Newest Review: ... and meet with Spock and offer his ship the Narada for a secret mission to mine decalithium and attempt carry out the Federation Ambassado... more
Star Trek: Countdown - J. J. Abrams
Member Name: Jake Speed
Star Trek: Countdown - J. J. Abrams
Advantages: Decent fun
Disadvantages: I can take or leave the art
This is only the second Star Trek graphic novel I think I've ever encountered (the first was a comic adaption of Star Trek III: The Search For Spock) and although my expectations were not high it's not a bad read at all with sometimes striking art by David Messina. The art is very Through A Scanner Darkly, as if the artist has painted over real pictures. It's crisp and bold if perhaps a bit too safe and samey. Sometimes great and sometimes prosaic. I'm not the biggest fan of this type of art (it tends to dominate the British published Marvel comics which I always avoid) and the colours are too washed out at times with a lot of dark hues (presumably an attempt to give the comic a bit of grit). The characters certainly look like their live action counterparts though and the space battles are all enjoyably conveyed with good detail. I'm not a rabid fan of the Star Trek reboot film so I didn't really care that much about where Nero came from or why he became a nutty villain covered in tattoos trying to hunt down a geriatric Mr Spock etc. It was more interesting to me to see what they did with The Next Generation characters who feature in the book and how they tied them in with the reboot film. Eight years after the events of the last Next Generation film, we see here that the android Data is now Captain of the Enterprise. Data of course got blown up in the last film but not before he had transferred his existing programming and memories to B-4 - the identical android duplicate of himself. Anyway, Data is now back to his old self and becomes involved when the Enterprise goes to the aid of the Narada when it is attacked by the Remans (the villains of the last Next Generation film).
Because the films are referenced so much it goes without saying that you possibly need to have some sort of knowledge of the franchise and Star Trek in general to get the most out of this comic. You could probably dip straight in regardless but they do seem to count on you knowing certain things already. It serves as a decent "what If?" speculation on what might have happened to some of The Next Generation characters although there are one or two problems with this. My main complaint would be with what they did with Worf. He's a general in the Klingon Empire now and I really didn't care much for how they left the character. Jean Luc Picard appears too although he's no longer the captain of the Enterprise but the Federation Ambassador to Vulcan and - of course - becomes involved in the mission to save the galaxy from the supernova. The likeness of Patrick Stewart is very good but I don't think they really flesh out the characters much here and make them terribly vivid. Spock is probably dealt with the best and more care is taken to establish him and his actions (understandably as the character was to feature in the Abrams film). The comic riffs too on The Next Generation "Unification" arc where Spock went to Romulus to try to broker some sort of unification with Vulcan afters years of distrust. This is the explanation for why Spock is on Romulus and gives him some good panels at the start. "Romulus. My home for the past forty years. When I first came here I was with the underground reunification movement. Hiding in tunnels, working in shadows. But slowly I saw those few Romulans who were open to outside ideas grow into many. Romulan society went through several years of transformation. Curiosity, tolerance, and diplomacy ceased to be forbidden words in the Empire. Finally, immigration laws were passed, and I was allowed to live legally on Romulus. After years of covert resistance, I could finally assume the role of Ambassador and work for peace without fear of reprisal. But there is still a long way to go."
The former Enterprise engineer La Forge also appears too. He's designing ships now and creates the "Jellyfish" - an experimental ship that will allow Spock to deposit the Red Matter. Aside from Worf, it's not a bad treatment for Picard and company although I'm not sure I would consider this comic or Abrams film to be part of the Star Trek canon anyway. The comic throws a lot of action at the reader and there are some typically Star Trek ethical and moral dilemmas thrown into the mix too. It isn't the most complex graphic novel and there are plot holes you could fly a shuttlecraft through but it just about all ties in together and works. I like the new Starfleet uniforms and also the character posters and sketches at the beginning and end of the book. The likeness of Leonard Nimoy in a sketch at the end is excellent. Weaknesses are of course that a galaxy threatening entity is rather old hat by now after umpteen Star Trek films and I don't think that Nero is ever that interesting a character either here or in the actual film. You do see though how he and his crew acquired their tattoos and managed to turn their mining ship into an indestructible vessel capable of destroying Starships though. That was a nice touch I admit, especially the latter. There are a few amusing lines ("Friends, Romulans, countrymen... we share the same ears....") but much of the dialogue and explosion is perfunctory and very straight ahead comic book. When we meet Nero and his mining crew at the start the banter is relaxed and familiar to stress how he was once a normal person. Someone says the word "ass" for example. Ahem. This is a decent comic although you'd probably need to be a fan of Star Trek or the JJ Abrams film to really love it.
Star Trek: Countdown runs to just over a hundred pages and at the time of writing is available to buy for under a fiver. I enjoyed it but it's not something I would consider an essential purchase and the Scanner Darkly art I can take or leave.
Summary: Not bad
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