To Boldly Go Once More: Reviewing ‘Star Trek’ #1
by Scott Redmond
‘Star Trek’ had a lot of expectations and hype surrounding it before the title even launched, but with just the first issue it meets and exceeds them very easily. This is a complete love letter to not just Star Trek and its legacy, but all the people and things that have been part of the franchise for almost sixty years. The future of Star Trek is very very bright.
All the way back in the 1990s, Star Trek was at a very interesting point. From a series that was canceled and then relaunched for a new era, it reached a point where multiple shows were being developed and launched creating a new mini-universe (not to forget the plethora of books, games, and other content also happening). It was the precursor of sorts for the current situation of a massive shared universe of shows that so many creative and talented people are bringing to life for Paramount.
Limitations, contracts, and various other reasons (such as not all the shows lining up in airing) kept the three shows of the ’80s/’90s (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek Voyager) from crossing over in huge major ways. There were characters that flowed through various shows (Chief O’Brien and Worf being the main ones) or themes or even episodes that followed up on other shows’ stories. Amongst all that we never got to see all the big-name characters of that era interact and go on adventures together.
Until now that is.
IDW Publishing’s return to creating a full line of Star Trek comics, outside of the minis and one-shots they had been doing, was music to my ears when I saw the news. Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly are the perfect duo to turn to for this revival, especially after the amazing work they did to shepherd the fantastic Star Trek: Year Five series recently that followed the original series crew. The fact that they had massive plans already in their heads for a mix-and-match series that helps bring the crews and concepts of all the eras together shows how much it was meant to be.
Before I go further, I have to speak about one specific thing that the duo has done that made me so happy to read this issue.
As a biracial person, I always had a hard time finding my palace in things. Not white enough for many and not black enough for others. Within the world of entertainment, there was a whole lot of white side representation, there was black side representation but far far less, and biracial representation was nonexistent that I could find.
When Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks, came onto the screen the first time I watched Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a child, my life was changed. Star Trek has been part of my life since I can remember and it was at that point in my early life (I was only seven years old) that everything changed as this show was one of the first things I watched that spoke to so many of the issues we’re still fighting today. A single Black father fighting back against oppression and tyranny and so much more alongside a crew of characters that fit into so many other marginalized roles.
There is no doubt that DS9 is and always will be my favorite Star Trek and being able to finally return to that world and see what comes next (the novels did a great job of that over the decades for sure) in a mostly canon style approach makes me quite happy. Building up such hype within one’s mind is generally a recipe for disaster because it can cause issues when the reality of what others created doesn’t live up to what’s been concocted within one’s mind.
Don’t worry, Star Trek #1 not only met all my hyped expectations but it took those expectations right out into the furthest reaches of space beyond my imagining. No lie, this is probably one of the best issues I’ve read this year, hell probably one of the best comics I’ve read period. Certainly, it is on the list of the best first issues that have ever been done, and that says a whole lot.
I almost can’t believe just how much Lanzing and Kelly were able to accomplish in just this first issue. We see Ben Sisko in the wormhole, we see DS9 (with Jake and Kira), we see Ben’s return and what comes of it, we get some Sisko/Picard, the reveal of the Theseus and its history, the surprise reveal of Scotty (hell yeah!), meeting the crew (including my boy Tom Paris, yep!), a great Sisko speech, some great character building moments for both new and old characters, a whole bevy of Crystalline Entities, and the first big glimpse of how powerful the threat is that Sisko has been sent to prevent. All in one issue!
None of it is cramped or rushed either, everything is paced brilliantly with plenty of room to breathe and nothing feels tacked on or left out. Enough is given to intrigue and delight while leaving plenty more on the table for the issues to come. This right here, this is how you do a first issue that knocks the socks right off, and they are gonna stay off for sure with how this series is going. The duo’s love for Trek is inherently clear and they are without a doubt the correct team to help kick off this new comic book era of Trek.
Comic books are a visual medium and Star Trek is a highly visual concept, and Ramon Rosanas and Lee Loughridge are perfect for this. I thought I was prepared for what they would bring based on some of the preview pages, but that was just the tip of the iceberg really.
Rosanas hit the right spot that I enjoy in adaptations, where the characters have the appearance and are recognizable as themselves based upon the actor that first brought them to life but it’s not just an uncanny exact photocopy. There is room for little differences to make the characters their own thing away from the real-life actors that played them. In comics, this is the character’s world fully as they ‘live and breathe’ within that world, rather than being broadcast into ours through a proxy. I’m sure that all made some bit of sense, just overall the characters felt like the characters rather than just a perfect recreation of a face.
I have to say this issue was just a visual feast all over the place. Every stop was pulled out, no expense spare, as we got the non-corporeal god Sisko, some amazing Deep Space Nine visuals, good old Enterprise stuff, the stunning reveal of the Theseus, and so much sci-fi tech goodness it’ll make your head spin from delicious Trek things, and those spreads at the end with the Crystalline Entities was a big fat juicy cherry on top of it all. Rosanas style is very smooth and kinetic but has massive weight/depth to it in every respect so all the areas feel just as real/powerful as the rest and the world inherently feels lived within.
At the same time, Loughridge is able to span such a vast array of color pallets and tones as the issue moves on. Deep Space Nine feels accurately drab and metallic and even cold, while the Federation ships have a brighter feeling to them (in some cases too bright which is that Starfleet aesthetic we all love). I love how there are a lot of really great filter hues going on through certain pages, especially big character entrances, that just set the mood and make things stand out even more (like the bright green surrounding Data in his entrance).
Space feels vast and cold and dark but also full of bright possibilities all at the same time, with a variety of colors to be found within planets and clouds and other phenomena that litter the space lanes of this voyage. Truly one of the most awesome things is the depiction of the space that the Prophets call home, being bright white and blindingly blue with Sisko’s arrival but then blinding with a red hue later as the Prophets become angry with their Emissary and declaring his mission a failure already.
Rounding out the team is the always amazing Clayton Cowles on letters, doing some spectacular work here. Not only is the dialogue spot on in a style that allows the character voices to really come out (I was fully hearing Scotty in my head amongst others), even the new ones, but the lettering for the Prophets and otherworldly scenes is gorgeous. It’s ethereal and powerful and elusive, very much feeling like it would belong to voices from beyond our realm of existence. No lie, the moment the large “…where no one has gone before” splashed across the first pages I felt my mind go into energetic overdrive, flashing back to all my cherished Star Trek–related memories.
As much as I gush about loving Star Trek up above, this team’s passion for the franchise, characters, and the universe is just as clear on the pages. This is going to be a fantastic journey.
Star Trek #1 is now available from IDW Publishing.