Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan #3
December 19, 2011
For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at this comic.
(Open on Linkara still on Comicron 1. He holds a ray gun in his hand and he looks around)
(Linkara stoops down next to the Cybermat)
Linkara: Cybermat, if I give you covering fire and you distract them, then you know what to do, right?
(The Cybermat beeps and shakes around. On the bridge, Mechakara, in Pollo's new body, hovers over the controls. Linkara fires his gun at Mechakara, but it turns around, dodges the attack and fires back. Linkara fires several more times as the Cybermat comes in and hits Mechakara in the back, knocking it away. It starts away)
Linkara: After him! Don't let him escape!
(The Cybermat leaves while Linkara walks up to the controls and pushes some buttons)
Linkara: Engineering, report.
Nimue: Information: internal communications are offline, due to powerful fluctuations.
Linkara: How's our orbit?
Nimue: Decaying rapidly. We will begin entering the atmosphere in approximately thirty minutes.
Linkara: How can the imbalance be corrected?
Nimue: Manual reorganization of power would correct the imbalance.
Linkara: Except that no one would survive the radiation coming out of it. Are there any other ways of correcting the imbalance?
Nimue: Yes. All would require more time than we have.
Linkara: Keep considering possibilities. I'm gonna finish the review.
Linkara: Because I don't want to die without letting people know how the comic ends?
Nimue: Could they not just obtain the movie?
Linkara: I think if this review has taught us anything, it's that the movie and the comic are not the same thing. (looks into camera) Now, then, where were we?
Linkara (v/o): Khan, a tyrant seeking revenge on Admiral James T. Kirk, has stolen the USS Reliant. With his merry band of people in dirty rags, he has nearly crippled the Enterprise and has taken a device called "Genesis". Genesis has the power to terraform planets, potentially eradicate all life on a world, or just turn them into lands of confusion.
(Cut to a clip of the band Genesis performing "Land of Confusion")
Genesis: This is the world we live in...
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): So far, as an adaptation, it has been a complete disappointment, to say the least. I am not against adapting stories into different mediums.
(A shot of the comic version of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" is displayed)
Linkara (v/o): As I said in the review of the comic adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, changing it to a different medium is a great opportunity to expand on the material or just see it from a new point of view.
(Cut to a cover of the novelization of The Wrath of Khan)
Linkara (v/o): I've even heard that the novelization of Star Trek II is pretty damn good and fills in some plot holes.
(Back to the comic again, sadly)
Linkara (v/o): But this one has had art that was all over the place in quality, dialogue and lines either changed outright or moved to different locations for no reason...
(Cut to a clip of Khan's "Moby-Dick" speech)
Linkara (v/o): ...or just scenes flat-out cut from the story, weakening the effect.
Linkara: But hey, we've got one more issue to go, so maybe there is still something to this. Let's dig into (holds up comic of review for today) "Star Trek II: The Raffle Khan #3".
(Title sequence plays; title card has Genesis' "Land of Confusion" playing; cut to a shot of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): This is probably the weakest of all the covers. It basically amounts to Spock's face and the Vulcan salute pressed against glass. How exciting.
(Cut to two alternative covers)
Linkara (v/o): The alternative covers aren't exactly much to speak of, either: a cast and a drawing from the stomach up with the Reliant and a bunch of pink squares behind him. At this point, I think the creators just gave up on the thing.
(The comic proper begins)
Linkara (v/o): We open over Regula I, where the away team has just beamed back to the ship, and Kirk arrives on the bridge.
Kirk: Battle stations. There isn't time to explain. Suffice to say, Khan–a madman–has the Genesis device and is trying to kill us.
Linkara: (as a crew member) Uh, Captain, we've been here the whole time. Why are you summarizing things we already know?
Linkara (v/o): I love how he feels the need to point out that Khan is a madman.
(A montage of clips of Khan in the movie is shown)
Khan: I'll chase him round the moons of Nibia...
(Cut to Khan and Joachim on the Reliant after being attacked)
Joachim: We must withdraw.
Khan: No! No!
Joachim: Sir, we must!
(Cut back to Khan's "Moby-Dick" speech)
Khan: ...and round the Antares Maelstrom...
(Cut to Khan's other big speech to Kirk)
Khan: (whispering) Buried alive. Buried alive...
