Star Trek #1
February 2, 2009
To boldly and shamelessly steal where no one has stolen before!
Linkara: (seated on his Futon) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. I'm proud to say that I'm a Star Trek fan, and as we continue to approach the day when the new prequel film comes, we must also say a fond farewell to Ricardo Montalban, who passed away a few weeks ago. And Star Trek fans like me will always remember him in one particular role...
(Cut to footage of Khan, Montalban's character in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
Khan: (quoting Moby Dick) I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round perdition's flames before I give him up!
Linkara (v/o): Star Trek II was a godsend after the dull special effects fest that was Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The story is Shakespearean in its writing, dealing with themes of age, loss, revenge and sacrifice. Although, a lot of people also tend to remember one particular thing about it.
Kirk (William Shatner): KHAAAAAAAN!!
Linkara: Yeah, that's the one. But what people also forget is what inspired Kirk to utter his immortal scream.
(Cut to footage of the scene in question)
Khan: I've done far worse than kill you. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. (Linkara stares, open-mouthed) I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity (Linkara is seen cowering on the floor) in the center of a dead planet... buried alive! Buried alive...!
Linkara: (seated again) Damn. In any case, Star Trek isn't a stranger to comics, having runs with almost every major publisher, as well as several independents. So why this one? Well, we'll find out soon enough. So let's dig into (holds up comic of review) "Star Trek #1".
(The cover of the comic is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Before we get to the cover itself, what we see here is one of the essential flaws of the comic: it came out in February of 1984. That's almost two years after Star Trek II came out, so while it was still, of course, a popular film, the audience had already moved on by this point in anticipating other things. Like what, you ask? Oh, I don't know, how about... Star Trek III!
(The poster for this film is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, this comic came out a mere four months before Star Trek III came out, and this comic follows up on events from Wrath of Khan. But Star Trek III clearly takes place right after Star Trek II, making all of the events featured here completely and utterly not canon!
Linkara: And that's fine. Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek's creator, went on record long ago saying that the only real continuity of the series was the live-action shows and movies. But what incentive does a reader have in investing in a comic that in a few short months is going to be someting that didn't really happen?!
Linkara (v/o): Now let's get on to the cover itself. It's busy, and annoyingly so. Having the main cast on the cover in their bridge positions is neat, but, of course, they're smushed together to fit everyone within the dimensions of the page. And then we have these random blue lines shooting out of Kirk's head. Who knew Shatner's toupee could shoot death rays? Actually, taking a closer, it looks like it's supposed to be the Enterprise's reflector dish, although why it's shooting out death rays is anyone's guess. Plus, it's hard to tell under all that that it even is the Enterprise.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open to Kirk's standard narration for the opening of the series. I'm skipping it here, since, frankly, if you don't know the "Space, the final frontier" thing, where have you been for the last forty years? The comic actually opens on the edge of the neutral zone, where the starship Gallant is patrolling the area, and the Gallant itself looks like a humpback whale from the side. Foreshadowing of Star Trek IV or just poor aesthetics in the future? (dramatic voice) You make the call! (normal again) The Captain's Log points out there have been numerous Klingon violations of the neutral zone lately. Oh, and the captain of the mighty Federation starship Gallant? His name is Captain Bearclaw!
Linkara: (dramatic voice) Get Lieutenant Fudgicle up here, (?) Bagel Bits!
Linkara (v/o): A crew member reports seeing an energy wave. Before they can learn any more, the ship is instantly attacked by Klingons. And right here, we see why it's kind of hard to pull off Star Trek in comic form: supposedly, the Klingons are shooting full phasers here, but the artwork suggests that the Gallant is radiating off energy. And the Klingon ships? They're all crowded together, too on top of each other. Come on, Klingons! I know you're paid by the panel time, but could you please scoot over?! Of course, they destroy the Gallant, but the ship manages to shoot off their log buoy before they get blasted. On the bridge of one of the Klingon ships, the crew celebrates. Well, most of them, anyway. One lone Klingon, however, is horrified by the fact that they just blew up, you know, their enemy.
Klingon: Gods, those poor souls--!
Linkara: (annoyed) Oh, come on! You're a Klingon! You're a freaking warrior culture! At least say, "That was no honorable way to die," or some crap like that! I mean, what would you–
Linkara: Hey, I thought I turned you off!
