Once-again, I’m finding myself amazed by IDW’s run of great Star Trek comics, of-late. As you all know, Star Trek comics have been going for nearly 50 years (with only a brief hiatus); in fact, the comics have had a longer run than the TV shows and movies, so-far-as continuity goes. Speaking of Star Trek comic’s history, don’t forget to pick up Joe Berenato’s ‘New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics,’ which just-released at the beginning of August, at Shore Leave.
I have to say, IDW has really been putting phenomenal product out here, and – it’s been pretty-consistent, too; well…with the exceptions of ‘Khan’ and ‘Countdown to Darkness,’ that is. Right now, they have two stellar stories going: ‘The Q Gambit’ and Harlan Ellison’s ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’; the writing on both is brilliant (with credits going to Scott and David Tipton, on the latter), as-is the art from JK Woodward and IDW newcomer Tony Shasteen on this series. In my opinion, this is some of the best Star Trek I’ve ever seen, in this long-lived history of comic titans.
When we left off (in issue 35), Kirk and crew were facing the mammoth spectacle of Deep Spane Nine and a trio of hostile alien ships; having been thrown into the future by Q, who has taken an in ‘interest’ in Captain Kirk. Q had made an appearance, beforehand, on Ambassador Picard’s ship, asking for Picard’s advice on how to handle the new future Spock’s actions have caused – (as-seen ’09’s Star Trek). Wanting no part of Q’s schemes, Picard sends Q away, where Q begins to torment Kirk in the past….
Issue #36 opens with the Enterprise under attack and getting beaten by the hostiles around DS9. Q lets Kirk know that he’s giving him a real-life Kobayashi Maru; that Kirk has the power to win, but it depends on his choices, otherwise – his crew will die. The aliens turn out to be Jem’Hadar and they take the crew and ship as property of the Dominion. Kirk is taken to Gul Dukat’s office aboard Terok Nor and is greeted as a ‘guest’; albeit – one who is ‘out of his time,’ Kirk and crew seem to have disappeared in the past, with no clues as to what their fate was.. Dukat briefly brings Kirk up-to-speed on events, as they stand in this timeline, then he throws him in a cell. Captain Kirk meets up with Scotty, Uhura, and – Benjamin Sisko. We learn that the crew have been separated into groups (according to shirt color) and are being held in various locations aboard the menacing station. After a daring resue by some friends, Kirk finds himself aboard the Defiant en-route to a very-different Earth. The image we’re left with, is the Golden Gate Bridge, festooned with the Klingon trefoil and the San Francisco skyline swarming with Birds of Prey…
Folks, Mike Johnson is clearly in-control and his writing is spectacular. He knows these characters, bringing them to life in every rich detail. I particularly love Dukat (who has some pretty-impressive battle scars), as he’s as arrogant and crazy, as we all know him from the show. Also, his hatred of Sisko seems even-more pronounced in this timeline. I love it! As for Sisko, himself, Johnson has him down-to-a-tee! Sisko is by-far my favorite captain in the Star Trek universe, and it’s good to know that he’s in very-capable hands. I was skeptical, at first, but I’m beyond pleased with the writing, thus-far. I especially-liked the ‘handling’ of how Sisko ‘convinces’ Kirk to abandon his crew and board the Defiant.. Mike is doing a great job of bringing Q to life, as well; he’s just as sarcastic and irritatingly-smug, as usual, while giving Captain Kirk only the vaguest clues, as to how Kirk should go forward in this ‘test.’
As for the art of Tony Shasteen… Damn! This is some of the best I’ve ever seen on the pages of a comic book. His attention to detail is phenomenal and his likenesses of everyone is spot-on; breathing-life into every single one. Every nuance, every gesture, every glance, it’s uncanny; especially, the eyes. And – it’s not just these beloved characters, it’s the ships, the interiors of them, and the station, the details of panels and readouts, the scars on Dukat’s face; yes – even those wretched lens-flares. I spied Garak and Weyoun with Dukat, at the station’s airlock, when Kirk is brought aboard; now, that’s surely going to be intriguing (Garak is another favorite character of mine). And, did I see Morn, as well? I’m wondering who the sciences crewmembers are with Spock and Bones,; (maybe – some friends of Tony’s in real life, eh..? Maybe…Tony will draw his favorite reviewer into an upcoming issue… Ahem…) Anyway, I see Tony Shasteen being with IDW for a long time, and – I can’t wait to see what he brings to the table in the rest of this series.
As you know, ‘The Q Gambit’ launched a new letter’s page (with my friends at VisionaryTrek.com, Bunny Summers and Michael Clark), last month; Sarah Gaydos, Mike Johnson and Tony Shasteen encourage you to forward your questions to OPEN CHANNELS, where they will give you behind-the-scenes tidbits and, maybe – a sneak-peek from upcoming installments. This issue, they unknowingly-fulfilled a dream of mine; for 40-odd years of comic book collecting, I have longed to have one of my questions submitted, and – answered in a comic-book’s letter’s page. I’m very proud, that this dream has become a reality in this latest-issue of ‘The Q Gambit’; answered by none-other than Mike Johnson, himself, and – introduced by series’ editor Sarah Gaydos. Guys, Thank you… You have made me one of the happiest fans on planet Earth.
This month, they encourage you to post questions for Tony Shasteen, so here’s mine: Tony, what advice would you give to a new, aspiring artist, who wants to break-into the world of comics?
That’s it for me. I love this series and I have given this issue five stars; just look at that cover! It’s brilliant! I highly-recommend that you get to your comic-book store, or – download this series, right-away! You, truly, will not be disappointed. This is #GreatStarTrek, folks.
‘Til, next-time, I’ll see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone