Star Trek in comics

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Space.  The Final Frontier.  These are the voyages of the starship, Enterprise.  Its mission; to explore strange, new worlds, to seek out, new life and new civilizations, to boldly go, where no man has gone, before…

This was the beginning to what has become the most iconic science fiction television series of all time – and the most hotly debated.  Some people think it is the worst thing that could have ever happened to SciFi.  Others, that it symbolizes everything that SciFi should be; part cerebral, part western expansion and all adventure.

We all know the story; Farm boy dreams of bigger and better things, joins the military, meets a southern doctor and goes off to have an adventure.  They meet an Elf who seems to know just about everything about anything and the three of them live happily, ever after… mostly.

When it was cancelled in ’69, many thought that was the end.  Silly, silly people.  Star Trek lived on in novels and comics and, eventually, came back in the form of a series of block buster movies and then several follow-up television series set in the future of the Federation.

But today, we’re looking at comics.  First up to have the license was Gold Key.  I don’t have any of the Gold Key comics but I went out and found some cover art for you to take a gander at:

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Gold Key had the license from ’67 – ’78.  I have no idea whatsoever if they were any good or not.  The cover art is very interesting though…  Gold Key held a lot of tv licenses though, so I wonder about quality of story and art.  If you are a fan, please let me know how these books were.

Next to have the license was Marvel.  Again, I don’t have any of these (that I recall).  BUT, I went out and found you some more cover art to check out.  Compare it to the Gold Key above – you can definitely see the ‘Marvel Style’ coming out in this cover:

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My initial reaction to these very different covers are this: Gold Key obviously did not have permission to use the font/logo, which Marvel did (or maybe they did, but chose to use something different?  Who knows?!).  Gold Key’s artwork is very retro/indicative of the 60’s (to me) compared to Marvel’s artwork which looks oh so very 80’s to me and very much in the Marvel style of books printed at the time.  Gold Key had better likenesses of the characters at first glance (McCoy & Uhura? look terrible on the Marvel cover – though Spock is recognizable as Spock).  Other than that, I don’t have much to say since I started when DC took over.  Again, if you’re a fan of the Marvel run, let me know – I’d love to learn more about them.

Speaking of DC…

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My very first Star Trek Comic.  As you can see, the Enterprise is heading straight for a fight with the Klingons.

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DC’s run was my favorite.  I’m going to talk about the publishers who came after in another post, but the rest of this one is all DC, so buckle up.

DC’s take was decent and faithful, in my humble opinion.  They had a lot of stuff that they had to deal with – mainly, the movies (There was no ‘Next Generation’ yet).  Essentially, the movies were canon.  Novelizations – not canon.  Comics, not canon.  SO any time they had a movie, the writers of the comics had to adapt.  Most of the time they did an excellent job.

When Star Trek 3 came out and Spock died, for example, they adapted in the comics and introduced new characters, had Saavik step in – that sort of thing.  Then, when Star Trek 4 came out, which took place days (or possibly weeks) following 3, they had to adapt again.  Same for when Star Trek 5 came out – had to adapt.

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Above you see two of the WORST characters ever created.  They were in Shatner’s ‘Final Frontier’, which was just horrible.

One of the things that the comics was able to deal with (somewhat), was the Trial of James T. Kirk.  Something that always bothered a cousin of mine, was the line from one of the movies (Was it 3 or 4?) wherein the Klingon Ambassador told the President of the Federation, “There will be no peace as long as Kirk lives.”.  When 6 came about, and Spock was suing for Peace with the Chancellor, that same cousin just couldn’t buy it due to that line from the movie.

In the comics, they brought this point back and actually had the Trial.

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A three part story-arc, The Trial of James T. Kirk allowed the writers to bring back many characters (including: Samuel T. Cogsley) from past storylines going back to the original television series.  The prosecution was trying to prove that Kirk had interfered with dozens of cultures throughout the decades, violating the Prime Directive time and again, causing chaos and leaving each world in a state of disarray they found it difficult, if not impossible, to recover from.

The verdict came in and Kirk was cleared of all charges and the Enterprise returned to duty once it became clear that there was a plot going on to cause mischief.  We also learned that the Klingon’s had a secret spy in Starfleet – that would come back later on.

It was an interesting story and take on the trial, and gave them an excuse to trot out a lot of the characters that we really wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

One of the things that comics (and novelizations) could do that Hollywood couldn’t (until 2009, that is), was bring us back to the original 5-year mission.

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So, rather than go in a straight line, so to speak – a lot of time, DC would take us back and forth – give us a few issues or a story arc in the ‘current continuity’, and sometimes go back and tell us a story from the past.  With this method, they managed to keep us entertained and engaged.  Fans of the Original Series got to see ‘Classic Trek’, or they could see something with the older crew still chugging along.

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And, what Trek book (or post) would be complete if we didn’t have Enterprise shown in all her glory! Through the years, they did a lot of really fantastic covers that featured Enterprise in every way and shape possible.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

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I have more to say about the DC run of Star Trek.  Stay tuned…

~P