Where No One Has Gone Before: The Star Trek Graphic Novels

In 2009, to the delight of millions of fans, J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek franchise with a new Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Uhura in a brand new movie. As wonderful as Star Trek: The Movie and its sequel — Star Trek: Into Darkness — is, it isn’t like having an entire series of adventurous episodes with the new Enterprise . . . until now.

These graphic novels, published by IDW Publishing and under the guidance of Star Trek writer/producer Roberto Orci, brings you the stories of the Enterprise crew that don’t make it to the movies. You’ll find new takes on old favorite episodes, brand new stories and character back-stories that didn’t make it to the movies.

Let’s take a look:

Interested in one or more of these books? Click the mouse on the book cover or title to read more about it and order it from your local CLEVNET library.

Book cover for Star Trek: Spock Reflections Star Trek: Spock Reflections

Framed around the burial of a dear friend, this story told in vignettes, traces the development of the half human, half Vulcan Mr. Spock (from the original universe) as his life leads him beyond Starfleet to the Romulan Empire.

This story explains how he got there and eventually went from underground teacher of Vulcan philosophy — promoting reunification between the Vulcan and Romulan peoples — to naturalized Romulan citizen. Some of this was covered in the television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Book cover for Star Trek: CountdownStar Trek: Countdown

In the movie, both Nero and the older Mr. Spock briefly recount the story that led them from their original Star Trek universe — where Romulus was destroyed — to the new (“rebooted”) universe, and how a blood vendetta was born between them.

This story takes hints that were dropped in the movie and expands it into a richer story. Once, Nero had a great deal of respect for Mr. Spock and a lot of love for his wife, his baby, and his homeworld. Together, Nero and Spock try to obtain the “red matter” material that would have stopped the rampaging supernova threatening Romulus, but the Vulcan Science Council refuses to believe that the Romulan homeworld is in danger . . .

Book cover for Star Trek: NeroStar Trek: Nero

In the movie, Nero arrived in the new universe on stardate 2233 and destroyed the USS Kelvin. Then he resurfaced in 2253. First he attacked the Klingons and then the Federation. What happened in the years between 2233 and 2253?

This graphic novel tells that story. Using official back-story — some of which made it to the movie and some of which was cut — you’ll find out how the Kingons captured Nero and his ship, the Narada, imprisoned them on Rura Penthe — and how they ultimately escaped.

Book cover for Star Trek: The Official Motion_Picture_AdaptationStar Trek: The Official Motion Picture Adaptation

Now you may ask, “If I’ve seen the movie, why should I read the comic book?” Truth is, you don’t need to read this book but it is a bit of fun. For instance, there are a couple of minor short scenes that were cut shortly before the movie’s release. Those scenes made it into the comic book. The one that comes to mind explains why young Jim Kirk was driving his uncle’s car (it was really his father’s) off the cliff (he was angry at his uncle who drove Jim’s big brother away).

I also enjoyed reliving some of the funny moments of the movie — Kirk’s barroom brawl, the Kobayashi Maru incident, and Kirk’s reaction to McCoy’s injection (a ruse to get him on the Enterprise). It was an enjoyable read.

Book cover for Star Trek vol. 1Star Trek Vol. 1

“Where No Man Has Gone Before”

After the events of the first movie, the Enterprise intercepts a distress beacon from the SS Valiant which disappeared two hundred years ago. Kirk notes the Valiant’s warning but continues the mission to cross the galaxy edge anyway.

Like the original episode the ship is attacked by an electrical-like storm that imbues Gary Mitchell with psychic powers. In this version, the slightly psychic psychologist Dr. Denher requested reassignment to another ship so she wasn’t aboard the Enterprise when it crossed the galaxy edge. Thus she never developed powers similar to Gary’s and wasn’t there to back Kirk up as Mitchell slips further and further into delusions of godhood.

This time, Kirk and Spock must handle the crisis alone. . .

“The Galileo Seven”

This story is very similar to the original episode with seven Enterprise crew members including Spock, McCoy and Scotty taking the shuttlecraft out to study Murasaki 312’s quasar-like formation. The shuttle crash lands on a barren looking planet, cut off from the Enterprise with the quasar blinding the starship.

