A few months ago IDW began a new series of Star Trek comics. These are quite different from normal comics in that they feature photo-realistic artwork, i.e., all the characters and scenes are as they appeared in Star Trek: The Original Series rather than an artist’s free inspiration. Called photonovels by IDW’s Star Trek team, the first issue was quite a fun little story that tied into the original show and gave a fun new story for readers and fans. And now IDW is going full-out with these, creating an entire line of such comics, and I think that it is a fantastic time for such an experiment.
Star Trek: New Visions #1 is the first of this new series and it ties into the episode where we saw the Enterprise of another reality, one where the Federation is a tyrannical conqueror rather than a multi-species alliance united in common cause. The issue picks up quite soon after the events of that episode and then it moves forward, charting new territory and bringing back some old characters in new forms. And the ending, well that’s a kicker all right. John Byrne’s photomontage/story is pretty excellent here and the experience is just as intense and entertaining as the original episode was.
Mirror, Mirror is the classic episode that this issue ties in to. In that episode, we saw that due to a transporter malfunction some members of the Enterprise’s senior crew were transported to another reality and their counterparts in that reality transported to the reality that we know. Lots of adventures followed as both sets of reality-displaced crew members sought to change the status quo as they saw it. Now we saw how that entire story continues once the Alternate-Kirk and Alternate-Spock jump back into the “real” reality and continue their plans within plans to once again seek control of the Enterprise.
The best thing about this issue is that John Byrne’s dialogue and narration hew very, very close to the feel of the original show. His characters feel and talk like the characters I’ve grown up watching and reading about, which is what I wanted out of this issue and that is exactly what I got out of it. Even when John is focusing on the alternate-reality we see how well he understands them and their motivations, so as to not wrong-foot the viewers of the original show. At the same time, there is ample information here for the reader who is coming into these comics for the first time, even if you are only passingly familiar with these characters.
Don’t expect to find the same characters as those from the recent reboots, you won’t find those here, not at all, and part of that has to do with the photomontage art, which is quite amazing really, to see it all rendered so. In many ways, this issue really is no different than an illustrated book that features characters from movies and television shows, and in that respect it is just like any other comic really. It just doesn’t have stylised art that is the interpretation of an artist(s) working on the title. The entire feeling of the art is that you really are watching an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series and I loved that from the start to the finish.
Best of all is that the story that John Byrne tells here is very intense. A bit too many twists and turns in the story, but otherwise I really had fun reading about all these characters, especially all the alternate-reality characters. Real-Kirk is quite different from Alternate-Kirk and Real-Spock is very different from Alternate-Spock. The differences between them propel the story forward all the way to the bitter end for some of these characters and I even felt a little glee at what happens to the villains. Because honestly, that totally was coming and it is executed well.
And in doing so, John Byrne presents another vision of the Enterprise that I would love to see, especially after reading Mike Johnson’s Star Trek #29 and #30 which featured a gender-flipped crew of the original Enterprise and both those issues were pretty decent reads.
In closing, I just want to say that this photonovel/comic was quite an intense experience and that I’m definitely onboard to read more comics like these, and hopefully IDW is successful in this endeavour.