Linkara (v/o): Okay, in fairness, it wasn't until a few years later, on The Next Generation, when the Klingons were developed as a warrior society, all about honor and loyalty in battle, but seriously, who is this wussy? For crying out loud, if you didn't expect to kill people, maybe you shouldn't have taken a job on a warship! Okay, we switch over to the Enterprise. Kirk's log says that they've returned to Earth, but I guess they were using old stock footage of the ship, because even with stylization, that doesn't look anything like Earth.
Kirk: (narrating) Captain's Log, Stardate 8145.3: Dr. Carol Marcus and Dr. David Marcus... my son... have returned to the Regula 1 Base to continue their work...
Linkara: (as Kirk) Continue their work alone with all the dead bodies still lying on the station...
Linkara: Hey! I'm only gonna give you one warning!
Kirk: (narrating) The Enterprise has returned to Earth... where I have requested an audience with Starfleet Grand Admiral Stephen Turner, concerning a matter of the gravest personal importance.
Linkara: (as Kirk) What do you mean, Starfleet's not going to reimburse me for my ripped shirts anymore?
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Kirk is talking to the Grand Admiral how he would like to take command of the Enterprise since Spock is dead.
Grand Admiral: We've taken her away from you twice, and you've gotten her back twice. I think that's lesson enough even for a Grand Admiral.
Linkara: Yeah, I mean, why would we want orders to actually be followed? I mean, (scoffs) what kind of sense does that make?
Linkara (v/o): Kirk calls the ship to tell them of the good news.
Kirk: Well, Mr. Sulu, let's just say... that I was able to make Old Man Turner see things my way!
Linkara (v/o): "Old Man Turner"? When did this become a 1950s teenage sitcom?
Kirk: Beam me aboard and inform the crew!
Sulu: They already know, sir! I patched you through the ship!
Linkara: (as Kirk) Well, then, while I've got them, let me tell you about the incredible offers from Priceline.com.
McCoy: You'll need someone to keep you out of trouble, Jim! Request assignment as medical officer!
Kirk: Request accepted, Doctor!
Scotty: The Engine Room's fully operational again, sir. I'd like t' tag along and keep her that way!
Kirk: My thoughts exactly, Mr. Scott!
Linkara: Is he gonna be going through the entire crew like this? (as Ensign Stevens) Hello, I'm Ensign Stevens, and I'm gonna stay, too. (as Kirk) Great to have you aboard, Ensign. (as Lieutenant Redmond) I'm Lieut. Redmond, and I'm going to be joining you, too. (as Kirk) Um, yes, that's great. (as Lieut. Fisher) I'm Lieut. Fisher, sir, and I– (as Kirk) Yeah, yeah, I'm not going to remember all your names.
Saavik: All stations report secure, sir.
Kirk: Thank you, Mr. Saavik! Prepare to leave orbit as soon as I'm aboard!
Linkara: (as Saavik) But we were gonna have shore leave, sir. (as Kirk) Nope, there's no time for that. (as Saavik) And our ship's pretty damaged from Wrath of Khan. (as Kirk) Second star to the right and straight on till morning.
Linkara (v/o): Okay, Kirk reports that they're en route to section 14 of the Gamma Hydra system. Hmm, there's something familiar about that.
(Cut to a clip of the concurrent scene from Star Trek II)
Saavik: Starship Enterprise on training mission to Gamma Hydra, section 14.
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): The Enterprise goes to warp... I think. Either that or they've suddenly become a part of the Reading Rainbow logo.
Kirk: (narrating) Dr. McCoy was right, I was hiding behind rules and regulations. But now, back on the Enterprise where I belong, I feel invigorated... alive... I feel... young!
Linkara (v/o): You know, it's almost like I've heard that somewhere before.
(Cut to the familiar scene from Star Trek II)
McCoy: You are hiding. Hiding behind rules and regulations.
(Cut to another scene)
Kirk: I feel young.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): In his quarters, Kirk is reading from "A Tale of Two Cities" when Saavik tells him they're approaching the Neutral Zone. Kirk makes a thrilling speech to his crew members... for some reason.
Kirk: This is the Captain. Many of the current Enterprise crew have served under me before... and many times we've been through death and life together...
