10. “Strange New Worlds”
Star Trek 2013 Annual by John Byrne
In 2013, IDW Publishing released the first of a series of stunning photo novels by comic book legend John Byrne. Byrne meticulously cropped and altered images from actual episodes of “Star Trek” to tell new stories set in the original series. The first of these bizarre but amazing stories was published as an annual. The story was a sequel to the second “Star Trek” pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” about Captain James T. Kirk dealing with his helmsman, Gary Marshal, becoming a powerful God-like creature. In this story, Kirk returned to the planet where Marshal was killed and buried, only to discover that Gary’s spirit still lived and wanted revenge on Kirk for his corporeal death. It was stunning how well Byrne’s foto-novel worked.
9. “All the Infinite Ways”
“Star Trek” #13 (Marvel Volume 1) by Martin Pasko, Joe Brozowski, Tom Palmer and a bunch of inkers
Writer Martin Pasko’s greatest triumph in skirting Paramount’s onerous licensing restrictions was this touching story involving Doctor McCoy running into his estranged daughter, Joanna, on a mission to a planet where the Klingons and the Federation were each trying to gain drilling rights. Joanna was referenced once in an episode of the original series, but perhaps Paramount either didn’t notice or didn’t care that Pasko worked her into this story. Adding to their estrangement, Joanna was engaged to a Vulcan! The other story involved the Klingons discovering that the ape-like inhabitants of the planet at issue used artificial means to become sentient and their plan was to destroy the factory that produced the devices that made them sentient, so that the Klingons could take over the planet (as they would not be held to a treaty if there was no intelligent life on the planet anymore). When the Klingons then took Joanna hostage, McCoy and Joanna’s Vulcan fiance had to work together to save her and stop the Klingons.
8. “The Worst of Both Worlds”
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” #47-50 by Michael Jan Friedman, Peter Krause, Pablo Maros and Romeo Tanghal
In this epic storyline, the Enterprise found itself stuck in a rift in time and space and ended up in a parallel universe. In this universe, the crew of the Enterprise was unable to save Captain Jean-Luc Picard from his fate as Locutus of the Borg. As a result of that failure, the Borg had assimilated Earth and used the planet as a home base to assimilate the rest of the universe. Only a small group of survivors, led by Captain William Riker (with a badass eyepatch), had prevented the Borg from making all resistance futile, as Riker’s ship continued making guerrilla attacks on the Borg to distract them from the rest of the human resistance. The crew of “our” Enterprise agreed to help this universe stop the Borg.
7. “The Trial of James T. Kirk”
“Star Trek” #7-12 (DC Volume 2) by Peter David, Jim Fry, Gordon Purcell and Arne Starr
In this classic tale, Peter David managed to let the crew of the Enterprise finally come to terms with all the crazy events that had occurred in the film series from “Wrath of Khan” through “The Voyage Home,” with Kirk having to stand trial for the Klingon that he killed in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” after first being hunted down by the bounty hunter Sweeney over said killing. The trial allowed David to reach deep into the “Star Trek” annals for many amusing callbacks. It was interesting to see Kirk finally have to perhaps pay the piper over his rather liberal take on the Prime Directive over the years. This arc also developed the intriguing Enterprise protocol officer R.J. Blaise, who had a fascinating relationship with Kirk — he stood against everything she believed in, but also couldn’t help but be attracted to him. It was a great dynamic and Blaise was a strong character.
6. “The Final Voyage”
“Star Trek Annual” #2 (DC Volume 1) by Mike W. Barr, Dan Jurgens and Bob Smith
Then-regular “Star Trek” comic book writer Mike W. Barr handled this special look at the final mission of the Enterprise’s fabled five-year mission (the previous year’s annual had detailed the first mission in the five-year mission). On the way home to Earth to make way for the incoming crew (including new Captain Will Decker), the Enterprise found itself diverted to Talos IV, which the Klingons had secretly taken over. The Klingons tormented the crew by subjecting them to illusions created by the Talosians, forcing the crew to relive all their worst moments over the past five years. The Klingons erred, though, by pushing Kirk too far. This was a fine tribute to the end of a great (seemingly never-ending) five years.
