When we last left the comic-book interpretations of the rebooted classic Enterprise crew, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Rand, Boma and some random yahoos had crash-landed the shuttle Galileo 7 on the planet Taurus II where large, ape-like creatures are threatening to tear them apart. Meanwhile, Kirk is frantically searching for the missing shuttle, but may have to abandon his efforts soon owing to a visiting Federation High Commissioner forcing Kirk to pursue other obligations; namely the delivery of medical supplies to Makus III. Will Spock and company survive? Will everything shake out the way it did the original episode? Read below to find out.
As in the original story, the shuttle is out of juice and Scotty has determined the only way the shuttle can achieve orbit is to use the power from the crew’s hand phasers. Unfortunately, the combined weight of all the crewmembers will be just a tad great than what this jury-rigged propulsion job can handle. With Spock as the ranking officer, the decision of who will get the short straw is left to him. Differing from the original episode, the body of Latimer is kept aboard the ship and the other “redshirt” crewman Gaetano is somehow alive. These shuttle crewmembers spend a little less time outside than their original counterparts did! Also, the savage inhabitants of Taurus II are given a more beast-like ape appearance in this incarnation of the story, owning more to the way the characters described them in the classic episode, which wasn’t necessarily reflected in the production design of the show.
Unlike the Captain Kirk of old, this current Captain Kirk has not thought to send additional shuttlecraft out to widen the search radius of the Murasaki 312 area, an oversight which is corrected in the nick of time by his communications officer, one Nyota Uhura. While Spock basically goes with the flow and attempts to achieve orbit and leave no one behind, Uhura has stolen a shuttle in a mad attempt to find her pointy-eared boyfriend. As the barely airborne Galileo 7 teeters on disaster; Bones, Spock, and Boma all debate as to who will leap to their doom in order to lighten the load. Luckily, they never have to make the decision, as Uhura finds them just in time. Presumably, she picks everyone up and soon they’re all back on the Enterprise where Kirk makes some suggestive suggestions as to what Spock and Uhura should do with their new mandatory downtime. All is well. Spock and Uhura are going to get it on, and those colonists are going to get their medicine on time.
Though not more exciting than IDW’s reimagining of “Where No Man Has Gone Before” I found, when taken together with part one, that this do-over of “The Galileo Seven” was way more satisfying. Any Trek story in which the clock is ticking and a radical decision on the part of one character will change everything is okay in my book. In the original story having Spock dump all the fuel at the last instant so the Enteprise would see something shiny on their sensors is a total delight because it indicates he’s willing to do super illogical things in a moment of desperation. As Kirk would say many years later, “You know what? Everybody’s human.” This time, both Kirk and Spock are out of ideas and it’s Uhura who gets to do the risky save-the-day stuff. Does this diminish the importance of Spock’s development in the original story? Not really, because this is a different Spock, arguably, a Spock who is a little healthier emotionally than his prime-universe counterpart. He has a girlfriend, has perspective on his humanity, and knows the limits of his various friendships, all without having gone through too much. I feel like writer Mike Johnson must have known this and figured, correctly, that in this new continuity, we don’t need to have another story which shows Spock can be more human. So instead, a different kind of story was told.
It all may have happened a bit too fast for my tastes, and I felt Kirk was marginalized a bit, but the overall story was a good one. My only quibbles are small: Rand didn’t serve any real function in the story, and Kirk’s eye-color still seems inconsistent. To be very nit-picky, in the middle Kirk says “I’m going back to Makus III Commissioner.” Surely he means Murasaki 312? Makus III is where they’re supposed to be going not where they’re coming from. I know this is probably just a dumb typo, and I myself have been known to be the perpetrator of several, but this confuses the arc of the story in way that is troublesome. Did original writers Oliver Crawford and Shimon Wincelberg give Johnson a headache by having Murasaki 312 and Makus III sound pretty much the same? Yep! It’s confusing! This would be a case in which I would have probably just changed the name of the one of the planets. I mean who cares, right? Hell, why not change the species and/or gender of the Federation High Commissioner? It might be fun to see just how alternate this alternate universe is.
All in all, if the last two issues of IDW’s new comic series had me worried, they got me back with this one. Let’s keep going boldly!
There are arguably two glaring problems with the Original Series: 1) female characters do practically nothing interesting, certainly not as central cast members, and 2) while the relationship between Kirk, Spock and Bones is the heart and soul of Trek, we really don’t see many of the other crew members interacting on the same level. We know they’re all buddies, sure, but we don’t see those same deep bonds between Scotty and Sulu, or Bones and Chekov. While the Abrams reboot was clearly attempting to give the rest of the crew some valuable screentime, it remains to be seen whether or not some balance can be achieved in portraying them well without sacrificing time with the Holy Trek Trinity. (What? I’m the only person who calls them that?)
This comic series indicates that it can, and what’s more, that there’s much this crew can learn from each other because they’re starting out together in their Starfleet careers. Having Uhura make the decision to run off and save the day was a brilliant switch; it allowed her to teach Kirk a lesson for a change and, more importantly, was the sort of thing that only the boys were allowed to do in 60s Trek. Rand may not have been important, but she was flying the shuttle, and I like to think this means we’re going to see more of her in the future. Also, that moment where Scotty berates himself for having spoken too soon and McCoy jokes that he should have stopped him was a great little nudge in the direction I’d been hoping for. This crew is probably going to be closer all the way around for spending their formative years in each other’s company.
A note on Kirk and Starfleet Regulations: it’s pretty darned amusing that Kirk seems to know Starfleet Codes verbatim at the drop of a Commodore’s hat. We’ve seen him do the same in the film, but Shatner’s Kirk never seemed quite so preoccupied with being able to recite the rules. Personal theory? Pine’s Kirk knows the regulations back to front because he’s always breaking the rules in a way that even original Kirk never got away with. So he needs to be able to call up the book when it’s thrown at him, or he knows he’ll be in more trouble.
It’s also interesting to see how Kirk handles his command when he has officers on his crew who are in a relationship. It was only addressed once on the Original Series very briefly, but you always got the impression that he would be all for it. Nice to see it confirmed. If these comics keep heading in this direction, I’ll be entirely pleased.
[Images from comic book interior via Star Trek.com]
Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com.
Emily Asher-Perrin is the Editorial Assistant for Tor.com.