(Cut back one more time to Khan's "Moby-Dick" speech)
Khan: ...and round Perdition's flames before I give him up!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Nah, really? Oh, and in case you're wondering, no, that dialogue was not in the movie. Also, Saavik's missing her rank insignia.
(Editor's note: "Correction: Starfleet Badge; not rank insignia")
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the ship is still no match for Reliant in their current state. However, there's a nearby nebula that will disable shields and scramble targeting sensors. As such, if they go in, "the odds will be even."
(Cut to a similar scene in the movie)
Linkara (v/o): In the movie, when the ship approached the Mutara nebula, we got a sense of scale of the ship's operations, that all those little anonymous crew members don't just wait around to be killed on away missions, that they actually do things on the ship and prepare it for battle. It was a really damn good montage.
(Cut back to the matching scene in the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Here, it's two panels: one showing a bunch of crew members in the hallway, and another featuring a torpedo. I'd call it padding, but those two panels couldn't pad a glove, much less this comic. Khan spots the retreating Enterprise.
Khan: There she is. Not so wounded as we were led to believe, is she? So much the better. Follow her.
Linkara: (as Khan) She's breaking the speed limit! We'll give them a ticket! I'M SUCH A MADMAN!
Linkara (v/o): However, as they get in closer to the nebula, they start to slow. Joachim – and yes, I'm sorry I mispronounced it last time; my mistake – realizes that they'd lose their advantage if they followed them in and starts slowing them down. Kirk decides to get Khan to follow them using his own diplomatic style: hailing them and telling them that he's on board.
Kirk: We tried it once your way, Khan. Are you game for a rematch? Khan... I'm laughing at the superior intellect.
Linkara (v/o): Khan takes the insult well.
(Cut to a scene in the movie)
Khan: Full impulse power.
Joachim: No, sir! You have Genesis; you can have whatever you–
Khan: (grabbing him hard) FULL POWER!! DAMN YOU! (shoves Joachim away and walks up to controls)
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, I'm sorry, I once again meant, in the movie he takes it well. In the comic, he yells that while looking like he's going to start crying.
Linkara: (as Khan, about to crying) Full power, damn you! (sobs, then holds up a teddy bear) You're the only one who understands me, Teddy Khan.
Linkara (v/o): The nebula sends out energy discharges at random, which should make the ship shake, but instead just makes little sound effects like "FZZT" and "SKKT" and "ZZZHH". And hey, Spock has a little box that goes "ping". The battle of the Mutara Nebula is another great scene, with terrific music and phenomenal tension. And naturally, it's butchered to hell in this! The two major exchanges of fire are combined into one, making Khan look pretty stupid and ineffectual. Kirk immediately seizes on the point that Khan is intelligent but has never fought in a battle where you can move in three dimensions. As such, the Enterprise falls down and then comes up behind the Reliant...
(Cut to a clip of this very scene in the movie)
Linkara (v/o): ...which, in the movie, just looked badass!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Here, it's a panel with the Reliant, and then BANG! Enterprise just pops in out of nowhere. We have an entire page where the only dialogue is "Fire! Fire!", like they were conducting their battle with Konami LaserScopes. The end result is that the Reliant is blasted to hell and in no shape to continue fighting, but the Enterprise isn't in great shape, either, with a radiation leak forcing them to take what little primary power they restored offline until they can repair it.
(Cut to a scene in the movie in which Khan cradles the dying Joachim in his arms)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and because was mashed together and condensed, we lost the scene where Khan swears to avenge Joachim after he dies on the bridge. So, there's our answer why they cut the "He tasks me" scene from the last issue: they cut the ENTIRE CHARACTER OF JOACHIM!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Khan is still alive, though his face looks like overdone pizza, and he crawls over to the Genesis controls. He sets it on an overload while quoting "Moby-Dick" to the end.
Khan: To the last, I grapple with thee... From Hell's heart I stab at thee. For hate's sake, I spit my last breath... at thee.
Linkara: (as Khan, clutching at his throat, raspy voice) Well, my lungs have been destroyed, so it's more like "I cough my last breath at thee," but you get my point.
Linkara (v/o): Spock detects the energy readings from Reliant, and David Marcus, who is on the bridge for some reason, identifies it.
David: It's the Genesis Wave. It's building up to detonation– 4 minutes.
Linkara: Wait, you rigged your life-giving planet creator so it could explode if you wanted it to? I keep telling you people that scientists are evil, and yet nobody believes me!
