Star Trek Into Darkness is undoubtedly one of the biggest movies of the year. As they did with the original, IDW have released a prequel comic book aiming to give us some background. Although scripted by usual Trek comic scribe Mike Johnson, screenwriter Roberto Orci gets co-credit for the overall story. Meaning this is indeed official cannon to the movies.
The story begins an undisclosed amount of time following the first movie. Clearly the crew are quite settled and the Enterprise has been cruising the galaxy for quite some time. In true Trek style it’s not long before they come across a nearby planet where things aren’t quite right. After sending down a landing party the crew discover a rather perplexing character that complicates the already puzzling situation. From there the story proceeds relying heavily on character moments with a nice spot of action here and there to spice things up.
The rare peculiar depiction aside, artist David Messina captures the onscreen actors exceptionally well. Memories of the movies are unavoidable as everything from Spock’s no-nonsense expression to the Enterprise itself seem plucked straight from the screen. Colours from Claudia Scarletgothica give the pencils a wonderfully glossy appearance mimicking the bright pristine scenes we’re expecting. Everything about the art adds to a perfectly faithful realisation.
The characters are definitely the backbone of the plot, Johnson has a firm grasp of their personalities and I couldn’t help but hear the accompanying actor’s voice as I followed the dialogue. Even the new characters introduced here are worthy additions. If there’s a criticism to be had regarding them it’s that Kirk and Spock are unmistakably the stars here. The rest of the crew are relegated to almost cameo roles. Arguably that’s supposed to be the case, but I felt that the story would have benefited from some more lines from McCoy and the rest. In their defence, the story only has four issues to use when broken down, so they may have chosen to do so to avoid any pacing issues by packing too much in.
Following the traditional TV formula, the story bounces between the away team down on the planet and the crew back on the Enterprise. In fact, in a lot of ways the story feels like a classic episode of the show. There’s enough danger and suspense to keep you on edge but things never hit the truly epic proportions we see in the movies. There are some twists and turns before the conclusion arrives but you’re unlikely to be totally stunned by any developments. Unfortunately because of the source material we know that nothing completely catastrophic can occur, but there’s still a fun story to be had regardless.
Those expecting a concrete tie-in to the movie may be a little disappointed. Direct connections to the sequel are thin, instead the comic uses an unrelated tale to evoke the themes and questions that we see answered in the movie. It’s a smart move on the creative team’s part, as it makes a compelling standalone story that can be enjoyed with or without it’s supporting media. However, your desire for more Star Trek will directly impact your enjoyment of the story. If you’re only interested because you want something that will flesh out the plot lines seen in the recent film, then you may want to give this a miss. There isn’t a lick of new information on John Harrison and the threats seen in Into Darkness are practically only present indirectly. That said, if you just want more of the Enterprise crew doing what they do best, then this story delivers.
The comic can currently be found at around £10, which feels reasonable for the ninety-plus pages you get. Meanwhile you can also grab it digitally over on Comixology for a cheaper price.