IDW Publishing has produced a beautifully rendered set of four comic books, known as the Star Trek Countdown series. They are also available as a paperback with all four together making a complete graphic novel. I haven’t actually seen the graphic novel form up close and personal, but I do have all four of the comics. You can see some sample pages of the exceptional art over at Amazon, where you can find both the paperback and the comics available.
You can also catch a few glimpses of the brilliant art from Star Trek Countdown at the YouTube video, Star Trek Countdown comic trailer
While I’ll try to keep it to a minimum, be warned the review that follows does contain some spoiler type materials.
The story takes place in Next Generation times, almost a decade after the setting of the last movie in the series, Star Trek Nemesis. By this time, the upload of Data into B-4’s neural net has become fully realized; he is now accepted as Data, and promoted to the rank of Captain. Spock is the official Federation Ambassador resident on Romulus, and no longer living underground there. Picard is now also an ambassador, resident on Vulcan. There are some other role changes but you’ll just need to read the comics. I can’t tell you everything, and you don’t want me to anyway.
All in all, it’s a pretty good story, though I’d say some of the science is rather questionable. But then, when is there not questionable science in a Star Trek story? The art is first rate in this comic book series, and the plot line engaging. The likenesses of many of our favorite characters, such as Spock, Data, Picard, Geordi, and Worf are top notch. And the ship designs have what I’d call a very high coolness factor. I especially liked the ship they’ve dubbed the Jellyfish, which we will of course also see in the movie. I did see one visual error on page 22 of comic book number one. The delta shape of Data’s comm. badge is reversed. An odd error to be sure, which many would never notice, unless of course one is a diehard fan.
I did have another problem with what I’d call a glaring textual error that amounts to some major hyperbole. At the beginning of the story Ambassador Spock refers to a specific supernova that threatens life in the Romulan Empire. Then he suggests it will just keep growing and threaten the Federation, even life in the entire galaxy. But in comic book number two, when Spock is speaking to the Vulcan Science Council he says it threatens the entire Universe! Frankly, that is an exaggeration scientifically unforgivable, and a bit ironic that he says it when speaking to the “Science” Council. The galaxy maybe, but the entire Universe, please, or perhaps I should say it more like, “plea-ease!” That and the stuff about the totally fictional “red matter” made from decalithium, planned for the purpose of creating an artificial black hole to devour the supernova, would be my only major criticisms. (Like I said, questionable science! It’s definitely science fiction with a strong emphasis on fiction.) Otherwise, it was an enjoyable read, and a real pleasure to view the outstanding art. I’d say, just overlook those exaggerations, and enjoy a romping space opera adventure that will nicely prep you for the new movie. It leads right up to the movie quite well, and explains much of how and why the movie presents a few continuity issues, since we have a time travel situation that essentially changes both Federation and Romulan history. It would seem they’ll have to tell at least some of this story, in flashback form, in the movie if for no other purpose but to explain this whole time travel paradox bringing us to these historical alterations. I look forward to seeing how they deal with this back story, when I view the movie.
Image via Wikipedia
To be perfectly honest, this story actually would have made a better movie than was Star Trek Nemesis, especially if the writers could have found a way to include Riker, Troy, and Dr. Crusher in Star Trek Countdown. However, as a comic book series it works quite well, and I do highly recommend it, as a nice lead in to the movie. If you get a chance to read Star Trek Countdown before seeing J. J. Abrams Star Trek movie, it will likely enhance your viewing pleasure.
I give Star Trek Countdown a 9 out of a possible 10. That would have been a 10, if the exaggerated and questionable science hadn’t been so abysmal, and left me feeling acrimoniously incredulous.