Kirk: We'll beam aboard and stop it.
David: You can't.
Linkara: (as Kirk) Don't tell me that, son! I've been convincing computers to stop their evil since long before you were even in diapers.
Linkara (v/o): Kirk calls engineering to get Scotty to hurry it up, but Scotty is passed out from the radiation. Warp power is offline, so they try to make their escape, but it's going to be too slow. Spock slips away in the background, though you wouldn't notice if you weren't looking for it like I was. In engineering, Dr. McCoy is helping with Scotty when he sees Spock heading right for the radiation leak.
McCoy: Are you out of your Vulcan mind? No human can tolerate the level of radiation that's in there.
Spock: As you are fond of observing, Doctor, I am not human.
McCoy: You're not going in there!
Linkara (v/o): And then Spock nerve-pinches him.
Linkara: (as Spock) I'm sorry, Doctor, but since it's likely I won't survive, I need to pose you in a humorous fashion at least once before the end.
Linkara: (as Spock) Remember that you owe me ten bucks, and I expect it back when I get out.
(Footage of the movie is shown again, as Linkara explains)
Linkara (v/o): And here's where we have another one of those head-tilting moments I mentioned the last time. Spock goes into this closed-off section of engineering, opens up a big cylinder in the middle of the room, AND SHOVES HIS HANDS INTO IT! Just what the hell is Spock doing?! I'm showing clips of the movie, because in the comic, he does even less than that!
(Cut to the comic version of this scene)
Linkara (v/o): He just stands over the open cylinder and puts his hands over it like he's trying to warm them up! Hell, at least in the movie version, he took the time to grab some gloves. Not so much in this. I imagine anything glowing as bright as that in the engine room should be MELTING THE FLESH OFF HIS HANDS!!
Linkara: But seriously, what is he doing here?! Is warp plasma like silly putty and (makes molding motions with his hands) you have to put it into the right shape in order to make things work?
(The movie version of this scene is shown again)
Linkara (v/o): Why did he feel the need to do this at all? Is he the only person on the ship qualified in antimatter sculpturing? How is this fixing the ship?! How does he know this will fix the ship?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): But the point is that at the nick of time, main power is restored and the Enterprise goes to warp, the artist once again screwing up the pylons on the ship, this time making them almost completely horizontal. Genesis explodes, taking the Reliant and the Mutara Nebula with it. The explosion fuses the nebula's gases with it and forms a new planet because... uh, science. Kirk calls engineering and congratulates Scotty, but McCoy tells Kirk he needs to get down there. Kirk notices that Spock is gone and rushes to engineering. He desperately tries to get to Spock, but Scotty and McCoy tell him it's too late to do anything for him. And we finally get what this comic has been lacking: quiet panels. Like I said last time, the pacing has been atrocious in this comic, condensing down tons of dialogue into a single panel, so it all just comes rushing at the reader. Here, we finally get a few panels where Kirk quietly approaches the chamber and calls out to Spock. Kirk's best friend gets up and moves over to him and– OH, SWEET MOTHER OF GOD!!! ZOMBIE SPOCK!!!
Spock: (weakly) Ship... out of danger?
Linkara: (horrified) NOT YET IT ISN'T!! THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE HAS JUST BEGUN!!
Linkara (v/o): Dear God, what was the artist thinking?! I mean, yeah, in the movie, he look scarred from the radiation, but he didn't have blank, white eyes, a scowling face, and exposed green flesh! This is gonna replace Scotty's evil smile in my nightmares!
Spock: Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many, outweigh...
Kirk: ...the needs of the few...
Spock: ...or the one.
Linkara: (as Spock) Mind you, I wish their needs didn't involve so much of my skin peeling off.
Spock: I never took the Kobayashi Maru test... until now. What do you think... of my solution?
Linkara: (as Kirk) Well, points for originality, Spock, but I'm afraid I still have to give you an F, because you can't write the post-exam essay.
Spock: I have been... and always shall be... your friend.
Linkara: (as Spock) And if you let me out of here, then you are and always shall be... my dinner.
Spock: Live long... and prosper.
Linkara: (as Spock) Try to do a better job than I did on that first part.
Linkara (v/o): And so, Spock dies, and we cut to his funeral in the torpedo bay, because nothing says "We loved you and respected you as a friend and colleague" quite as much as shoving you into something meant to blow up.
Kirk: We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead.