5. “Double Blind”
“Star Trek” #24-25 (DC Volume 1) by Diane Duane, Tom Sutton and Ricardo Villagran
This story was set during the period between “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” where Admiral Kirk is in command of the Excelsior. This hilarious story involved the Excelsior being attacked by the insectoid race the Ajir, who are so incompetent that Kirk just allowed them to “take over” the Excelsior, knowing that they would not know what to do once they had the ship, and thus resolving things peacefully. However, another alien race, the Grond, then attacked the Ajir and also tried to take over the Excelsior. The Grond are essentially just kittens, so Kirk had to maneuver between two weak opponents without offending anyone or letting anyone get hurt. It’s a really funny story and Duane had a few characters from her “Star Trek” novels appear in the comic.
4. “New Frontiers”/”The Mirror Universe Saga”
“Star Trek” #9-16 (DC Volume 1) by Mike W. Barr, Tom Sutton and Ricardo Villagran
This epic adventure took place right after “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” as Admiral Kirk and his crew are about to be brought in for court martial due to their actions during “Star Trek III.” However, things are interrupted by an invasion from the alternate universe known as the “Mirror Universe” from the classic original TV series episode “Mirror, Mirror,” where the heroic crew of the Enterprise are villains. The court martial was put on hold while Kirk and his crew repel the invasion, and readers saw Kirk travel to the alternate universe where he encountered the Mirror universe version of his son, David, who died in “Star Trek III.” It is a powerful storyline, filled with deep moments of characterization as well as some awesome action. By the end of the story, Barr managed to set the book up well for the status quo it would inhabit for thirty issues until after “The Voyage Home.”
3. “Debt of Honor”
“Star Trek: Debt of Honor” by Chris Claremont, Adam Hughes and Karl Story
In this original graphic novel (one of the first comic book works by Chris Claremont after his epic 17-year run on “X-Men” came to an end), we discover an alien race that keeps popping up throughout “Star Trek” history, but they manage to maintain their hidden nature, and only James Kirk knows that they are up to no good. Well, among the Federation, that is. Someone else who knew that the aliens were up to no good was a Romulan captain, T’Cel, who was basically Kirk’s Romulan counterpart. Adam Hughes drew the heck out of T’Cel, as she was right up his stylistic alley. T’Cel and Kirk go rogue together to take down the alien threat. It’s a wonderful tribute to the history of “Star Trek” by Claremont and Hughes and Story do a magnificent job on the art.
2. “Once a Hero…”
“Star Trek” #19 (DC Volume 2) by Peter David, Gordon Purcell and Arne Starr
In this heartfelt issue, Captain Kirk tried to come to grips with the death of one of the security officers on the Enterprise. Much has been said over the years about the anonymous “red shirts” who die while working as security officers on the Enterprise. David, then, chose to have that very anonymity called into question. What do you do with the death of someone who died to protect you but you know nothing about them? What kind of strange debt do you owe someone like that? Kirk is plagued by these thoughts when he realizes that no one else on the ship knew Ensign Lee, either. Kirk, though, very thoughtfully managed to find some sense of peace in Lee’s passing, in what what David’s final issue as the regular writer of the “Star Trek” ongoing series.
“Star Trek Annual” #3 (DC Volume 1) by Peter David, Curt Swan and Ricardo Villagran
Inspired by the famous Harold Pinter play, “Betrayal,” David did a tour de force writing performance in this one-shot examining the life and death of Montgomery Scott’s wife, Glynnis Campbell. Using Pinter’s backwards storytelling approach, David slowly pulled back the curtains on Scotty’s relationship with Glynnis, with events taking place “off panel” at major events in “Star Trek” history, going all the way back to when he and Glynnis were children. It’s a heartbreakingly thoughtful comic book, teaching us all that any character in a narrative can become the star of their own story, as Scotty is in this classic tale.
What’s your favorite “Star Trek” comic book story?
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