Star Trek The No-Win Scenario (Star Crossed)
One of the things I wanted to talk about with the whole Star Trek Comics at DC thing, was the treatment of Kirk in the Academy, and his solution to the Kobayashi Maru as detailed in the three issue story arc called ‘Star Crossed’.
In the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, we see a Vulcan woman in command of the Enterprise. Sulu is at the helm, Uhura at communications – even Spock and McCoy are there. The Enterprise is answering a distress call from a ship trapped in the Klingon Neutral zone. A ship called the Kobayashi Maru.
For the Starfleet Captain, there is a moral imperative to rescue the stranded crew, but doing so violates the terms of the Neutral Zone Treaty with the Klingon Empire.
The Vulcan woman, Saavik, orders the ship into the Neutral Zone to rescue the stranded vessel. As soon as they are within transporter range, a Klingon armada appears and attacks.
It’s a trap. The Enterprise is out numbered, out gunned and under attack from a ruthless enemy.
A ‘no win scenario’. At its heart, this is a test of character, as Kirk explains to the young cadet Saavik.
“May I ask, how did you do?”
“You may ask,” he replies coyly.
“You’re looking at the only cadet to beat the no win scenario,” Bones says with a grin.
When JJ Trek came out on DVD, one of the things that amused me was Abrahms comments about the Kobayashi Maru test. In one of the special featurette thingies, he said that we had never seen Kirk’s solution for the Kobayashi Maru before, which was why he felt it was a important moment to capture.
Well, he was wrong about having never seen it before (Maybe he just meant on film). DC gave us three issues in ’95 that shed a little light on the whole thing. Starting with issue #73, they took us back to a young Jim Kirk at Starfleet Academy, about to try for the third time to beat the dreaded Kobayashi Maru test.
This three issue story arc gave us a glimpse into Kirk’s past; his relationship with Carol Marcus as it develops over time, his best friend (which apparently didn’t happen in the JJ Trek timeline) Gary Marshall (remember him? He truly went ‘where no one has gone before…’), and the events leading up to the Motion Picture.
The story begins with Kirk at the Academy, frustrated at his ‘failure’ to beat the Kobayashi Maru test. Not one to accept defeat, he enlists the help of Carol Marcus in reprogramming the simulation, making it possible to defeat the test.
Next, we see him as First Officer on the Eagle, and we watch as the relationship with Carol slowly starts to come apart when she is assigned to the ship but her frustration with Starfleet comes to a head. She leaves Starfleet and Kirk when she’s two months pregnant with David, a fact Kirk doesn’t know about until he and Gary return to Iowa for a family visit. When he finds out that Carol has had a baby, he asks her to marry him; she refuses and asks him to stay out of their lives, telling him that she doesn’t want David involved in Starfleet or to know Kirk at all.
Kirk agrees, then takes his first command on the Oxford, which eventually leads him to command of the Enterprise.
By the third issue, #75, we are at the end of the 5-year mission. Enterprise is ordered in for refit, and the crew is breaking up. McCoy quits Starfleet, soon followed by Spock, who plans to return home to purge all emotion in the Vulcan discipline of Koh’linar. Again, Kirk looks to Carol Marcus.
Nothing has changed between them, though, and Carol still doesn’t want David anywhere near Starfleet. Torn, Kirk has to choose between a family he doesn’t know, the career he’s always wanted, and the promotion to Admiral being offered to him…
Okay – enough synopsis.
First off – the cover art on these issues is absolutely friggin GORGEOUS (click em. Go on. You KNOW you want to)! The last issue in the arc, #75, was hand painted (I believe) for godsake. I really admired how the writers wove the two stories together with the canon as we knew it to build a very cohesive and engaging tale, and how they took the ‘no win scenario’ of the Kobayashi Maru, and applied it with a bit more subtlety to Kirk’s choices in life between family and career.
The only other time I know of where Kirk’s Starfleet days, and specifically the Kobayashi Maru test were mentioned, was in the novel, “The Kobayashi Maru”, by Julia Ecklar and Pocket Books (I could be wrong. There could be other versions of it). That might actually be more difficult to find versus the DC three issue story arc, though (It’s definitely out of print, so your best bet would be a used book store). Either one would be worth your time, but with the DC comics, you’d get that gorgeous art to stare at.
Whichever way you go, you’ll win…