IDW’s latest Star Trek comics compilation sees the unusual pairing of the 1984 DC Comics Star Trek series’ first arc and the 2007 miniseries Blood Will Tell under the backdrop of the best Klingon comic stories. This isn’t wholly accurate, but what both storylines do have in common is they provide an alternate point of view on the events of several Original Series episodes; a Klingon point of view, that is.
Star Trek #1-#4 (1984)
Klingon fans looking for a solid story about their favorite culture are in for disappointment. This first arc does deal with the Empire, but it’s not the same Klingon Empire fans are familiar with from TNG and DS9, because this arc takes place before any of those things existed, before even the definitive Klingon appearance in Search for Spock.
What we have instead is a fascinating look at an older era of Trek. Taking place just after the events of Wrath of Khan, we have a Captain (after asking for and getting a demotion) Kirk struggling to deal with the death of Spock while his new science officer, Lieutenant Saavik, receives the brunt of his undealt with emotions. Meanwhile, the Klingon Empire and the Federation finally find reason to go to war, tying together about five different Original Series episodes to tell one tale about the nature of war, what drives us to it, and what is considered honorable (both for Klingons and humanity).
This arc is worth reading just for the art. If you can get past the ’80s pastels (Going to warp looks like riding a rainbow!), the design work for the Klingons is an interesting lesson in Trek history, as Klingons are at that point where they’ve transcended their TOS roots, but the extrapolation from Star Trek: The Motion Picture is kind of hilarious. It’s far more entertaining to see what elements later stuck around and what was an artistic interpretation only found in a couple of places like these comics. What is perhaps most interesting was the first suggestion of a Klingon who doesn’t care for fighting, which is an early reflection of some later stories future Trek series would tell.
But, it’s also worth adding that some things are kind of ridiculous in this arc. For an example there is an Ensign named Bearclaw aboard the Enterprise, everyone insists on calling Saavik “Mr.” as a continued misstep from Wrath of Khan, etc. In addition, they try to tie too much together from TOS. Someone who wasn’t familiar with all of Trek at that point would be hopelessly lost with the plot, which when examining is a rehash of a couple of TOS episodes when removing the Kirk/Saavik storyline. While a worthwhile look into Star Trek‘s past, this is not the best anything, much less Klingon story.
Blood Will Tell (2007)
“Blood Will Tell” is set right before the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as the Klingons seek a solution to their problems, which may even include accepting help from the Federation of all things. As Kahnrah, a member of the Klingon High Council, struggles with this debate, he relates the stories of several of his kinsmen and their encounters with humanity. From there the tales focus on the perspective of a different Klingon during the events of one of the TOS episodes such as “Errand of Mercy” and “The Trouble with Tribbles.” These different angles don’t add a lot to the stories, more provide a different flavor for the events. As a fan of the later Trek series, I was quite pleased with how they weaved together the idea of human-like Klingons from TOS and the ridged Klingons from the later series together, creating cultural divides beyond what Enterprise had time to show fans.
While most of these stories are par for the course, I have to recommend the Arne Darvin story and what that particular Klingon had to undergo in order to disguise himself as a human. I have way more respect for that character even if he was bested by Tribbles . . . twice. To its credit, “Blood Will Tell” manages to even explain away in a fashion why Darvin would give himself up so quickly after being found out.
While mostly a collection of tales, the central story of Kahnrah and his internal debate is powerful. What defines honor and is it more honorable to die than except help, so you can fight again another day? While there is a definitive answer as far as the films are concerned, “Blood Will Tell” shows a balance of both points of view and the spirits of the Klingons who support either side.
While not deserving of its “best of” subtitle, Best of Klingons is a great read for fans of TOS looking for an extra perspective on the events of the show and for a look at how Star Trek, and the Klingons in particular, have evolved over time.
Three and a Half Bowls of Gagh out of Five