As the Enterprise races against time to find the shuttle, Spock tries to keep the crew alive against hostile life forms, not violate the Prime Directive and somehow get the ship rescued. There is not as much hostility between McCoy and Spock in this retelling and Lt. Uhura plays a much more important role . . .

Book cover for Star Trek Vol. 2Star Trek Vol. 2

“Operation Annihilate”

This story follows, very loosely, the parameters of the 1st season episode Operation Annihilate! One difference is that we meet Kirk’s older brother who is named George Kirk (not Sam).

The story opens in the past, shortly after young James Kirk has run his father’s (now his uncle’s) vintage car off the cliff. He is consoled by his mother who understands living with her brother is difficult especially now that George went to stay with their grandfather.

In the story, Kirk’s landing crew finds George, who is avoiding the alien lifeforms by hiding out in the sewers below the city. But George worries for his wife and son, Peter.

Also different is the scene between a blind Spock and Uhura who are having a non-argument about his recklessness since the loss of his homeworld.

“Vulcan’s Vengeance”

This is a new story that picks up months after the first movie. It details a plot by a few survivors of Nero’s crew to gather the last remnant of red matter and the designs for the Narada to turn over to the Romulan Empire.

Kirk fails to stop Nero’s crew from stealing the red matter that a secret Vulcan science vessel had gathered. Thus the Enterprise is forced to pursue them into the Neutral Zone which puts the ever fragile treaty between the Romulans and the Federation at risk.

Even so, after being captured by the Romulans, when Kirk does catch up to Nero’s crew, he’s met with a greater surprise . . . leading to still graver complications.

Book cover for Star Trek Vol. 3Star Trek Vol. 3

“The Return of the Archons”

In the broadest strokes, this story is similar to the original first season episode of the same name. But there are important differences. The smallest difference is that the community of Beta III is more like medieval Earth, not 19th Century Earth.

The largest difference is the way it ties into a subplot that was hinted at slightly in the first movie, Star Trek, and expanded in Star Trek: Into Darkness.

I loved the image of the salvaged saucer section of the starship USS Archon buried deep in the chamber of Landru.

“The Truth about Tribbles”

This story is almost nothing like the original story The Trouble with Tribbles by David Gerrold. But, if you can let that go, it is an interesting story. It sets up why Dr. McCoy had a tribble in sickbay at the end of Star Trek: Into Darkness and explores the ecology that would produce such a creature.

It hints at the Klingon animosity towards tribbles (they attempt to blow up the tribble homeworld) and explores the rather reckless nature of the rebooted universe’s Montgomery Scott.

It simply wasn’t as funny as the original source material, although it tried. It was one of the funniest stories by comic scribe Mike Johnson.

Book cover for Star Trek Vol. 4Star Trek Vol. 4

“Hendorff”

In case you didn’t know, Hendorff is the Starfleet cadet that started a fight with young Jim Kirk at the beginning of the first Star Trek movie. He has gone on to become a member of the crew of the USS Enterprise — specifically a “red shirt”

The joke is that in any Star Trek Original series episode, the people who die are the ones wearing red shirts. This story explores the enigma of the red shirt — the operations staff (security, engineering and computer techs) — and how it feels to be one.

It also explores how Hendorff could serve under an upstart like James T. Kirk.

“Keenser’s Story”

This story explores the origins of Mr. Keenser, Scotty’s trusted, taciturn sidekick.

An outcast on his own homeworld because of his huge size, Mr. Keenser proves his engineering worth to the first contact crew from the USS Kelvin which includes George Kirk Sr., Jim Kirk’s father. and gets a trip to Starfleet Academy.

What happens to him there and how he met Mr. Scott at a largely abandoned research station on Delta Vega comprises the most interesting part of this story.

“Mirror, Mirror”

This story is very different from the original episode. Here, Scott and McCoy are enjoy a drink in the mess hall and start talking about alternate universes. Mr. Scott was tries to explain where the older Mr. Spock (from the original Star Trek universe) came from.

