The IDW ongoing Star Trek comic series has started to boldly go where it hasn’t gone before: a totally original storyline. All the prior installments of this series have, up until this point, been retellings of classic 60s Trek stories, with both major and minor alterations to the plots, characters, and outcomes. Because current Trek screenwriter Roberto Orci is a creative consultant on these comics, it’s possible some of these developments could be considered spoilers for the new continuity of the current film series. With a limited amount of information available about what is happening in the new Trek universe, these comics are an interesting window into the continuing voyages of not just the Enterprise, but everyone else who lives in the same galaxy.
So what is the first IDW original story about? Well, it’s called “Vulcan’s Vengeance” and as you might guess, the Vulcans are pretty pissed about the destruction of their home planet. And they’re fighting back
The story opens in a seedy alien bar, where a two-faced (literally) alien guy chats with some creepy guys who’s faces we never see. This alien claims to have the secret details on the Narada, the ship Nero used to blow up the planet Vulcan in the last Star Trek movie. After some kind of strange fracas, these guys manage to get the info and split. Meanwhile, back in space, the Enterprise notices a subspace relay near the Romulan/Federation border has been damaged intentionally. Uhura says the whole thing is clearly not an accident when, all of a sudden, a Vulcan ship shows up.
Spock points out this shouldn’t be the case, as all Vulcan ships are specifically doing stuff in relation to finding a new colony planet for the survivors. Nonetheless, a Vulcan ship is totally hanging out there. Kirk and company decide to investigate, but over on the subspace relay station some dudes wearing Cobra-Commander style masks are shooting at Vulcans. Now there are two Vulcan ships there: one carrying the Vulcans who aren’t supposed to be there, and another with masked people shooting them. What’s going on?
Kirk, Spock, and a notably mostly female security force beam over and exchange some phaser fire with the mysterious masked bad guys. And though the Enterprise has a tractor beam on the second offending Vulcan vessel, the ship still manages to break the lock and escape. But before skipping town, one of the masked men de-masks and reveals himself to Kirk as one of the survivors of Nero’s crew. He also lets Captain Kirk know that he just scored the last little bit of red matter in the universe.
Kirk’s got a bellyache about all these new problems: renegade Vulcans versus renegade Romulans, plus, with subspace relay destroyed, it’s going to take awhile to warn Starfleet. Spock manages to get one of the Vulcans on the first renegade vessel to spill the beans on what they were doing there in the first place. It turns out the Vulcans were on a covert mission to pick up some red matter too, but the Romulans came and stole it from them. Kirk is pissed and Spock is worried.
It all ends with a killer reveal a few pages later, as we’re treated to a scene on the fleeing Vulcan ship where the supposed Narada survivor turns to a hooded figure and congratulates him on their plan working perfectly. The hood is pulled back, and it’s none other than Spock’s dad, Sarek. Oh no! What could it all mean?
The fact that IDW is now tackling an original story is pretty exciting, considering there hasn’t been any ongoing Star Trek comic book continuity in awhile. I remember reading the DC Star Trek comics when I was a kid, and absolutely loving the complicated long arcs they’d try to pull off. This new issue reminds me of those DC arcs. It’s a complicated story steeped in a lot of dorky Star Trek stuff. It’s also playing with the actual political and social fallout from the Vulcans losing their planet. Here, it looks like some kind of shadowy conspiracy is underway, and Sarek is behind it all! Oddly, this has shades of some of the better episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise where Captain Archer discovered some of underhanded stuff being perpetrated on behalf of the Vulcan High Command. (There’s also an interesting reference to the Vulcan “Empire” which seems to echo the more aggressive ancient past of the species.)
The use of the Enterprise-era Vulcan ships was also a nice continuity touch, as was having almost all the situations in this story directly related to Kirk’s defeat of Nero in the first film. I’m not crazy about “red matter” being a major plot point again, but the story is fun and exciting. I’m a little disappointed that this “Vulcan’s Vengeance” will likely only span two issues, as I feel like the intrigue and twists and turns could build up for awhile. But that is the only broad compliant I had.
I do however; have a minor, very annoying Star Trek fan complaint. In the first panel on the first page we’re told this bar is in a forgotten corner of the Delta Quadrant. Is this right? Are the Vulcans jetting around through transwarp corridors or using the power of the Q? Because the entire premise of Star Trek: Voyager was a ship stranded in the Delta Quadrant and a big deal was made about how FAR AWAY from everything else that part of space is. This seems like a mistake made by the writers, and a sort of lazy one at that. (Couldn’t you have just said “sector 47” or even “Beta Quadrant?”) Though I suppose if it does turn out to be the real Delta Quadrant, and there’s a good explanation, that could be interesting. Maybe we’ll get to see Neelix’s father! Or not.
3D chess! Sorry, that was honestly when I started caring about this. I love that they’re continuing with the chess arc through these comics and that Kirk is so determined to beat Spock. I’m really hoping that by the time the next film is out, we’ll have seen a comic where Kirk wins and Spock is suitably astonished, just like the show.
I find it interesting that we keep seeing lots of ladies on security detail. It’s funny on one hand, considering that they’re in the same positions that the oft short-lived redshirts occupied on the Enterprise. They do seem to have a higher mortality rate so far, which is probably because they haven’t rehashed any episodes that had much of a ‘random extra’ body count, “Galileo Seven” aside. On the other hand, it feels as though these women are being added to these comics to make up for how rarely women were in the main action on the Original Series. Which is great. It would be greater if they did this in the upcoming film, though. It would also be great in the comics if they were fully realized characters. (Bring back Yeoman Rand! Do something fun with her!)
I’ve never had a moment to make a comment about this, but one thing that I do appreciate about these comics is how easy it is to imagine the voices of the new actors within the dialogue. It’s particularly true for Kirk and Spock, of course, especially Kirk when you match it with his facial expressions.
Whoa, Spock, you need to slow down with the threatening to mind-meld with unwilling parties—the title of this comic does not say “The Undiscovered Country” unless mine eyes are failing me. Take it easy! Also, something tells me that Sarek is gonna be in all kinds of trouble when this is done. I really wish this was going to be a longer arc, because I can’t wait to see where that leave father and son.
Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com.
Emily Asher-Perrin is the Editorial Assistant for Tor.com.