Anghus Houvouras reviews the first issue of IDW’s Star Trek Into Darkness movie prequel…
“The countdown to the motion picture event of 2013 begins here in this blockbuster 4-issue prequel mini-series that sets the stage for the upcoming Star Trek film!“
Star Trek > Star Wars.
Take a minute and let that wash over you.
I always preferred Star Trek to Star Wars. Star Trek always seemed more challenging and cerebral. It wasn’t just guys in robes swinging laser swords with nebulous religious undertones and magic powers. There was a stronger focus on a varied cast of characters and a lot of lofty ideas at play. For a science fiction purist, Star Trek was always the superior destination.
J.J. Abrams‘ reboot of the Star Trek franchise felt like a major paradigm shift. Reinventions are always difficult on the hardcore fans who have been following the properties for decades because undoubtedly some aspect that you loved will be abandoned or radically changed. I for one felt like 2009’s Star Trek got so much right that it was hard to feel disappointed. Sure, Abrams jettisoned the loftier themes and high minded sci fi themes in favor of blistering action and insane set pieces, but he seemed to realize that the characters were always the most important factor in the Star Trek equation. He gave us a cocky Kirk and a conflicted Spock and all the drama that makes Trek so much fun. Star Trek Into Darkness is easily one of the most anticipated films of 2013, and IDW’s newest Star Trek comic series Countdown to Darkness provides a lead up to the movie.
Spock finds himself in a restless state, unable to sleep and plagued by nightmares focused on the death of his mother as seen in the film. Like all creatures of logic, he struggles to address the emotions running deep within. His relationship with Uhura seems to be suffering. I suppose losing your Mother and your home planet will do that to a guy.
Kirk is also a little off. Command is taking its toll. He hasn’t quite clicked with the crew and he’s a little lonely. Apparently Kirk hasn’t quite mastered the art of visiting alien cultures and bedding them with marked regularity.
Their mission is a boring scientific scan of the planet Phaedus, a society that is on par with ancient Rome and thus the Enterprise’s role is strictly observational. However, there’s more to Phaedus than initial scans suggest. An energy field emanates from the planet disabling communications. Kirk, Spock, Sulu and an unnamed Redshirt head to the planet’s surface to investigate. Then, their shuttle is fired upon and crashes on the surface. The locals seem to possess technologies far more advanced than their antiquated society should be capable of. It seems like Kirk and Spock have gotten themselves into another sticky situation. Before the situation can devolve into a bloodbath, a former Enterprise Captain named Robert April appears in the final panel for a TO BE CONTINUED MOMENT.
Countdown to Darkness does a good job of reorienting readers with the characters. Like the best Star Trek stories, it gives us strong characters and spends ample time getting into their heads before presenting us with a conundrum. The story by Roberto Orci and Mike Johnson sets the right tone and captures the characterizations of the movie. David Messina’s art is well suited for the Enterprise and it’s crew and has a great cinematic quality.
Star Trek Countdown to Darkness #1 has done its job with marked efficiency. We get the enjoyable characters and drama we expect from Star Trek. We even get some of the loftier themes with a debate over the Prime Directive. Countdown to Darkness is more talky than the Star Trek film, which works better for the medium. Movies are about forward momentum and keeping audiences on the edge of their seat. They’re about eliciting reactions. Comics give us the added dimension of the internal monologue and aren’t always reliant on bombast. In some ways I think Star Trek is better served by the serialized storytelling of television and comics.
I look forward to seeing what happens next in Countdown to Darkness and the further comic book adventures of the Starship Enterprise.