Comics

Star Trek: Waypoint – Comic Review

Star Trek fans have often been characterised as moaning about every decision the franchise makes, from daring to make a new spin-off series in 1987, lens flares in the Kelvin timeline and Discovery being too futuristic for a prequel to The Original Series. However, in 2016, as Star Trek celebrated its 50th anniversary the release of the fan and critically acclaimed Star Trek Beyond, fans felt rightly disappointed that such a landmark occasion in the franchise arrived with little fanfare beyond some token boxset re-releases and the odd book. In recent years Doctor Who and Star Wars have marked anniversaries with remarkable events, coverage and celebrations, leaving Trekkies feeling rather frustrated.

In 2016, IDW comics released twelve stories spread over six issues anthology  bringing together different artists, authors and most importantly the five-different series, The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise to celebrate the anniversary and universe built over half a century. Now the anthology has been brought together in this edition allowing fans to enjoy the pre-Discovery universe during the first season break.

Issue 1 – Puzzles

Written by Donny Cates with art by Mark Chater.

In a post-Nemesis world, the Enterprise captained by LaForge and with Data as his second officer who has his net linked in with the computer and projecting holographic Data’s throughout the ship. The Enterprise encounters a mysterious cube from further in the future that is sending out the Prime Directive as a signal.

An enjoyable start to this anthology and with a beautiful design, unlike the Boldly Go series which feels very digital, this looks like a throwback to the comics of the 90’s. The idea of holographic Data’s is an interesting angle, it navigates the consequences of ‘The Measure of a Man’ well and makes for a fun idea.

Issue 2 – Daylily

Written and art by Sandra Lanz

Uhura, due to a transport accident, is stranded on an alien planet and attempts to communicate with an alien bug. Uhura in Star Trek despite being the communication officer is often treated like a glorified receptionist and her ability to communicate with aliens is almost non-existent throughout the series or it’s treated like comical incompetence in Star Trek VI, however this issue treats Uhura as an expert in her field like the other senior crew.

One of the shorter and best issues in the series, unlike many comics which use the pen to show the huge space battles that rarely featured in Trek, this adds to a character in a perfect way.

Issue 3 – The Menace of the Mechanitrons

Written by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore with art by Gordon Purcell and Jason Lewis.

A highly enjoyable romp as Kirk and his away team find Klingon’s using power loader style machines to mine a planet. The Klingon’s have seized control from an alien who respect strength and Kirk and his team come together in a battle between these power loaders to come out on top.

It’s impossible not to smile while reading this issue and the artwork feels very much in tune with era. The conundrum and the design of the machines are very much home in the 60’s.

Issue 4 – Legacy

Written by Sam Maggs with art by Rachael Stott

In The Original Series episode, ‘By Another Name’, we saw the first female red shirt officer death and this deep dive presents a melancholy look back on Yeoman Leslie Thompson’s experiences aboard the Enterprise leading to her death. Thompson’s involvement with the crew during episodes like ‘Mirror, Mirror’ and ‘The Doomsday Machine’ where she plays a lower decks style role saving the day.

It also humanises the at times comic red shirts of The Original Series and adds a poignancy to her death that was missing in the episode. This is a rich reward for fans of the series and a beautifully written comic.

Issue 5 – The Wildman Maneuver

Written and art by Corin Howell

Almost entirely viewed through Naomi Wildman’s homemade comic book, we find Voyager under attack from alien creatures that resemble snot like monsters and Janeway out of commission and in desperate need of coffee, “Wild-man” and her sidekick Seven of Nine burst into action to save the day.

The artwork perfectly captures the imagination of a young child, especially abroad a starship and how she views the characters with their best and worst features. Voyager is limited to only one issue in this anthology, but it is so well represented with this unique tale.

Issue 6 – Mother’s Walk

Written by Cecil Castellucci with art from Megan Evans.

Kira shares with Dax the story of Bajorian women before the Occupation taking walk with only fabric over some challenging terrain as pilgrimage and then under Cardassian rule, women who would defy them to make this journey would find themselves hung by their own fabric in public display.

A harrowing image and exploration of the occupation of Bajor, it’s a story that brings together the idea of family by blood and friendship together well. It’ll certainly add to the many horrors viewers will associate with the Cardassians in the series.

Issue 7 – The Fragile Beauty of Loyalty

Written by Vivek J. Tiwary with art by Hugo Petrus

After the shock and horror of a hanging in Issue 6, Enterprise makes its solo appearance in this anthology as a young Jonathan Archer while heading out on the ice is attacked by a Suliban agent sent back in time to kill the future Captain of the Enterprise. Thankfully a time travelling dog is sent to save the day and Archer!

Again the highlight of this anthology series is deep diving into the series and looking to add to those background characters, be they either a ‘red shirt’ or Captain’s faithful companion.

Issue 8 – Mirror, Mirror, Mirror, Mirror

Written by Scott Bryan Wilson with art by Caspar Wijngaard

Worf and Crusher encounter a mirror on an alien planet surrounded by plants and end up with several duplicates of themselves.

Few things get Trekkies as excited as the promise of a mirror universe adventure and sadly I shouldn’t have judged this issue by its title. A very dull story that pulls nothing or adds to anything in The Next Generation.

Issue 9 – Frontier Medicine

Written by Cavan Scott with art by Josh Hood

Set just after Deep Space Nine’s Federation crew arrived, a youthful Julian Bashir looks to save the life of an alien after a vicious attack. As a Deep Space Nine fan I enjoyed this return to the roots of Bashir with his overly positive and grating attitude to others and what a truly alien place at times Deep Space Nine would be as the Gamma Quadrant arrive.

This comic itself could easily have been an episode in the first season but that becomes the biggest flaw of the comic as it doesn’t feel like it truly takes advantage of an author’s free reign.

Issue 10 – Come Away, Child

Written and art by Simon Roy

Ensign Herrada is transferred from the Enterprise to observe with a reclusive Doctor an alien species in the initial stages of development. This comic took a few pages to engage with me but when it does, I loved where it went, and it delivers a very sombre story. After the disappointment of the previous issues, this is a return to form and again deep dives into the small cracks of the Star Trek universe.

We’ve seen many duck blinds or observer episodes and this is a unique twist on a traditional trek story and delivers an unforgettable end that few Trek shows would dare to deliver.

Issue 11 – The Rebound Effect

Written by Corinna Bechko with art by Chris Herndon

One of the pleasures of this anthology has been the focus on female characters and in this The Original Series story, the focus is on Nurse Chapel.

Too often in the series she was just helping Doctor McCoy by handing him instruments, in this adventure she gets to save the day and it adds some backstory to her character in the show and how she earns her prominent role alongside McCoy.

Issue 12 – The Fear

Written by Gabriel Hardman with art by Gabriel Hardman

The finale to this series in a Phase II tale where Spock has left and Decker and new Vulcan science officer Xon have been added to the Enterprise crew. For those who have watched Star Trek: Discovery, the story now bares a strong resemblance to the tardigrade plotline from those early episodes, unintentionally so.

This one of the rare appearances of mass amounts of blood in Star Trek and it really sells this space horror with Romulans. I’d love to have seen this episode drawn to life, it was a gripping end to the series and the use of Phase II was an exciting pay off for fans.

Overall… a highly enjoyable tribute to Star Trek on its 50th anniversary and while there are several issues in this anthology that come up short, when this series deep dives and adds to surface level characters, ideas and concepts only touched upon in the series are expanded upon and deliver unique, fun, gripping and sombre stories. A lack of Voyager and Enterprise stories will be frustrating for fans of those series.

With a few months to go now until Star Trek: Discovery returns to streaming services following its finale this weekend, this anthology series will be a great way to spend those winter nights in the final frontier with some great stories.

Star Trek: Waypoint is now available from IDW Publishing.

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