To illustrate his point to a baffled doctor, he tells the story of an alternate universe that is a dark reflection of their own. Captain Spock has just smashed the Klingon homeworld, winning the war for the Terran Empire while Lt. Commander Kirk seeks a personal revenge on his father’s killer, Nero, and commandeers the massive futuristic Romulan ship, the Narada, for his own coup against the Terran Empire.

Book cover for Star Trek Vol. 5Star Trek Vol. 5

“Bones”

The back story for Dr. Leonard McCoy — how he became a doctor, lost a marriage, lost the divorce, joined Starfleet and eventually found his place on board the Enterprise.

“The Voice of a Falling Star”

This is Lt. Uhura’s story. It starts with how she initiated a relationship with Mr. Spock and then it jumps to months later when he suggests they take the next step in the relationship — a mind-meld which shares a painful memory — the story of how young Uhura learned to listen.

“Scotty”

This story explores how Scotty, descendant from a long line of engineers, became a Starfleet engineer and, most interesting, how he got himself exiled to an out-of-the-way research station on Delta Vega.

“Red Level Down”

This is the story of Sulu and Chekov in Starfleet Academy. James Kirk befriends the brainy and outcast Checkov. He asks for help on a computer program and in return offers some advice. Meanwhile, Sulu must decide if pulling an initiation stunt to get into the elite “red guard” is worth the potential danger to him and the crowd of people below.

Book cover for Star Trek: Coundown to DarknessStar Trek: Countdown to Darkness

While scanning the planet Phaedus, the Enterprise encounters a high energy field coming from the planet’s surface, a supposed impossibility given the pre-industrial nature of the planet’s population. Kirk and Spock lead a shuttlecraft crew down to explore the source of the energy only to be brought down by phaser fire. Once on the ground, Kirk and Spock find themselves surrounded by aliens holding phasers and old style medical tricorders. Leading the insect-like creatures is Captain Robert April, former Captain of the starship Enterprise.

This story sets up the nature of the cold war between the Federation and the Klingons — and the secret machinations within Starfleet itself which come into play in Star Trek: Into Darkness.

It also introduces Robert April, who was the captain of the Enterprise in Gene Roddenberry’s original pilot script. He was replaced by Captain Christopher Pike (that script was shot and he was played by Jeffrey Hunter) who was replaced by Captain James Tiberius Kirk (originally played by William Shatner). Robert April never appeared in the original series (although Capt. Pike did) but he and his wife did appear in a story in Star Trek: The Animated Series called “The Counter-Clock Incident“. For more information check out this wikipedia article.

Mudd is the name of a smuggler Robert April uses to supply the people he has adopted. She appears to be at least part Bajorian and April mentions that she has a disreputable father — perhaps Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd who appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek series — “Mudd’s Women” and “I, Mudd“? Her ship appears in the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Star Trek: KhanStar Trek: Khan

This special miniseries tells the history of Khan Noonien Singh, from his creation to the Eugenics War to his being frozen in the Botany Bay. This is the back story to the character featured in the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness. It also gives us more of a look into the secret workings of the renegade Section 31.

Mainly, this story seems to explain why Benedict Cumberbatch, a popular British actor, played Khan and not an actor of Southeast Asian descent — or even of Mexican-Spanish decent like Ricardo Montalbán. Oh well.

Star Trek: Volume 6, After DarknessStar Trek, Volume 6: After Darkness

“After Darkness”

This story takes its cue from an original series episode entitled “Amok Time.” This story explores what happens when Mr. Spock falls into Pon Farr and there is no planet Vulcan to return to. Kirk and the Enterprise travel to New Vulcan to help Spock, but the Pon Farr gets worse, driving him into madness.

Why aren’t the usual rituals working? And what has happened to the other Vulcans who’ve become renegades?

“Gorn”

This short, untitled story, brings back an old enemy which Kirk and the Enterprise crew battle in the Star Trek video game. The Gorn were though to be gone, back to their original sector. However, a mining crew are attacked by the Gorn and some are killed. Can Kirk find where they’re hidden and bring them to justice?

Last Word:
As more titles in the series are published, I’ll read them and talk about them here. After all, I want my Star Trek reboot fix too. In the meantime, feel free to leave comments and we can talk about what we’ve read.

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