Monday, September 6, 2010

We Need More Star Trek Comics!

Actually, thanks to IDW Publishing, we have plenty. Star Trek is one of those properties that doesn't really lend itself to the comic book medium-- it's too static. Lots of stiff, uniformed people standing around around the captain's chair. Nothing illuminates this difficulty like Marvel's atrocious Star Trek/X-Men books. Gold Key pulled it off by making the stories more Flash Gordon than Gordon Cooper. Marvel couldn't match the success of their Star Wars series when they adapted the first movie into a one-shot and a short-lived monthly. I rarely read Malibu's or DC's versions very often, and when I did, I quickly fell asleep. Strangely enough, I've enjoyed John Byrne's various IDW Trek books-- especially Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor.

Byrne has a loose style that lets him slightly caricature McCoy and the rest of the cast so he's not destroying panel-to-panel flow with portrait shots (like my little unfinished Kirk sketch above; I'll tighten it up a bit tomorrow and add it to the ol' portfolio)-- a common failing in DC's Trek comics. And he excels at hard sci-fi; even during his Fantastic Four days, Byrne worked in a number of science fiction concepts, usually in the interest of debunking common comic book tropes. Frontier Doctor is still full of dialogue sequences with people standing around jawing at each other and explaining things. Kind of reminds me of romance book storytelling, but then Byrne always had a way with quiet, character moments even when doing superheroics.

He obviously knows his classic Trek, too. Byrne's Trek books are what Gold Key might have done if they hadn't aimed their stories at children.

Still, those old Gold Key Star Treks have something all the subsequent series have lacked-- charm. I don't mind the rehashed plots-- ghost planets, space pirates, shrink rays (Kirk even gets tied down a la Gulliver's Travels in that one), de-aging (once by mechanical device and later by radioactivity) and the like-- the blond Scotty, the Kirk who often looks like Hoagy Carmichael or the green shirts on the crew instead of the familiar gold, blue and red. Those books are total fun.

And we need more fun in our comics. Kirk certainly does. He looks a bit stressed.

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