You know, it’s nice to be surprised; especially, when you’ve thought you’d seen it all. Thanks to a new Facebook friend, M Anthony Gerardo, (who runs the Star Trek COMICS: Across Generations page), I was introduced to a brilliant Star Trek classic, from DC Comics. Originally slated to publish with Star Trek‘s 25th Anniversary, in 1991, Debt of Honor released in 1992; (after the release of Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country). This epic 96-page story was penned by Christopher Claremont, the art was courtesy of Adam Hughes and Karl Story (with Tom McGraw on colors), the lettering was done by Robert Pinaha (and, trust me – this guy deserves every kudo you can think of…), and it was edited by Trek comic icon, Robert Greenberger. (Funny, I’ve never met Bob, but I spotted his caricature immediately; which – Bob later confirmed for me, as being the man, himself. He was honored to be included.) The hardcover art was by Dave Dorman and the TPB cover (for which, my comic book store, The Dragon’s Keep, had a copy in-stock) was done by Jason Palmer; and both are amazing pieces. If my research is correct, this was the first TOS graphic novel; and, it’s a sheer work of art, in both its scope, and – imagination, if I might add.
The story takes place after the events of Star Trek: The Voyage Home, opening with equally-conflicted souls, James T. Kirk and Dr. Gillian Taylor; the former, still dealing with the death of the Enterprise and his son David; the latter is facing the consequences of her decision to displace herself from her time and all that she loved. They’re taking a much-needed break from the galaxy aboard a yacht/lab, on the high seas, as Dr. Taylor observes George and pregnant Gracie, (the humpback whales they brought forward to save Earth, from its near self-inflicted destruction, at the hands of an alien probe come to communicate with these intelligent creatures of the deep). But, while Kirk is facing the demons haunting his recent command decisions, other demons are getting ready to put the captain (and his crew) through their greatest test, yet.
While the Enterprise-A is currently being refitted, it’s sent on a very classified mission, which will take the crew to a region of space uncomfortably-close to the Romulan Neutral Zone, where they will rendezvous with the unlikeliest of allies: Klingon Commander Kor and a Romulan named T’Cel. Like this ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of-sorts, Kirk is all-to-familiar with T’Cel; as we see through shifting timeframes throughout the book. A young Lt. Kirk and the beautiful Vulcan T’Cel first-meet in this region, after the Farragut is nearly destroyed; working together to repair the limping ship, they fall in love and she saves his life, but she’s listed as a casualty… Incredibly, she turns up, again, during Kirk’s first 5-year mission (after Commodore Decker’s engagement with the Doomsday Machine); but-now, she’s the commander of a Romulan ship named Phoenix. T’Cel, once-more, returns after the V’Ger incident. Throughout, her loyalty to Kirk (as-well-as, her undying love for him), are key, to the events leading up to the smash ending. I’m not going to spoil this; you’ve just got to read it yourself.
There’s not a lot to complain about here; (although, the emphasis on McCoy’s southern twang, Chekov’s Russian accent and Scotty’s Scotish brogue were overdone, and could’ve been toned-down). Other than that, though, I loved everything about this sweeping adventure! As I’ve stated in the past, I don’t give a fig about continuity, or – ‘canon’! I just want a good story, and – by the gods, that’s what you’re going to get here. As our own Michael Clark told me: “This is a story that holds up really well. The art is really good…and, it’s a good Star Trek story” Dayton Ward wasn’t alone, when he stated: “One of my faves!”; as I heard this same sentiment from a dozen others, as well. My question was: How in the hell did I miss THIS?!
Debt of Honor has it all: cutting wit, time travel (through flashbacks), a beautiful love story, personal introspection and (as we all do) facing the consequences of your actions, edge-of-your-seat action, loyalty and sacrifice; plus – it’s a who’s-who of guest appearances, with characters that you’d’ve never guessed were going to show up! The real ‘star’, though, has to be the art and the brilliant minds who put it all together. It’s absolutely stunning; unparalleled in anything I’ve seen in a classic ST comic. And, I’m sure it was top-of-the-line for that era. You have to get this and see it for yourself (or, re – read it, if it’s been a while…) I’ve gotta take a minute and give M Anthony Gerardo a shoutout, to thank him for turning-me-on to this unforgettable saga… “Dude! Wow… This is #GreatStarTrek!!”
So, that’s it for me! I’m totally awaiting the next installment of The Q Gambit by Mike Johnson and Tony Shasteen; not-to-mention, the final chapter to Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever, by Scott and David Tipton, and JK Woodward. I’d like to take a moment and wish Harlan a very speedy recovery and send him our most-positive prayers and vibes. As someone aptly put it, though: Harlan didn’t suffer a stroke, he was annoyed by it. Well-said…
‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone