Captain Benjamin Sisko and the crew of the USS Theseus have had their first experience of a fearsome power which threatens to lay waste to those higher beings which some may refer to as ‘Gods’. Now, in an attempt to try and learn more about what this weapon is and who may have control over it, Sisko finds himself reunited with a former comrade and trusted friend, in the second issue of IDW’s latest Star Trek comic.
The big thing with officially licenced spin-off media from ongoing TV programmes is that if you venture into canon-expanding areas, rather than tinkering around the edges in safe and established territory, you run the risk of having all your hard work overwritten by the series’ production teams, undoing any notion of the legitimacy of your continuity. As a salutary example, just look at Alex Kurtzman, who overrode himself – he penned an ‘official’ comic book precursor story to 2009’s Star Trek reboot, only to then contradict what he had written when he subsequently became the chief creative force behind the franchise’s revival on TV.
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If even Kurtzman – who is a fine example of the principle of poacher turned gamekeeper – can change his mind over the canonicity of his own material, then pity those poor writers who toil away on novels and comic books, labouring under a notion that all their output is fully endorsed and sanctioned from on high, only to run the risk it can be done away with on a whim. The original source material takes precedence, and the creative forces behind that are not hidebound to adhere to what has been established in other media, especially if it means telling a story at the expense of negating somebody else’s accomplishments and hard graft.
Another prime instance of this in practice is the case of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which – up until the point of Lucasfilm’s sale to the House of Mouse – was treated as the authorised, legitimate continuation of the saga post-Return Of The Jedi. After George Lucas walked away in 2012 richer to the tune of some $4.05 billion once the ink had dried on the dotted line, the previous two decades’ worth of material was then unceremoniously shunted off into non-canonical status, so as to not tie the hands of the people who would be putting together the sequel trilogy, a prospect which had for such a long time seemed nigh-on impossible.
This, then, is the predicament in which writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing find themselves with this comic book series. What they have done here is hardly insignificant in terms of franchise continuity – they have served us up the return of Benjamin Sisko from his time with the Prophets, some three years on from the climax of Deep Space Nine, so this is hardly small potatoes, especially as Sisko’s fate is yet to be mentioned on screen in Picard, or any of the tranche of current Trek shows. So, although they do have some wiggle room at the moment, Kurtzman has stated “conversations definitely have been had” about Sisko’s return to TV.
As such, no matter how rubber-stamped or signed off this comic book storyline may have been at a higher level, it all may yet end up being a house of cards, waiting for a gust of wind from the direction of television to bring it all crashing down. Perhaps the best way to enjoy the storyline is to just try and forget the fact this may be relegated to a ‘what if?’ status in the fullness of time, and appreciate it on its own merits. There is certainly plenty for fans to get a kick out of, with the formation of a Travelling Wilburys-type supergroup of Trek alumni from across the generations and shows, and a further member is added in this latest issue.
If nothing else, Kelly and Lanzing have taken the opportunity to reinforce one of Star Trek’s key core principles, using the powers of diplomacy and dialogue over Phasers and Photon Torpedoes to win the day. It seems to be a lesson from which the J.J. Abrams movies could learn a considerable amount, and by being faithful to Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of peaceful exploration, this comic already stands head and shoulders above some of the live action material delivered in the franchise’s name.
Star Trek #2 is out now from IDW Publishing.