Such is this meeting of the crew of the Starship Enterprise (in this case, the current film version) with Hal Jordan and other characters from the Green Lantern mythos. This isn’t the first time the voyages of the Enterprise have brought it into contact with new, super-powered life – several different Enterprises encountered the X-Men in the 1990s – but if you have to pick a popular superhero to meet Kirk and crew, Green Lantern makes maybe the most sense. In a way, the function of the Green Lantern Corps is fairly similar to that of Starfleet: peacekeeping, security, and diplomacy. Holding the galaxy together.
Mike Johnson (who has been writing IDW’s Star Trek ongoing since its inception) and Angel Hernandez (whose previous credits include several projects for DC) bring this meeting to life, and for the most part they do a good job with it. As power rings fall into the hands of Star Trek’s roster of both friends and foes and experienced Lanterns clash with inexperienced ones, many of the scenes and set pieces feel like they have bits that are unique to each universe, producing a whole that could not have existed without both. Hernandez, in particular, really sells the scenes of Federation starships dueling with Klingon battlecruisers while Lanterns skirmish in the space between. The fallout of these worlds colliding pulls no punches.
The entire event feels cataclysmic, but its narrative reach exceeds its grasp, resulting in a plot that feels like one compelling idea abandoned partway through for another. It begins, more or less, as a Star Trek story and ends as a Green Lantern story, with less overlap than I might’ve liked, and often the sort of character moments that make these kind of crossovers really worthwhile feel omitted in favor of more flash and bang. Dr. McCoy, who finds himself chosen by an indigo ring, feels woefully unexplored in this scenario. Still, though, what’s there works for what this book is: an indulgent what-if that answers questions that no doubt some geeks somewhere have asked, like “What color ring would Spock use?” and “Is fear stronger than phaser fire?” You know, important questions.
And really, that’s the point, isn’t it? IDW’s not publishing The Spectrum War on the assumption that this crossover will set the world on fire. Crossovers like this are total popcorn, and this one is not going to surprise those who have no interest in it to begin with. But there is a certain kind of reader – my kind of reader, incidentally – who will hear the pitch for The Spectrum War and think, “Hey, I bet this will be fun, at least.” And, for us, while The Spectrum War disappoints too often, it is fun, at least.