Linkara: (as Kirk) Afterwards, there will be cake and punch served on the bridge.
Kirk: And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life... the sunrise of a new world– a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish.
Linkara: (as Kirk) Mind you, he didn't really know about that part since he was too busy screaming, "Oh, God, this was a bad idea! Why didn't I put on any gloves?", but I'm sure he knew in his heart.
Kirk: He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one. And we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings.
Linkara: (as Kirk) That's reserved for tomorrow's panel: "The Needs of the Many – Wise Philosophy or Communist Propaganda?"
Kirk: Of my friend I can only say this... Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels... his was the most... human.
(Cut to a clip of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Kirk: Spock, you want to know something? Everybody's human.
Spock: I find that remark... insulting.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Back in his quarters, Kirk discovers that his glasses have broken and tosses them on the table. Yeah, who cares if they're antiques? Just toss them around some more, Jimmy. David comes in, and man, the artwork never really got him quite right. What is that look on his face? It's like he's horrified and disgusted at the same time, even though that has nothing to do with the scene.
David: Saavik was right. You never have faced death.
Kirk: No, not like this. I haven't faced death. I cheated death–tricked my way out of death. I know nothing.
Linkara: And there are so many others you could have looked to for inspiration, Admiral. Arnold Rimmer kneed death in the groin. Bill and Ted beat Death at his own game... (points to camera) Twister.
David: I was wrong about you and I'm sorry.
Kirk: Is that what you came here to say, David?
Linkara: (as Kirk) All you're doing is apologizing, David? (scoffs) Whatever. I once defeated alien invaders from Andromeda by making their leader jealous of me. You should be begging to be associated with me.
Linkara (v/o): However, David also came to admit that he's proud to be his son. There were supposed to be more lines of dialogue to help make Kirk feel better about Spock's death and his first real, major failure he's ever had, but are you surprised that they left it out? And so, our miniseries ends with Kirk giving a log entry as everybody looks out at the Genesis planet.
Kirk: (narrating) Starship Enterprise departing for Ceti Alpha V to pick up the crew of the U.S.S. Reliant.
Linkara: (as Kirk) We anticipate wacky, Odd Couple-style antics, as we have to put two different crews together in the same space.
Kirk: (narrating) All is well.
Linkara: (as Kirk) Well, except for Captain Tyrell, the tortured and murdered scientists, Scotty's nephew, and all the other people who died as a result of all this, but aside from that, (gives a thumbs-up) all is well.
Kirk: (narrating) And yet I can't help wondering about the friend I leave behind. "There are always possibilities," Spock said.
Linkara: (as Kirk) Maybe zombies in Star Trek can work, but we'll have to get Transformers in on it, too. (looking up in thought) Maybe a few other series.
Kirk: (narrating) And if Genesis is indeed life from death, I must return to this place again.
Linkara: (as Kirk) I mean, let's face it, I'm not getting any younger, and neither is the rest of the cast.
Linkara (v/o): And to close Kirk's character arc from how he felt old and worn out, Carol asks him how he feels, and he responds that he feels young. And we have a final shot of Spock's torpedo on the surface of Genesis, and the Star Trek narration put in its proper place.
Linkara: Okay, let's take a step back for a second. If we don't compare it to the movie, and ignore that the movie exists at all, how does it hold up?
Linkara (v/o): It does suffer the problems of some scenes not really having any point, and the final issue then feeling rushed to conclude everything. The artwork is still painful in a lot of areas, from bad facial expressions to the undead coming to consume us all. However, the story does hit a lot of good notes, even if the pacing is way off with them. I argue, however, that we can't look at it on its own merits. It's not supposed to stand on its merits. It's an adaptation. The original purpose behind adapting movies to comics was that home video was not widely available and was expensive, meaning that if you wanted to rewatch the movie, you'd probably have to get a novelization or a comic book. However, that isn't a problem here, because the comic came out 27 years after the film, in a time when movies are readily available for anyone to hunt down and enjoy. As such, we need to look at it strictly as an adaptation of a source material, just like how one would judge an adaptation of a literary work to film and TV, and as an adaptation, it fails hard, cutting out important scenes and changing dialogue for no reason at all. If this had been made in 1982, I wouldn't have as much of a problem with this. After all, they may not have seen the movie or been working on a different script than was actually used in the movie. Hell, the entire thing feels like it was an adaptation straight out of 1982. But the thing is, this was made in 2009, and they should have known better!
Nimue: Engine imbalance corrected. All systems returning to normal.
Linkara: (smiling) They did it! Pass me through to engineering!
Linkara: Liz, Pollo, well done, guys. How'd you do it, anyway?
Iron Liz: (offscreen) I... Pollo corrected the imbalance – manually.
Linkara: (stunned) But... the radiation?
Iron Liz: (offscreen) Linkara... you need to get down here. Hurry!
(Linkara stands there, hesitating, then sprints off to the engine room. There, he sees Liz and, behind a glass door, Pollo. Alarmed, Linkara starts to run over to Pollo, but Liz stops him)
Iron Liz: No! No, there's still radiation in there!
Linkara: (struggling to break free) But he'll die!
Iron Liz: (struggling to hold him back) Linkara? Linkara! LEWIS!! (Linkara stops struggling, after which Liz speaks solemnly) He's dead already.
(Devastated, Linkara slowly walks toward Pollo behind the door. He stares for a long time before speaking)
(Pollo, his back turned to Linkara this whole time, turns toward Linkara and floats over toward him)
Pollo: Repairs... complete...
Linkara: Pollo... did you hear what Liz said?
Pollo: I knew... what I had to do. I stopped the other me.
Linkara: He's not you.
Pollo: You said that you were afraid that I might become like him. I hope this proves otherwise.
Linkara: You didn't have to prove anything. You're nothing like him, Pollo. You're my friend.
(Pollo lowers down to the ground and Linkara does likewise, getting down on his knees and tearing up)
Linkara: Pollo... I'm so sorry.
Pollo: (voice running down) Do not apologize and do not breathe. Cannot continue speaking... (lowers down to the ground as his circuits fail him) Need... concentrate... (voice stops)
Linkara: (taking off his glasses) No...
(Linkara, still sitting down, turns around, feeling miserable at the loss of his friend. Later, Linkara is wearing his normal attire instead of his Star Trek attire as he tries to figure out what to do; Iron Liz walks up to him)
Iron Liz: I'm sorry. We haven't been able to Mechakara.
Linkara: He'll be back. He'll pay.
Iron Liz: Doesn't Pollo have like a backup system or something?
Linkara: He was always against the idea. He always refused to back himself up. He said it's like getting a clone, it's not the original, it's a copy. A different person, he'd say. His entire circuitry is fried beyond repair. All that's left is a shell.
Iron Liz: He contacted me out of the blue. He said I needed to take over for you while you were gone.
Linkara: You accomplished a lot more than that. He always spoke highly of you.
Iron Liz: We monitored all the transmissions from the ship to find Mechakara's teleportation signal, but I can't make heads or tails of it. (hands device to Linkara) Maybe you could take a look at it.
(Linkara examines the device and notices some transmissions on there; he becomes surprised)
Linkara: No... No, he couldn't have.
Iron Liz: What? What is it?
Linkara: That blue bastard!
Iron Liz: Mechakara?
Linkara: (turning to her with joy) Pollo! He downloaded his consciousness!
Iron Liz: What?!
Linkara: It's all right here: a distinct positronic signal coming from the engine room! He has a wireless antenna with incredible range and power. It's how he hacked into Mechakara when we first fought. HE'S STILL ALIVE!!
Iron Liz: But where is he?
Linkara: I don't know, he downloaded into whatever storage space could hold him, but the signal trace fades when he gets to Earth. But that doesn't matter! HE'S ALIVE!! (looks out of the starship toward Earth) Somewhere out there, we'll find him. We'll find him.
(End credits roll)
Pink rectangles, not squares – slip of the tongue.
Another thing they cut? Chekov returning to the bridge to help, meaning in the comic exists solely to get a worm in his ear and then forgotten about.
On a positive note, this comic DID remember to put in the note about them going to pick up the crew of the Reliant, making this adaptation smarter than Silent Hill: Among the Damned.
(Stinger: A clip of Star Trek II is shown: Spock going into the engine room to stop the leak, but McCoy stops him)
McCoy: You're not going in there.
Spock: Perhaps you're right. What is Mr. Scott's condition?
McCoy: (looking toward Scotty) Well, I don't think that he–
(Suddenly, Spock nerve-pinches McCoy, bringing him to his knees)
Spock: I'm sorry, Doctor, I have no time to discuss this logically.