One of the many things that the original Star Trek gave to television was the term “bottle episode,” after the idea of a ship in a bottle to describe those episodes that took place entirely on the Enterprise. These episodes were often cost-cutting measures; the sets were already built, they often involved few, if any, guest cast, and so they could be produced cheaply and quickly relative to episodes that required elaborate sets, location shooting, or several guest stars. Though comics do not normally have to worry about such things, one could argue that is part of the peculiar charm of John Byrne’s New Visions, since he has to rely on the photo materials he has to work with.
Spock receives a coded message which prompts him to ask for a brief leave from his duties on the Enterprise – all to reunite with a past acquaintance and, of course, get drawn into a mystery he did not expect. If, in a lot of ways, this plot hook sounds very much like a few previous New Visions stories, you’re not wrong. Byrne has come to rely on the premise of a guest character from an episode resurfacing with a new, cryptic problem for the Enterprise crew to solve.
We all have those comics that people keep recommending to us, but that we never quite get around to. They sit perpetually on some to-read-someday list in our heads or, if you’re a bit more organized than I am, maybe on some actual, real list with words and everything. Occasionally, we even get around to crossing something off that list, if we’re lucky.
I’m beginning to think that the Enterprise can’t take shore leave without something going wrong. In John Byrne’s latest photoplay, “The Survival Equation,” a harmless stopover at Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet brings Captain Kirk into contact with Andrea, a woman he’s sure he’s met – and under worse circumstances. But, Andrea has no recollection of the event. Concerned that her presence could hint at a threat to the whole of the Federation, Kirk becomes intent on solving this mystery.
Star Trek is no stranger to crossovers with other universes –at least in the comics – and few have made as much sense at first blush as crossing over with DC’s Green Lantern. Both are cosmic, space-faring stories, both featuring protagonists who keep law and order throughout the galaxy. That the Star Trek at play here is the 2009 reboot film universe only makes the combination work better, given that it has a more swashbuckling, action-oriented nature.
Galaxy Quest, the 1999 sci-fi romp about the cast of a Star Trek-like show that gets recruited to save a group of real aliens who believe the show is real, is one of my favorite genre spoofs. Galaxy Quest: The Journey Continues, the new trade paperback collection of the four-issue miniseries from IDW, may have always been doomed to fall short of my expectations. The story is readable and inoffensive, but it doesn’t provide many truly exciting or funny moments.
A lot has happened to the crew of the Lost Light lately. The last ten issues or so have been a relentless, if humorous and often exciting, barrage of time travel, in-jokes, and continuity. This issue offers a welcome breather, even if it probably is something of a calm before a storm, to allow the expansive cast an opportunity to deal not only with the fallout of recent events, but with some personal soul-searching, as well.
After a decade in development with various networks, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s Powers is finally a TV series, with the first three episodes having hit PlayStation Network for PlayStation Plus subscribers on March 10th. The show is the first shot Sony’s taken at original, scripted content exclusive for its network and, in theory, is meant to attract new subscribers to PlayStation Plus. But, Powers feels under-produced, sinking often past gritty into campy, and fails to deliver on the promise of its premise.
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.
Perhaps the thing I like best about John Byrne’s New Visions is that they are full-fledged stories on the scale of a classic Star Trek episode in each issue. The premise, though, brings with it its own challenges, and because of that length, I suppose Byrne is somewhat limited in the characters and scenery he can use, according to what he can get sufficient images of. With New Visions #4 comes the second instance in the series of a Kirk doppelganger, for instance, because no doubt there is little shortage of Shatner out there.