the roof off of ‘the final frontier,’ as they blow our minds with some of the best artwork I’ve ever seen, and – both series, bringing writing to these pages, that’s setting new-levels of genius to this enduring franchise’s ongoing history.
Take Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever; the Hugo Award winner for ‘Best Dramatic Teleplay’ that is being retold by Scott and David Tipton, and painted by JK Woodward. In issue 4, the Tipton’s have brought the action, drama and, the anguish Kirk is dealing with, (between his feelings for Edith Keeler and his duty/responsibility to save his crew), to a crescendo, setting us up for what’s going to be, I’m positive, an epic conclusion. Kirk has fallen deeply in love with Edith, (and – she, for him), Spock has fixed the tricorder and learned of Keeler’s death, dutifully, if-not, reluctantly, advising his captain as to what must happen to complete their mission and, Beckwith has arrived in the past, to play whatever-role fate has for him, in the scheme-of-things to come. This was some of the best writing, yet; the scenes with Jim and Edith are beautiful, depicting their burgeoning love in an even-deeper way than the beloved episode ever did. While, the scenes with Kirk and Spock are incredible. You can hear how torn Jim is, learning new things about who he is and sympathizing with the choices he has to make. Spock, too, is shown in a new way, as he has to balance his very human feelings for his friend, while keeping the logic of ‘the needs of the many’ in the forefront of his arguments to his beleaguered captain. The love for a woman can rip best friends apart; both of them know this, and – neither of these men will be the same, in the final-act, as Scott and David continue Harlan’s masterful tale, bringing us ever-closer to its heart-gripping conclusion.
No-matter, how-good the writing is, though, if the art doesn’t convey the feelings, settings and actions of the writers, it will fall flat on its face. No worries here. JK Woodward has gone above and beyond, yet-again; these panels are nothing short of extraordinary, in their brilliance and scope. JK has captured NYC in all of its 1930’s elegance, and he has managed to breathe-life into the love Jim and Edith are feeling, with their every smile, look and expression. But, more – he has brushed-in the confusion she is experiencing, at Kirk’s strange behavior, as-well-as, the haunted emotions of a man ‘on the edge,’ with Kirk. I was particularly taken with the black and white flashback panels, of Kirk and Spock’s emotionally-intense conversation about Keeler’s imminent death. JK told me these were his favorite pages. “I love the lighting and the void of background,” he said. He was worried about whether he’d pull this off, but between his chat with Scott Tipton, and – some encouraging comments from me, and – others, today, I believe he’s feeling pretty confident about them, now.
About Spock, I asked JK about how he gets his spot-on likenesses, and he said: “The likenesses I take from the show. I use the actors’ expressions as much as I can so it looks familiar. However, being that this Spock is much-more emotive than the series’ Spock, I’ve had to make up expressions he normally doesn’t make.” He told me he did the same with Rand, in issue 2. Also, the banner of ‘The Sound and the Scythe’ at the music store, is from a Harlan Ellison short story. I can report that Harlan is very happy with the series. He calls JK after each issue and the they are becoming fast-friends; Harlan and his wife have invited JK to their home for dinner. All I can say is, thank you Chris Ryall, for never losing the dream of seeing this series’ emergence. Thank you, Harlan, for being the bigger man, in letting this series be retold, in this format. They are quickly becoming my favorite comic books.
Once-again, we’re treated to two awesome, if-not, totally-different covers for issue 4. Paul Shipper brings us his interpretation, using Kirk, Spock and a phaser-wielding Beckwith, with a NYC skyline in the background. Juan Ortiz, too, uses the skyline, but he’s opted to use silhouettes of Edith and Jim’s fast-growing love for one-another, under Spock’s ever-watchful countenance, (resembling a setting sun), as the backdrop. Speaking of covers: if you’re collecting them, issues 1 and 2 have gone to second-printings; both – by Ortiz. Be sure to get yours, from your favorite comic book dealer.
Well, I’m looking-forward to finishing this series; I am not, however, looking-forward to waiting a whole-month to see it. I’ll have to content myself, to re reading these first-four issues, over-and-over, again. I hope to share some good news with you, when issue 5 releases, though. Keep your fingers crossed for me, eh…
‘Til, next-time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone