Star Trek: New Visions #5 continues writer and artist John Byrne’s photomontage series with one of its stronger stories thus far. The lead story, “A Scent of Ghosts,” plays not only in the traditional Original Series sandbox but reaches back to include the Enterprise’s earlier crew under Captain Pike, and thus images and elements from the show’s original pilot. Pike’s former first officer – an unnamed character called merely “Number One” and played by Majel Barrett – comes aboard the Enterprise to be escorted to her new command, the Yorktown. What should be a routine mission becomes anything but when the Yorktown appears with her crew missing.
The story’s hook is the interplay between the present-day story and scenes from the Enterprise’s encounter with an alien spacecraft under Captain Christopher Pike’s command. Seeing Byrne work with this more limited source is entertaining in its way, though that limitation may explain why these segments are brief and establish Scotty as having been aboard the ship at the time, too. The connection between these encounters is not readily apparent, and the present-day story maintains its drama for a little while, though one could quibble about Byrne’s pacing. Still, this is the kind of story this series does best, one that is almost easy to imagine as an actual episode of the show.
New Visions #5 also includes a backup story of Spock on Vulcan, dedicated to the memory of Arlene Martel, the actress who played Spock’s betrothed, T’Pring, in the episode “Amok Time.” The story is brief enough that going into any detail would spoil it, but I couldn’t help but find it doubly melancholy given Leonard Nimoy’s passing late last week. Byrne’s grasp of the original crew is strong enough that I can easily hear Spock’s dialogue in Nimoy’s voice.
Perhaps what New Visions does for me most is remind me how fond I am of The Original Series, for all its faults. The limitations Byrne faces finding settings and characters to use in the photomontage forces him to make compromises not unlike those the series’ creators did to stay under budget, and that, in its own way, is an odd strength of New Visions. It’s fun to see how Byrne manipulates old visuals to tell new stories.