First off, I have already written my reviews on this series (individually), but I’d be remiss, if I didn’t take a moment and give this magnificent graphic novel the praise and respect it so deservedly merits. It’s a masterpiece of brilliance, that’s taken damn-near fifty years to be told, as it was originally intended, by the now legendary, Harlan Ellison. So, let’s review anew, shall we…
Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever
Published by: IDW Publishing
Original Teleplay by: Harlan Ellison
Adaptation by: Scott and David Tipton
Art by: J.K. Woodward
Lettered by: Neil Uyetake
Cover(s) by: Juan Ortiz and Paul Shipper
Edited by: Chris Ryall
Collection Design by: Claudia Chong
Collection Edits by: Justin Eisinger and Alonzo Simon
OVERVIEW: It’s the culmination of this breathtaking five issue series, masterfully brought together, finally, in all its majestic glory in a hardcover graphic novel; adding beautiful new credit page and issue separation art (which, also uses the Juan Ortiz covers), and to start it, there’s an introduction by Harlan Ellison, himself, as well as, all of the Paul Shipper covers at the story’s end. Plus J.K. Woodward shares how his art proceeds from idea, to page, to the unmasking, in a terrific segment. He also gives away the locations of Easter Eggs that are scattered throughout, and shares a bevy of behind-the-scenes information in the final ‘Artists’s Annotations’ pages. Last, but, most certainly not least, Harlan Ellison has the final word…
THE STORY: Kirk and Spock journey back in time to 1930’s Earth, through a time vortex on an alien world; to restore its shattered history and to capture a renegade crewman, turned lawless fugitive, after he transforms their future into something unrecognizable…
Whether you’re a devoted fan of Gene Roddenberry’s highly regarded, and beloved ‘classic’ TOS episode, or – a newly-inspired Trekkie who can appreciate this ‘original’ version, as adapted by the Tipton brothers, there’s is no denying that what these men have achieved is nothing short of amazing. For me, Scott and David Tipton have kicked my respect level [for them] up a thousand notches, cementing their place in modern-day times, as two of the best comic book writers to ever work in this industry. And, to know that Harlan Ellison uses the words “over the moon” to describe their work (in this graphic novel’s introduction), is both humbling, and flattering, for me, as I have used those very same words, in my own reviews of this record-breaking series! To the Tipton² I, once again, say: “Bravo! You are truly masters of the game!” And, to Chris Ryall (who’s perseverance made this dream come true), Ted Adams and the IDW staff: Thank you, for letting these guys do their thing. Let me not forget Neil Uyetake, as well; as always, his lettering was flawless and he did an exceptional job.
THE ART: Absolutely stunning, on every level! No matter how good the writers are, a comic book will fall flat on its face, if the art doesn’t carry the story that’s being told. J.K. Woodward has not only carried this series, but he has lifted it into the stratosphere! This comic book series succeeded, because J.K. literally breathed life into every character, every detail and every panel, every step of the way. He met that challenge head-on; then he went further still and gave it his heart and soul, exceeding every expectation, time, and time, again.
With every issue, J.K. left me speechless; just when I thought he could give no more, he stepped-it-up and left me, yet again, without words. Upon reading this collection, I am staggered anew by his talent and by the sheer passion that he so obviously put into this series. He’s left me without adjectives, no way to express my enjoyment of his paintings, and I’m powerless to adequately describe J.K.’s brilliance. To paraphrase Captain Kirk: “Of all the souls I’ve encountered in my comic book reading lifetime, his is the most magical.” For this, my friend, IS magic, itself!
THE COVERS: Juan Ortiz and Paul Shipper have left their marks upon this series, as well. If Harlan, Scott and David are the brain and body of City, and J.K. is its soul, then Juan and Paul are its face. While, both artists stamped these issues with their uniquely different styles, this series would not be the same without them. I thought the Ortiz covers were my personal favorites, because they pressed the point that time was of the essence; relaying the classic story within, one cover at a time. Indeed, Juan Ortiz’s covers adorn my walls; (that’s my highest compliment to a comic book cover artist).
However, for my ‘Year In Review’ I chose Paul Shipper’s Issue 5 cover as ‘Best Cover of the Year’, as it paid homage (in my opinion) to Bones and Uhura in their ‘classic’ episode roles, while reminding us that Yeoman Rand played a vital role in Harlan’s original teleplay, alongside those of Kirk and Spock. For personal reasons, I gave these covers to my daughter, Erica, for Christmas; they, now grace her walls. Whomever your favorite cover artist is for City, they both went above and beyond, in my opinion.
PERSONAL NOTE: I have a similar story, to the one in Harlan Ellison’s ‘Afterword.’ Around July, I was chatting with J.K. about Issue 2, interviewing him on Facebook for my review. In my closing comments to him, I said: “Hell, I’d be over the moon (to be in a comic book). Even as a redshirt!” To which, J.K. replied, “Maybe I can fit you in Issue 5.” Well, again – I was speechless, but I kept it secret, until the conclusion, Issue 5, came out. I quickly scanned the pages and found the panel I was in (I’m Hobo #1, the one in profile over the fire, wearing my Australian B.C. hat, on page 6): I was sure it was me! That said, I wanted to confirm it, before I made an idiot of myself. So, I asked him: “Is that me?” J.K. responded, with one word: “Yup!” Well, I’m not going to lie, I was moved to tears. Now, having read Harlan’s personal account of his similar story, in the afterward (especially, as Harlan and I share a panel, with Kirk and Spock, and are wearing hats we love), well… I know, I’m in good company. And, yes – we’re both immortalized by a true ‘Master of the Arts.’
Here’s to you Harlan! Thank you… For creating this story, and for allowing a humbled fan to play a small part in it, all these decades later, through the hands of J.K. Woodward.
‘Til, next-time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone