Two visions of the future collide in October, when IDW Publishing teams with DC Comics to present “Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes.” IDW, which will publish the six-issue miniseries, announced the project during its Thursday panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego and revealed that Chris Roberson will write the series with Jeffrey and Philip Moy on art. How might Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and the rest of the USS Enterprise crew respond to the 31st century’s teen heroes? Comic Book Resources spoke with Roberson for more details on the crossover project.
“When [IDW Chief Creative Officer] Chris Ryall first approached me about the job a couple months ago, I thought it was a prank,” Roberson told CBR News. “I thought one of my friends had put him up to it. Because there’s no crossover concept more perfectly targeted at me, as a fan, than ‘Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes.’ Luckily I didn’t screw it up. I played along. But honestly, not until I sat down and had a meeting with Ted Adams, the head of IDW, and said, ‘Come on, this isn’t real, is it?’ did they finally convince me.
“There was nothing I loved more when I was 9 than ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Legion of Super Heroes.’ My bona fides are, I was both a member Starfleet, the fan organization, and a card-carrying member of Klingon Language Institute,” the writer continued. “My party trick for years has been that I can rattle off the real names and home planets of every member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. They didn’t have to twist my arm to get me to take this job. So yeah, this is in my wheelhouse.”
Roberson will be working with the classic incarnations of each team, with the Legion entering into the story shortly after “The Great Darkness Saga” and the Enterprise crew picking up shortly after the Original Series, at “some point near the end of the original five-year mission,” Roberson said. “It’s set after the last of the three seasons of the original series, amidst the various novels and comics and spinoffs they’ve had. The crew of the USS Enterprise has experienced everything that we’ve seen on television, but they are still constituted as they were on television, they haven’t moved on yet.”
The crossover will feature six heroes from each team, Roberson told CBR, for a very logical reason. “The limitation was based on the number of transporter pads on a Constitution-class starship,” he said. “There’s only six. So unfortunately, Scotty had to remain on the Enterprise.” The 12 characters will encounter a changed reality, one that merges aspects of the 31st-century DC Universe and the 23rd-century’s Final Frontier to the disadvantage of both. “In the altered universe they find themselves in, what’s happened is that both of their histories have been obliterated by a change that’s happened somewhere in the past,” Roberson explained. “So the bifurcations that would have given rise to both their universes didn’t happen. Elements of both their universes exist in this blended one.”
“The crew of the Enterprise has returned to Earth so Kirk can give the commencement address at Starfleet Academy,” Roberson said of the story’s opening. “Various other members of the bridge crew are beamed down to do other things, but when they materialize on the surface, it’s not the Earth they know. Something has happened to history, and the universe at large, while they were dematerialized. Meanwhile, a group of Legionnaires are returning from an unseen mission in the past to the 31st century and run into an eddy in the timestream, and the time bubble they’re in basically crash-lands in the 23rd century. But the 23rd century is not one they know from history, and they are immediately forced to deal with a very unfriendly population of a very changed Earth.”
With the two teams thrown together, fans can look forward to seeing how Spock and Brainiac 5 will react to each other. “There’s definitely some interesting parallels, and first and foremost was the Spock/Brainiac 5 interaction,” Roberson said, adding that the merged reality takes things a little further with Vulcan and Colu being essentially in the same place in this universe. “They both have green blood and are dedicated to logic, so it makes a certain amount of sense. I’m looking forward to bouncing them off each other, because they’ll eventually end in a stalemate. They both have super-intellects and are good with gadgets. One of the big story beats that was in the outline from the beginning is in issue #3, where it’s Spock and a tricorder up against Brainy and his force-field belt, and the question is, who wins? The answer is neither, they end in a draw.
“Also Cosmic Boy — Rokk Krinn of the planet Braal, and one of the Legionnaires –wasn’t always the leader of the Legion, but he was always kind of the heart of the team, the guy everybody looked to,” the writer continued. “So Cosmic Boy and James Kirk are definitely going to be at odds. I think that Garth Razz — Lightning Lad — and Dr. McCoy are going to be kind of paired off, because they’re both kind of the emotional heart, the reactive, impetuous characters. It’s weird, because at first the pairing of the two concepts seemed a bit of a stretch, but the more I thought about it, it made sense. Both are very, not quite utopian, but very optimistic views of the future. The Legion cruisers are basically the Starship Enterprise. We see them in the first issue, but it’s basically an Enterprise crossed with an ‘Original Series’ Klingon ship. So they certainly made sense flying next to one another.”
With Roberson wrapping up a run on “Superman,” launching an ongoing “Elric” series at BOOM! Studios and continuing his creator-owned “iZombie” with Mike Allred, the writer is currently working in many distinct genres. For “Star Trek/Legion,” he expects the tone to fall “kind of in the middle” of science fiction and superhero action, with somewhat more of the first. “To me, growing up and reading the Legion, it didn’t even read like a superhero story,” Roberson said. “They had codenames and real names, but they don’t have secret identities. They don’t have most of the standard furniture of the superhero genre. They are kids with powers in the future who fight evil. That’s not a million years from what ‘Star Trek’ was; it’s pretty close. So if anything, it’s going to feel like — hopefully, if I do my job right — both the ‘Original Series’ and that Levitz/Giffen-era ‘Legion.’ It may have echoes of things like ‘Mirror, Mirror,’ the original ‘Star Trek’ episode, but it also feels a lot like a DC Elseworlds, where we’re taking recognizable concepts and characters and twisting them just a bit. So we’ll be having little cameos throughout, not only of ‘Star Trek’ universe concepts and characters, but also of those in the DC Universe. We see a very maniacal, evil version of Tommy Tomorrow in the opening pages of the first issue!”
“Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes” will be penciled by former “Legionnaires” and “Star Trek: Voyager” artist Jeffrey Moy, with his brother Philip Moy inking. “They certainly have respectable pedigree with the Legion characters,” Roberson said. “The cast [of creators] lined up for the covers is incredible.” That cast include Phil Jimenez as the regular cover artist and Keith Giffen, Steve Lightle, Mike Grell and “Locke & Key” artist Gabriel Rodriguez providing variants.
“I’m still not convinced it’s not a prank,” Roberson said. “But they’ve paid me for two issues so far, so I guess it’s real?”