Ever since the dawn of the JJ Abrams movie era, Star Trek in comic form has been in robust health under the stewardship of writer Mike Johnson, who following each successive movie has expanded the Kelvin timeline Trek series and deepened its world, often taking the opportunity to re-tell classic 1960’s The Original Series stories via a new, colourful lens. Boldly Go is the latest iteration of Johnson’s sketching in of the Abrams-championed Trek universe.
Following the events of 2016’s 50th anniversary movie Star Trek Beyond, Boldly Go continues the voyages of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew… just not on the USS Enterprise. Destroyed in Beyond, the Enterprise-A is in the process of being constructed at the expansive Yorktown starbase, leading Kirk and some of his crew to take the USS Endeavour out for an exploratory spin while our iconic flagship is being rebuilt. At the end of Beyond we saw the reunited Enterprise crew, on their new ship, warp out for more adventures – Boldly Go is about what happens in the middle.
As the twelfth issue prepares to drop, and we begin reviewing the series at Set The Tape, we thought this was ample opportunity to catch you up on Boldly Go and just what Kirk & co have been up to…
The first four issues take the boldest of bold opening steps and bring the fearsome Borg into the Kelvin timeline. Given its highly unlikely any of the Abrams-produced films will tackle the assimilating cyborgs, the comics feel like a great vehicle to have Kirk encounter the mechanical life forms who believe in transforming all species into their shared collective. Now bear in mind, in the original timeline, the Borg are first encountered by the Enterprise-D officially well over 100 years after Kirk’s era (technically the NX-Enterprise crew 100 years earlier first faced them, but, that’s another story…) – so how and why does Kirk’s crew meet them way earlier than originally intended?
Johnson could have just said “oh it’s a new timeline, new rules” but he actually comes up with a clever narrative reason – the Borg are looking for the Narada, the massive Romulan juggernaut extremist Nero used to travel back from the 2380’s & destroy the USS Kelvin, thereby changing the past forever. As revealed in prequel comic Countdown, set before the 2009 Star Trek reboot movie, the Narada was partially constructed by Nero from salvaged Borg technology, given in that future the Federation had very much encountered the Borg as TNG, Voyager & First Contact had well documented. In this timeline, the Borg sensing their own technology and using it as a pretext to invade Romulus looking for it, long before they ever would have ran into Captain Picard & co, is a clever and logical way of having The Original Series crew face an enemy who hadn’t been invented during the first five year mission.
Partly thanks to a nearly assimilated Spock, who resists Borg conversion after being abducted, and a combined Endeavour/Romulan effort, the Borg Sphere is destroyed – not before almost killing Captain Terrell of the destroyed USS Concord and his first officer, a promoted Commander Hikaru Sulu’s, husband. Terrell, of course, is the younger version of the ill-fated future captain of the USS Reliant in The Wrath of Khan (in a timeline that no longer exists, of course).
While Kirk may save the Romulan Empire from the Borg, there is a sting in the tail; they negotiate to arrest his first officer, half Romulan Commander Talas, for the crimes of her defector parents, in exchange for letting the Endeavour and her crew go. Kirk has no idea Talas is very soon after recruited by the sinister Romulan spy organisation, the Tal’Shiar…
Issue five takes a stand-alone approach and cleverly peels back the rather touching and melancholic backstory of Jaylah, an alien woman who the Enterprise crew find marooned on and are assisted by when they’re left on the planet Altamid by sinister extremist Krall in Beyond, we see Jaylah’s story, Memento-style, played backwards from when she loses her family to Krall’s collection of mercenaries on Altamid, to how they crashlanded on the planet, all the way back to her birth. It’s surprisingly affecting but reminds us Jaylah joined Starfleet Academy at the end of Beyond and has found a new family to accept her.
For issue six, we’re gifted much more of an old-fashioned science-fiction Trek story as the Endeavour comes across an extremely rare ‘white hole’ that starts playing havoc with their optics. We get some layered hints as to the next episode with talk of the Babel Conference, and with Sulu becoming first officer we see Johnson layering in continued ongoing narratives and character development. Beyond that, the Endeavour finds itself embroiled in a high concept story about inter-dimensional aliens and a reversal of Starfleet’s own Prime Directive (with humans being the culture not-interfered with) that you hope could be revisited down the line.
The seventh and eighth issues dip into the realm of espionage as the Endeavour supports the Babel Conference, a summit well known from TOS episode ‘Journey to Babel’, here repurposed as an attempt to get the Romulans around the peace table given the fear the Borg may well return one day in force. Spock joins father Sarek as the New Vulcan delegation, everything is going well, until the Romulan Ambassador is murdered and all the evidence points to a young Andorian Starfleet cadet, and new friend of Jaylah’s, being responsible.
Inevitably, conspiracy is afoot, with Kirk working to track down in space the responsible parties (allowing for some neat EVA suit in space shootouts) while Spock, in his cod-ambassadorial role (a nice nod to the man he may become), protects crewman Shev politically from Romulans convinced Starfleet is responsible. In the end, it turns out to be a Tellarite patsy of a Romulan plot, but Kirk once again feels like the loser even when Shev is exonerated, when his former XO Talas—now part of the Romulan delegation—refuses to return with him to Starfleet. Has she really turned or is she playing a long game? We’ll no doubt find out later in the run.
Issue nine tells a stand-alone story focused on New Vulcan, and solely Spock and Uhura. They’ve not been on ship, as it were, except briefly helping out against the Borg, in Boldly Go as they’ve chosen to help the restoration of New Vulcan, with Uhura becoming a teacher. Star Trek Beyond played down their romance but Johnson is interested in rekindling the dynamic, to an extent, as Spock & Uhura here face the question of whether they should become betrothed, but when Uhura is psychically affected by the remnants of an empathic, extinct alien race trying to warn the Vulcans against drilling into the planet, they agree a wedding may not be right for them right now, especially as they plan to rejoin the Enterprise crew once the ship is built.
Now the tenth issue is a very enjoyable little curio, picking up on a thread from Beyond you probably never expected to be unravelled – the tiny yet aggressive Teenaxi who Kirk steals a key artefact from at the beginning of the movie which Krall later uses to disturbing effect. Johnson plays everything here for comedy, from the name of our little Teenaxi (Kevin), to his interactions with the already comical Keenser, Scotty at his loud and mirth making best, and creating an entire plot line for comedy around the new Enterprise Captain’s chair! It’s a light, intentionally breezy issue which further shows how Boldly Go is establishing a nice retinue of supporting players around the main crew, and is very confident in mixing up the tone and style of stories month to month.
Which brings us up to date, with the eleventh issue introducing a major fan favourite – Garth of Izar, first seeing in TOS’ ‘Whom Gods Destroy’; a crazed former Starfleet Captain of the USS Axanar who, around the time period Discovery is now playing in, defeated the Klingons in a legendary battle before seemingly dying in a nasty transporter accident while on Antos IV. Flashbacks neatly tell the story of Garth, and how he first met Kirk while teaching at the Academy & left a mark on our Captain, before Kirk is drawn by Eurydice, an old flame, into a sinister trap on Antos IV: Garth is Eurydice in disguise, seemingly able to metamorphose into anyone having survived, and we last see him assume Kirk’s form and return to the Endeavour, posing as our Captain, but to what end?
Star Trek Boldly Go #12 is released on Wednesday and will be reviewed on our site. Let us know what you think of the series!