IDW Publishing has got the comics industry in quite a buzz regarding its acquisition of Top Shelf Productions, a relatively smaller comics publisher. So, what makes IDW special? Well, they do seem to have a geeky love for comics. And that leads to stuff like this collection of Star Trek stories. This is an IDW speciality so let that tell you something about IDW.
J.J. Abrams got it right when he chose to rekindle our fascination with the original Star Trek television series. This collection from IDW works in that same vein as it features stories in that particular universe: stories taking place in the hybrid of the original and the J.J. Abrams movies. This sets us up for a comics geekfest.
There are six stories in this collection: “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” “Vulcan’s Vengeance,” “The Galileo Seven,” “The Return of the Archons,” “Operation: Annihilate,” and “The Truth About Tribbles.” All but one are adapted directly from the original Star Trek. Each makes changes. Some, like “Where No Man Goes Before,” plays with the dynamics of the story, shifting it towards a more meaningful fight between Kirk and his old chum, not a villain on the verge of taking over some stars and planets and such.
The last story does a good job of stretching things further from the source material. We don’t only deal with the infamous tribles, that even the most casual Star Trek observer is aware of. We get a whole new story.
Writer Mike Johnson must have felt like a kid in a candy store. In this book, he makes some good work from the original Star Trek teleplays. Overall, this is a most ambitious project and it comes out on top. Tackling any franchise in a comics format is vulnerable of becoming quite a mechanical affair. This one does alright. The more I go back and view old Star Trek episodes, the more I’m in awe of what was ultimately accomplished. The opening and closing credits, with that eerie theremin-infused theme music, would indicate a show that could have just been a campy ode to sic-fi pulp fiction. But, as the best writing demonstrates, this was something with higher aspirations.
In the case of this IDW collection, it reminds me, at times, of the Dark Horse Comics treatment of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe where art and script turn into something magical. That’s the gold standard for such work. IDW is on the right track and this will satisfy many a Star Trek fan. At this point, the series can use some adjustments. There were four artists attached to this collection: Joe Corroney, Joe Phillips, Claudia Balboni, and Stephen Molnar. Perhaps it’s time to settle on one artist and build more of a chemistry between writer and artist. That said, what shines through is IDW’s authentic love for the material and a desire to accomplish more with it.
I think that time will tell in more ways than one what we see from IDW. Now it has the highly creative Top Shelf Productions in its camp. You would think that will spark a whole new wave of energetic work throughout the company. Time will tell.