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Star Trek – Countdown To Darkness, by Roberto Orci

review published on July 22, 2013. Reviewed by Ian Simpson

Nudge Reviewer Rating:

Star Trek Into Darkness was a great, if flawed film, which could be enjoyed by fans and non-fans of Star Trek alike. It was action packed, witty, character-driven and emotionally satisfying. It took place during tricky times for the Federation, as a terrorist attack is carried out in London. But how did we get there? What happened between this and 2009’s Star Trek?

Star Trek Countdown To Darkness is the prequel, in graphic novel form. Star Trek writer/producer Roberto Orci has provided this original story, turned into a comic book script with Mike Johnson (DC’s Superman/Batman, Supergirl). It is drawn by David Messina (Angel, The Bounce). The new crew star in a new adventure setting the scene for the movie.

It begins with Spock still suffering the grief resulting from the death of his mother and the destruction of his homeworld, Vulcan, and how it impacts on his relationship with Uhura. Kirk is yet to assert his authority on the bridge of the Enterprise. Their mission is a visit of planet Phaedus. They are to do a ‘scan and run’. Phaedus is home to a primitive people, not ready to be exposed to the aliens on the ship. This is the Star Trek universe’s Prime Directive – non-interference in an emerging race. However, during the scan, the ship is hit by a weapon far beyond the capabilities of the inhabitants. Kirk, Spock and Sulu beam down to the surface to investigate. They discover that they aren’t the first visitors to the planet, and what they find has a direct impact on the future of the Federation.

There were a lot of half-answered questions in the film, which I won’t spoil. However, there is a lot in this book that goes someway to explain those issues. There are references and hints in the film that begin here. There is conflict between characters that begins here. There are themes of friendship than begin here. It’s all about choices and relationships, which is key to any story in the Star Trek universe. As a fan of the many variations of the franchise, I was pleased to see some of the ideas subverted (Mudd, as an example) while keeping some key themes. Orci and Johnson have written an engaging and complete story that works both on its own and in the context of the films. It has the emotion you’d hope for and a satisfying conclusion. It is a proper story. However, I wouldn’t expect it would appeal to anyone not interested in films or the wider universe.

Messina’s art is gorgeous. He has drawn the characters to look almost like the actors portraying the characters, although he appears to have given Chris Pine’s Kirk slightly more of Shatner’s look than you’d might expect. It is very cinematic in appearance, with lots of wide-screen panels and some full page drawings. It also contains a few stills from the film. The colours by Claudia Scarletgothica (Angel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle) are well suited to JJ Abrahms’ film direction, with some lovely tones. Amusingly, the Italians have even included Abrahms’ trademark lens flares. Which I like. It is another step in bringing the comic book prequel and the film together.
Any fan of the new Star Trek movies should read this. I’d suggest any comic book fan should give it a go too. It is good storytelling and lovely art, and a complete story.

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