Star Trek The Manga

“We keep the men around because they’re the cutest little things.”

Star Trek: The Manga – Kakan ni Shinkou

(Google translates that as “The progression between the day”. Now I need someone to translate THAT in connection to the graphic novel.)

Tokyopop (September, 2007)

COVER ART: Bettina Kurkoski
COVER DESIGN: Christian Lownds
PRODUCTION ARTISTS: Michael Paolilli & Courtney Geter
LETTERERS: Fawn Lau & Michael Paolilli
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Lillian Diaz-Przybyl
EDITOR: Luis Reyes

The first thing that should be noted is this isn’t really a “manga”, just a comic done in a Japanese style. I mean, our first story is written by Wil Weaton, and he isn’t Japanese. This is the second book doing the classic series in a Japanese comic style, with five stories in this volume. Let’s see how well Star Trek translated to this style.

Cura Te Ipsum

(WRITER: Wil Weaton; ARTIST: EJ Su; TONES: Chow Hon Lam)

Tones. That’s something I need to learn I bet.

When the Enterprise is damaged attempting a new way to shape dilithium crystals (I think that’s what they were doing), the ship limps to a nearby planet to find replacement crystals to effect repairs. They end up caught up in a civil war with the natives over a plant that can cure a plague that has affected both tribes. Spock is infected and Kirk must help his friend and try to stay out of the war. This is a good story in the show style, with a reasonable reason for the war and yet acknowledging that war isn’t always the solution when our heroes find the cure. There’s also a Prime Directive argument about being able to stop the war by synthesising the cure, until the natural stuff pops up. My only complaint besides the blatant way the redshirt should have had a “dead young recruit” sign with the way it was telegraphed is the unnecessarily brought up bit about being too close to the Romulan Neutral Zone. It never comes up and it wouldn’t have been missed. You may hate Wesley Crusher but his portrayer did write a good story here.

The Trial

(WRITER: Mike Wellman; ARTISTS: Nam Kim, Matt Dalton, A.J. Ford, Ben Harvey, & Sang S. Kim)

The planet of Kos shut itself away from the rest of the universe, but feels free to judge anyone who happens to pass by. They did that with a Klingon, who is still defending his ways after years of being on trial. Now Captain Kirk has joined that roster, as Spock and McCoy try to wade through the bureaucracy to free him before it’s declared an act of war, since they did teleport him off of the bridge. It’s a short, interesting study of Kirk’s failings, but the ending doesn’t satisfy as I would have hoped. The jury’s sentencing feels a bit forced, as does the fact that no specific charge was levied. They just hate Kirk’s lifestyle and mistakes, but how did they hear about the time-travel missions? You’d think those two events would be off the record, especially to a planet that shut themselves off from the Federation. It’s a good idea that needed some more work. Plus sometimes the art ends up exaggerated. I’ve seen actual manga and anime do that and I didn’t like it there either.

Communications Breakdown

(WRITER: Christine Boylan; ARTIST: Bettina Kurkoski)

Just after their encounter with NOMAD, the crew prepares to leave the system with minor repairs, while Uhura is back in action. They received a distress call and Starfleet asks them to check into it, but Uhura hears something odd in the message and worries it might be a trap. After what she’s been through Kirk and Spock think she just went back on duty too soon, but McCoy and Chapel side with her, and McCoy helps Uhura to prove herself right. It’s a really good story that give Lt. Uhura a chance to shine. I like it.

Scaean Gate

(WRITER: Diane Duane; ARTISTS: Don Hudson & Steve Buccellato)

Before you really start reading the book you see that the art style is different. It could be mistaken for doing something more Western since the eyes are normal sized among other things, but you’d be wrong. Japanese artists employ different kinds of styles, something Western comics are still trying to do again. It’s another story of bringing a dignitary from one world to rule another, but this time there is no marriage involved and it’s McCoy, not Kirk, who makes a pleasing reaction to the future queen of two worlds. However, not everybody is happy about this union and there are trust issues involved that will bring trouble to the crew and McCoy’s new friendship. I really enjoyed this story. There’s mystery and not so much romance (as beautiful as the queen is–who by the way is a lot nicer than the usual royal-type in this franchise–and it’s possible with more time there would have been so kudos for not shoving a quickie romance in there) as friendship that could have been more, with a good mystery, complete with red herring. It may be my favorite.

Forged Alliances

(WRITER: Paul Benjamin; ARTIST: Steven Cummings)

Kirk and McCoy are allowed to observe a ceremony honoring Surak, the Vulcan who led his people to the reserved emotional enlightenment that saved the race. However, they are attacked by a feral boy who disappeared during his final test, and now other Vulcans are losing control of their emotions, including Spock. It’s up to McCoy to get the emotional Spock’s help to find the source before all of Vulcan returns to their violent past. This was another good story. We get some hints that the old xenophobias still exist on Vulcan’s side (if we’re forced at phaserpoint to take Enterprise the TV show as canon) as well as how Spock really feels about McCoy’s occasional jabs at Spock. It’s a good piece.

Suicide Note

(WRITER: Geoff Townbridge)

This isn’t a comic, but a sample from a Next Generation prose anthology from Pocket Books, The Sky’s The Limit. Picard delivers a recorded message to the wife and daughter of a Romulan he met before, around the time that the Federation and the Romulans were considering an alliance against the Dominion. It’s an interesting look into Romulan society. I enjoyed it. I wonder what the other stories in the book were like?

The book ends with some comic strips by David Reddick. “Red Shirts” is about two red shirts on the Enterprise while “The Trek Life” follows three Trekkies discussing their favorite show. (Guess which one it is.) Cute little strips.

This is the second of three manga-style collections of original Star Trek adventures (another was made for The Next Generation), with an omnibus collecting them all. I hope the others are as enjoyable as this one, which I can attest is worth picking up. Amazon has it for cheap and using that link helps support the Spotlight, but I wouldn’t link to it if I didn’t think you should read it. I have a reputation to maintain, after all, in not promoting bad works.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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