Writer, Editor, Author

Tag: Star Trek: The Next Generation

Everywhere You Look These Days, It’s Comics, Comics, Comics!

Hey, look! Random notes!
  • For Christmas, I got a copy of that really big book 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking, by Paul Levitz. It’s taken me a while to make much of a dent in it (though it could certainly put a dent in just about anything else) but it’s a really great book. The presentation alone is fabulous.
  • The Wolverine was a decent movie, but I’m afraid it hasn’t stuck with me. (My previous post on the movie was written in mid-August, but somehow I forgot to publish it until now!) I was compiling a list of this year’s releases for work-related research and actually forgot it came out. Maybe once it hits Blu-ray, it’ll make more of an impression. Same for Man of Steel.
  • I’m still not especially interested in the various DC TV series, having sampled Arrow and never taking to Smallville despite numerous attempts to get into it. Plans for Fox’s Gotham series sounds like it could change that, though I also really would like to see that WB-Fox collaboration yield a home-video release of the 1966 Batman TV series. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was entertaining and full of quippy characters but not exactly strong on story, making it a fairly typical Joss Whedon TV series. I hope it gets better. 
  • My 2-year-old daughter loves superheroes, as I have mentioned before, and one of her favorites is Wonder Woman. Looking at the version of Wonder Woman that gets licensed to the mass market, I have to say I like it a lot more than I ever liked any of the WW comics I have read. 
  • I bought some digital comics a while back to pass the time while my daughter played at a local playground. It was a smooth process and a nice reading experience, though I still think they are priced too high. For $1.99 or more, I want a physical copy of the book, too. 
  • Thor: The Dark World is looking pretty good from the various trailers and such — better than the first one. I missed Kick-Ass 2; will have to catch it on Blu-ray. 
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation first went on the air 25 years ago this week. This makes me feel old. I was a freshman in college when it came on, and vividly remember how excited people were to have an actual sci-fi show back on the air. I never would have believed in 1987 that there would be so much sci-fi, fantasy and comics stuff on TV and in movies as there is now. 
  • I’m reading the novel of A Game of Thrones and really enjoying it. But, boy, has it been a long time since I’ve read 800 pages of prose fiction! Does anyone know for sure if the shadowcats mentioned in the book are a reference to Kitty Pryde of the X-Men? I know George R.R. Martin is a Marvel fan and Claremont put references to Martin’s book The Armageddon Rag into the X-Men and The New Mutants way back around 1984. Anyway, I’m finding the effort, so far, is worth it. Now, if I can just stay awake long enough to find the time to finish it … 

Braga’s TNG miniseries is great Star Trek comfort food


I’m a long-time Star Trek junkie. The original TV series became an instant favorite when I was 6 years old and it was shown each afternoon after school in syndication. Star Trek: The Next Generation was an immediate favorite of mine when it came on the air in 1987 — at a time when there was almost no sci-fi, fantasy or genre fare to be found anywhere on TV — and it remains one of my favorites.

Star Trek: The Next Generation — Hive #1-4 (IDW, $3.99 each) boasts as its key selling point a story by Brannon Braga, who was a writer and eventual executive producer on TNG and many of its theatrical and television followups. The key influence here is the 1996 feature film Star Trek: First Contact, which Braga wrote with Ronald D. Moore, and is generally regarded as the best by far of the four TNG movies.

This series begins in the 29th century, by which time the Borg have fully assimilated the entire galaxy and Capt. Jean-Luc Picard reigns with the Borg Queen as Locutus. Realizing the Borg have hit a dead-end, he concocts a time-travel plot to alter history. Back in the 24th century, the Borg seek the help of the Federation to stop the alien Voldranaii, which they claim they cannot assimilate and which poses an equal threat to both civilizations. 
That set-up is enough to get me on board for all four issues, especially when the script by Terry Matalas and Travis Fichett, and the art by Joe Corroney convey the classic feel of the show so well. As has often been the case with Star Trek comics, the storytelling style of the TV show comes off as a bit slow and talky. But it retains the spirit of Star Trek and the heyday of the DC Star Trek comics (the best ever done for the franchise, I think) from the 1980s and 1990s enough to make me think there’s still a future for TNG outside some horrid J.J. Abrams-style reboot.

Christmas Comics: Star Trek: The Next Generation #2 (March 1988)

“Spirit in the Sky!”
Writer: Mike Carlin
Pencils: Pablo Marcos
Inks: Carlos Garzon and Arne Starr
Letters: Bob Pinaha
Colors: Carl Gafford
Editor: Robert Greenberger

I can’t recall many other Star Trek stories that dealt with Christmas — there was a Picard Christmas dream sequence in Generations — probably because the series’ humanistic point of view just doesn’t mesh well with the rituals and religious underpinning of the holiday. (Of course, Patrick Stewart’s one-man stage version of A Christmas Carol from the 1990s was extremely popular.)

This is still a really hard story to swallow and to judge because of the circumstances. This was the second issue of the first Star Trek: The Next Generation series DC published. It was released to coincide with the debut of the TV series itself in the fall of 1987. While DC’s classic Star Trek comic and the movie series were quite popular, no one knew if TNG was going to be a hit or a massive flop. So DC hedged its bet with a six-issue miniseries. And given the time frame of comic book production back then, the first few issues of the comic had to be completely written, drawn and ready to go to press long before the first episodes of the TV show were finished or aired. So all the comic creators had to go on were things like the series bible, early scripts, photo reference and the overall guidance of the Paramount licensing office.

So it kind of makes sense to do a Christmas story in this second issue, as Christmas stories can get away with a lot and it would buy DC another issue to try to figure out the new series.
Still, this is an odd one: On Christmas Eve, the Enterprise encounters a strange energy form, followed immediately by an encounter with an alien Creeg ship. The Enterprise crew, celebrating the many holidays of its diverse crew, welcome the Creeg and their leader, Captain Bronder, to the ship for the celebrations. But it turns out the Creeg are after this alien energy, which is hiding on the ship. A snoopy Wesley Crusher — in Kitty Pryde mode — stumbles upon a Creeg searching the ship for the energy and tells on him to the captain. This leads to some tense moments as they track through the ship this odd form of energy that brings a sense of happiness and good feelings to everyone it contacts. Eventually, it’s tracked to the bridge, where scanners show it resembling a jolly old man in a hat and coat. When even the skeptical Picard begins to believe in the energy form, it grows healthier and bestows good holiday feelings on the entire group before moving on into space.

There’s some really weird stuff going on in this issue. Pablo Marcos’ artwork is very stylized and he has a flair for futuristic fashions and architecture that counters a decided stiffness in the poses of the characters and staging of the scenes. The only problem with the former is that nothing besides the bridge really looks like the interiors of the Enterprise from the show. The fashions are the funkiest and perhaps coolest art addition, and surely would have caused a sensation had the show’s actresses ever worn such clothes. And none of that comes close to the image of Data wearing a tie and a vest — with no shirt. There are other relics from the original conception of the TV show, such Wesley Crusher being especially whiny and an overly diverse crew represented here by the super-annoying Bickley characters and a helmsman named Skooch.

Despite all the weirdness inside, I think I like the cover the best, with the snow and Christmas Tree on the bridge as a muscular Captain Picard faces off with Bronder. I think I had this comic — which I bought as a back issue about a year after it came out — for a few days before I even noticed those elements because it was so stylized and strangely colored.

In all, this issue is a major mess that I’m sure Paramount would like to forget ever saw print. But it’s also kind of cool to have this very strange take on TNG from the days before its identity was truly pegged down as one way the series and franchise could have gone.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén