In this case that crew member is, of course, Captain Kirk himself, who is in Engineering in the midst of an attack from an unidentified vessel when he is hit with a powerful energy discharge. This seems to set him wandering through time during the Enterprise’s most desperate hour, one moment finding himself embroiled in the death throes of his ship, another discovering that it’s apparently hours or even weeks before the fact. As Kirk tries to unravel just how he can save himself and, more importantly, his ship and crew, we’re treated to what feels like the sort of story that could have come out of the original series itself, if only there’d been a little more budget for explosions here and there.
If I took away one criticism from this story, it was that the editing seemed pretty slapdash – the name of the planet the Enterprise was investigating changed several times in dialogue, for instance, between DT-262 and TD-262, a typo that in a normal story could be easily missed, but in a story about time travel where continuity can change from page to page, sometimes such errors are intentional. I don’t think that was the case here. If I took away another criticism, it’s that, as with other times that New Visions has ventured into portraying alien species never before seen, they don’t look particularly good, especially next to the live-action characters with whom they share panels. Being more conservative about the alien-ness of new aliens may just be a limitation New Visions has to accept; it’s not like aliens who look essentially human are unheard of in Star Trek, especially in the original series.
This issue also has two short stories to round it out. The first, “Home,” is a follow-up to a story in an earlier issue, continuing to fill in some of the blanks surrounding Janice Rand. The character – known even to non-Trekkies for her beehive hairdo – only appeared during the show’s first season. (Different sources have stated different reasons for this, some of them more palatable than others.) The late Grace Lee Whitney would eventually reprise the role in some of the films and a Voyager episode, but the show never addressed why Rand left the Enterprise or what happened to her in the intervening years. “Home” briefly re-introduces her to the Enterprise, now as a full-fledged science officer, perhaps so that she can appear in future stories. If so, she’s a welcome return, especially in giving the ship another competent female character future stories can utilize.
The second brief story – it is only a single page – introduces another new face to the ship who some fans will appreciate. It’s unclear if this cameo is intended as an Easter egg or to make the character available for future stories in New Visions, and frankly I’m not sure which prospect I prefer.
As a whole, New Visions #16 is a great entry in the ongoing series, and an adventure that feels both new and familiar. In that regard, I think New Visions has found its stride. Existing readers will find what they’ve come to expect from Byrne, while newcomers can get a good feel for everything New Visions is doing – good (a lot), bad (relatively little), and, in the case of the CGI aliens, ugly.