This new comic series takes a page from the original PhotoNovels, but instead of re-telling classic original series stories, it offers up new adventures from the original five year mission. Using screen captures from the original episodes (and even The Motion Picture in a short story that’s included here) and the magic of PhotoShop, writer Johnny Bryne and his team have created a series of new stories. The first three issues were collected in volume I and Volume II is set to hit shelves later this year.
These were fun, at first. I read the first couple of issues and found myself enjoying them a great deal. It was a fun novelty idea and it made me nostalgic for my early days in Trek fandom when I eagerly checked the PhotoNovels out of my local library.
But with this collection, I find that the bloom is off the rose a bit. Part of that comes down to the stories which I felt were more miss than hit this time around. The first installment with Harry Mudd felt like it was trying too hard — up to and including Captain Tracy returning to the storyline after the events of “The Omega Glory.” The basic plot is that Tracy and Mudd stumble across a device that allows a person to become a virtual clone of another person. Tracy forces Mudd to use it to make himself become a duplicate of Kirk (because we’ve never seen that before!). The Enterprise finds Mudd and begins to unravel what happened. The seams of the story start to show through early and there is some jarringly PhotoShopped images late in the story with a Harry Mudd mustache slapped onto Captain KIrk .
The next installment involves an alien ship from Spock’s past and includes flashbacks to his time on the Enterprise before the current five year mission. The linking piece (besides Spock) is Number One, who comes back to the Enterprise as part of the mission. Of the three, this is the weakest of the stories and the one where I felt my patience was running thinnest. Part of it could be the limited number of stills that creative team has to pull from for PIke and his crew. But a larger part of it was that there were some obviously PhotoShop created backgrounds for the alien ship during the PIke era that looked out of place in the story.
The final story is set right after the Doomsday Machine and answers the question of who would create such a thing. Putting aside that Peter David did a far better job of tying this thread to the Borg in his novel Vendetta two decades ago, this story suffered from the art work. Not the screen captures of the crew, though if you look closely you can see that they have sampled season one Kirk and season two Kirk within a few panels of each other. No, again it’s the added artwork — in this case a science vessel and then the alien we meet whose people created the Doomsday Machine. The difference between screen captures and the created artwork is just a bit too obvious and took me out of the story too much.
The most satisfying story in the collection is a short one that looks at Spock on Vulcan before the events of TMP. This short story finds Spock having to let go of T’Pring and his past, paying homage to the recently deceased Adrian Martel. At six pages, this is the most effective of the stories and the best realized from an artistic standpoint.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.