(WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!!)
My friends, we’ve reached the final chapter in this historic, unprecendented retelling of Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever, and it’s nothing short of epic! We’ve come full-circle in this incredible tale, from the opening, with Beckwith’s abhorrent crimes against his shipmates, to his trying to escape retribution on a mysterious, barren world of unforeseen wonder; from Kirk and Spock leading the charge to capture him and finding an unlikely audience in the wizened time-lord Guardians, to jumping-back in time through the Vortex to set Earth’s history (and – it’s future), back to rights, after Beckwith’s inadvertent tampering; from Kirk, desperately trying to save everything he holds dear, to falling in love with a woman he cannot have, in a past he doesn’t know; bearing-witness to the racism of Spock’s presence amongst a disparate, hope-deprived society of 1930’s humans, to building the friendship that will cement him and Kirk together throughout the ages… This is how it was penned by Harlan Ellison nearly 50 years ago; this is how it truly came to pass, and how it will go forward, from here on out. “Time has resumed its shape.” – so to speak.
Don’t get me wrong, the classic episode will always hold a place in our hearts as one, if-not, the best episode of the old series; but – now, everyone will be able to choose their favorite, in a way that no one could’ve ever imagined a year ago. We have Chris Ryall to thank for that. He’s been a persistent, albeit-patient, advocate for this project for quite some time; he never-quite took ‘no’ for an answer, did he? And, Harlan, too – (who recently suffered a stroke and is improving daily), who – finally decided to bury the hatchet and give us, the loyal fans, this beautiful excursion from all that we knew; himself, at the very-center of this event. I’ve confessed this, before, I was unaware of Harlan’s award-winning teleplay, or the nasty history surrounding it – (that’s something, for a fan, who thought he knew it all); so, I’m truly grateful to him for letting this story be told – finally. Plus, on a personal-level, this undertaking will forever be a part of me, as I have been bestowed the greatest of gifts: the masterful JK Woodward has given me a cameo-appearance in this, the climactic final issue – (I’m wearing my trademark hat, standing in-profile around the trashcan-fire, where Beckwith has taken refuge for the night). What a honor, for me, to be grouped-in with the cameos of Chris, Scott, Harlan, and others, for this amazing ride! To JK, I say: “Thank you!” **tips his brim**
And, now…the conclusion. Having eluded Kirk and Spock in issue 4, Beckwith is still at-large in the past. Captain Kirk recruits the help of a crippled veteran (you’re going to be so surprised by this ‘guest star’), in helping find the renegade crewman. Meanwhile, Kirk and Edith Keeler fall deeper in love; the joy, and – anguish they are simultaneously feeling is palpable. Spock reports that Beckwith has been found. The convergence of time has come to this moment: the past must play out, lest the future be irrevocably changed, for better, or – ill. The moment plays…Keeler dies; the future resets. Beckwith meets with his just fate, as well. Aboard the Enterprise, Kirk is in mourning, but Spock is conflicted by the events he has witnessed. Their friendship is, now, rock-solid, and Kirk tries to console his second-in-command’s troubling thoughts and inner-turmoil, while Spock offers his friend comfort and sage words of wisdom. The Enterprise warps away…
I re-watched the episode last night, again, after re-reading this final issue a dozen times. The stories are so different, as to be laughable; the episode we’ve ranked as ‘the best’ leaves me shaking my head at its campiness. (But, I have thoughts on why Gene Roddenberry changed things; maybe some other time, eh?) I will never look at City on the Edge of Forever the same way, again. This version will forever be the one I will look to; I can’t wait to buy the TPB in January, so I can view it in its full glory.
Scott and David Tipton: I commend you on a job spectacularly done. This is absolutely pure gold-(pressed latinum)! I have thoroughly enjoyed the story you have brought to these pages: the dark side of the Enterprise, with Beckwith and Lebeque, the Guardians of Forever, the pirates, the love story of Jim and Edith, and it’s heartbreaking end, the cripple, Trooper, and the sacrificial role he plays, and most-especially, the story of Kirk and Spock. I’ve already read comments (in various outlets) that chastise how Spock is portrayed, but I think it’s a dead-on, accurate representation of his character; his awakening, as-it-were, and how he will fight the demons of his double-heritage for a good portion of his life. You made me feel for both of them, and that is the true goal of a writer, isn’t it? You have a faithful follower, here.
But, let’s not forget the outstanding, and – utterly astounding work of JK Woodward. There are some great artists out there, but it’s my opinion, that none of them could have done this story justice, as JK has. This man ranks up there with masters; his paintings are absolutely phenomenal, in scope, detail, beauty and feeling! In this issue, he has surpassed everything he’s done to date. One example: the look on Edith’s face as she realizes her imminent death; followed-up by the gut-wrenching agony Kirk feels, while the future simultaneously resets itself. Or, the mastery that he puts into Beckwith’s reckoning. My God! Yes, the Tipton’s have outdone themselves with their writing, but JK is the man who has brought this tale to life! (I’m not just saying that, because of the cameo, folks…) Also, I’d remiss, if I didn’t shine a light on Neil Uyetake for his creative lettering throughout. A fine job in every way.
But, YOU be the judge; treat yourself to something extraordinary, and buy City on the Edge of Forever. And, be sure to buy both sets of covers: Juan Ortiz and Paul Shipper have done a brilliant job, bringing their talents to the table.
Looking back, I do have some questions: Was Lebeque and the redshirt (in issue 1) killed? Why did we not have, at-least, a glimpse of the pirate ship, the Condor? What of Rand’s efforts to keep the transporter room secure; could we have had a couple of more panels showing this throughout the series? In hindsight, a couple of panels and dialogue could’ve addressed these questions; but that’s just my take. Other than that, I am completely blown-away. The City on the Edge of Forever has just taken its place (in my book), as the very-best Star Trek comic book series ever published! It’s #GreatStarTrek!
One final note: we here at VisionaryTrek continue to wish Harlan Ellison a full and speedy recovery. Peace and long life, Sir. And – Thank you…
‘Til, next-time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone