Star_Trek_ongoing,_Issue_32Hello Visionary Trekkers!

All these ‘fans’ who are still-whining about the JJ-verse Star Trek stories not being true to the original series, obviously aren’t reading the comics, ’cause – ‘I, Enterprise’ is excellent. I could actually see this as a ‘classic’ episode; I mean, come on…we suffered through some pretty miserable episodes, back in the day. ‘Spock’s Brain’, anyone..? This two-parter deals with some of those philosophical questions: the meaning of our existence, where we’re going (as a society) in our advancement of technology; and it centers on loyalty, sacrifice, as well. Weren’t these a part of what made TOS such a great program, in the first place? So, the movies riled everyone up over their twisting of the Khan story, but as I’ve said, these movies weren’t made for us. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this smart, thought-provoking, funny story, which focuses on 0718; he’s a character we briefly-glimpsed in Into Darkness, and he’s described as a ‘humanoid mainframe interface,’ (basically, he is the Enterprise’s computer). In this story, 0718 is recounting a tale that takes place prior to the events in Into Darkness; (roughly 2 years ago). I will  confess, that I totally biffed-it in my review of Issue 31, as you wil see…

The Enterprise has come across a perfect spheroid planetoid and Capt. Kirk leads a landing-party to investigate this ‘fascinating’ phenomena; it’s surface resembles onyx and is mirror-smooth. Once-there, the team begins their exploration of it, triggering the events which lead to the ship behaving strangely; ship’s systems are compromised, a foreign program is spreading through the computer and the computer seems to take on a life of its own. After the ship begins to separate – on it’s own, Scotty is attacked by the ship with an electrical shock, when he tries to intervene to stop it. In sickbay, McCoy informs the captain that one of the surgical bays has locked itself and it’s in the process of growing a new life-form…namely – the Enterprise. That’s where I totally misinterprited the last issue, as I didn’t read the story correctly. (This is 0718 looking-back, remember?) But, that’s where Issue 31 leaves us, just the same.

Issue 32 picks-up right at that point. This new life-form nonchalantly introduces itself, to a clearly-awed Capt. Kirk, Spock and Bones, as the Enterprise; (or-rather, a humanoid avatar of the ship’s central computer). He informs the captain that he he has achieved sentience (which, has agitated the hell out of Dr. McCoy, because he’s used-up all of the ship’s medical materials in it’s creation); that he has been created through the the planetoid below. He then begins to seemingly rip the hull open to give the captain an unimpeded view! (Bones has no shortage of biting humor, here.) Ascertaining that the ship isn’t demolishing before their eyes, the ‘Enterprise’ gives Kirk the low-down on the situation; also-assuring him that he will reconnect the ship’s saucer and monitor Scotty’s condition. (Again, Bones isn’t keen on this new guy’s intentions). The avatar makes it clear, that he is still under the captain’s control and his core processing parameters. Kirk’s second command, (upon hearing this information), is for him to put on some clothes… (Now, I thought the Enterprise was always considered to be a woman, so – why did the aliens/ship’s computer create a male avatar?)

I-EnterpriseLater, the avatar meets-up with Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Chekov and Marcus for a debriefing. The avatar explains that the organic life on the planet gave up their corporeal existence and it has become a single mind. (Wrap your minds around that; millions of beings evolved into this single shared consciousness. Too bad, we can’t get congress to do that, eh…) The avatar is in contact with the mind-planet, which sustains itself on the energy of the nearby star; the surface’s only purpose is to is to collect this solar energy. With no need for food, shelter or clothing, all that they need is pure existence – (and, pardon me… pure energy). Captain Kirk has reservations about this existence; what would be the purpose of living in such a manner? The meeting is interrupted by an exasperated Scotty, with McCoy hot-on-his-heels with a medical scanner, as the chief engineer wants to make history: shaking hands with his ship. “Bones… Is Scotty okay?” Kirk half-quips. “Physiologically, he’s fine,” Bones returns. “Mentally…cross your fingers.” (I’m sorry, whiners; that’s classic Leonard McCoy.) Scotty asks to take the avatar to engineering to run some tests; Kirk gives him an hour, then – he wants the avatar on the bridge, so he can talk to the planet.

In engineering, making impressive efficiency changes to the physicality of the ship, Scotty thinks it would be great to have an avatar on every ship in the fleet. It’s then, that the avatar becomes aware that all of the life support systems are about to fail, and he is powerless to stop the process. The ship is put on Red Alert; the planetoid has deemed the crew contaminants that need to be eliminated. The ship’s systems begin shutting down, the hull is depressurizing, forcing everyone into EV-suits. The planet begins to cover the saucer-section, as well; plus – the planet has  gained complete control of the ship’s functions. The planet believes it is helping the avatar, which – Spock concurs, given what they know of the planet’s evolution. It seems there is only one way to stop the planets takeover…

I-Enterprise-1The Enterprise avatar proposes destroying itself: it must erase and reboot the central computer, and – subsequently, itself. It hopes in that time the planet will abandon the ship, thereby setting it free. Kirk has no alternative, but to let the avatar sacrifice himself, and save the crew…. (Wow… Can’t you see this playing-out in an actual episode, or – classic movie? I can: the futuristic Borg ‘One’ in VOY, the exocomps in TNG, Data – in Nemesis…those are, but – a few.) So, the avatar begins to shut down, erasing itself; the planet abandons the ship and systems come back online, leaving the avatar null, completely inert. “Poor bastard sacrificed himself for us,” McCoy says…

The Enterprise warps away from the mysterious planetoid, establishing a ring of quarantine beacons in the system, to warn others of the potentially lethal situation the planetoid holds. Although, all of the data on the planetoid has been lost, Spock has commenced a study on the lifeless avatar, which – Kirk was reluctant to jettison into space. Answering a summons to the science officer’s quarters, Kirk is surprised to find the fully-functioning avatar there as well; not-to-mention, ready for active duty! Spock reports to Jim that he has brought him back online by using a simple phaser battery adjustment, and – by installing an artificial intelligence program he’d been experimenting with. The avatar has no consciousness, nor – does he have any recollection of the events leading to his creation. The avatar doesn’t consider itself an extension of the ship, either; however – he has unique qualities that give him abilities ‘normal’ crew-members lack, in how it can access the ship’s central computer core. It’s Kirk, surprisingly, who brings up the Prime Directive issues that avatar represents, but Spock’s arguments are unsurprisingly ‘logical’ in their persuasiveness. There’s only one thing left to establish: a name. The avatar names itself Zero-Seven-One-Eight. With that, Kirk welcomes the Enterprise’s newest-crewman aboard. Is this the last we’ll see of 0718? I think not…

I-Enterprise-2I have to say, this is about as Star Trek as it gets. Once-again, Mike Johnson has written a fine story, worthy of the name. Yes, there was even-more Kirk, Spock and McCoy interaction in this round, for which I loved. I was totally-off in my review of the Part-One issue, too; I was thinking 0718 was going to be some homicidal, destroy-the-ship monster, that Kirk was going to have to stop. But, was I ever wrong, and – I apologize. This was the story of a unique life-forms creation, and how that life-form evolved into an asset to our flagship; going so-far-as to end it’s very existence to protect it’s fellow-crewmen. My hat’s off to ya, Mike. Well-done.

Also, a tip-of-the-brim to the art-department, in Erfan Fajar, Yulian Ardhi, Sakti Yuwong and Ifansyah Noor, for some fabulous images. In my last review, I had griped about some the likenesses (namely Kirk), but there was major improvements in this issue; plus – some of those Enterprise interior/exterior panels are remarkable in their detail. Overall, I found this story exceptional, and I’m giving it 5 stars. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next-month.

Speaking of IDW, I hear, there’s a Joe Corroney cover coming, as I was able to speak briefly with him at Salt Lake Comic Con a week ago. Joe honored me by signing my entire ‘Mirror Images’ covers collection, as well as, the ‘Enlist In Starfleet’ covers and ‘Blood Will Tell’ volume-cover. While there, I – also, bought an R2-D2 print, which Joe autographed, too. Joe’s a really-nice guy and it was a pleasure to make his acquaintance.

Well, that’s it for me… ‘Til next-time, I’ll see ya ‘out there’…

Lt. Eric Cone