Linkara (v/o): Geeze, there's that nagging feeling again that I've heard that somewhere before. Someplace better than this, maybe?
(Cut to a clip of the concurrent scene in the movie)
Kirk: Yes, we've been through death and life together.
(Back to the comic again)
McCoy: More life than death, thank heaven...
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, I love how McCoy says that with the no-doubt dead redshirt behind him.
Kirk: ...But it is not those "old hands" that this message is directed, but rather, to the newer crewmen. I was once in your position...
Linkara: (as Kirk) ...not knowing which airline service to use.
Kirk: ...I know the doubts and fears you must now feel. But the Enterprise crew has never let me down, and I am confident you never will.
Linkara: (as Kirk) Oh, except for that one time where you all got high on spores and left me alone on the ship. Thanks for that, by the way.
Linkara (v/o): A crew member named Bryce leaves the mess hall to start her shift, but it turns out Captain Bearclaw's son now serves on the Enterprise. Apparently, Bryce's father also was aboard the Gallant.
Redshirt: (to Bryce) And he'd still be alive if your father had done his job!
Linkara (v/o): And then Bearclaw proceeds to slap her!
Linkara: (as Redshirt; dopey voice) Your father killed my father, so, like, (makes slapping motion) I slap you!
Linkara (v/o): And our bizarre little fight scene continues, with Bryce kicking Bearclaw in the stomach hard enough to send him flying! Ah, the brave crew of the starship Enterprise; some get into fights and others don't try to separate them or anything. Coincidentally enough, Kirk is walking past the scene, and Bearclaw gets knocked into him.
Kirk: Is it your intention to sit out this tour on my lap, Ensign?
Linkara: (as Bearclaw) Is that an invitation, Captain?
Linkara (v/o): He demands to know who started it, and they both respond that they don't know. Wait a second, is this ripping off that scene from The Trouble With Tribbles? No, no, they couldn't be so creatively bankrupt to– Wait a second, the clan captain was Koloth, wasn't it? Captain Koloth from The Trouble With Tribbles! So, not satisfied with ripping off Star Trek II for inspiration, they decided to dig into the actual TV series for material?! Anyway, Kirk chews them out, saying they should all be judged as individuals and blah, blah, blah, and they go to the bridge. Saavik reports no sign of Klingon vessels and recommends they raise shields just to play it safe. Kirk refuses, however, saying he wants to lure the Klingons out.
Linkara: (smiling sarcastically) Yeah, it's not as if ignoring Saavik's recommendations for raising shields has ever hurt you before, right?
(A scene from Star Trek II is shown, showing a Klingon ship attacking the Enterprise, resulting in a red condition alert)
Linkara: Forget I said anything. Let's just keep Star Trek II separate from the rest of this comic.
Linkara (v/o): The Klingons see the Enterprise approaching, and Koloth points out how this is his chance for revenge. Our old pal Conan the Pansy once again thinks about how awful it will be, and decides to send a warning to the Enterprise.
Linkara: Yeah, betray your people and your way of life to your sworn enemy, who you're expressing pity for for no adequately-explained reason. Wait, what?
Linkara (v/o): The Klingon ships suddenly appear around the Enterprise, but they raise their shields before they take too much damage. So, for the next two pages, we get this pattern: the Klingon ships appear and fire, Scotty says they can't take much more, they disappear, and lather, rinse, repeat. During this, we see another failure of trying to transition a science-fiction series that is fairly unique and recognizable ship design into comic form. The Klingon vessels only resemble the D7-class warships. Other times, the wings have been flattened out or just completely off-model. When the artist has room to draw the ships, they look comped enough, even though the dimensions are distorted, but when they have these squished panels and try to cram the ships together, they can't keep the ships straight. Also, in a foolish attempt at photo realism, we also get this shot of Kirk as inked by Rob Liefeld, even though it doesn't match the rest of the comic's art. Anyway, Kirk realizes the Klingons' attack strategy and blows away some of their ships.
Kirk: (narrating) Captain's Log, Supplemental: My strategy was successful. The Klingons, thinking us defeated, continue their synchronized attack... leaving themselves open to a synchronized attack of my own!
Linkara: (as Kirk) Captain's Log, Addendum: Damn, I'm good. (?)
Linkara (v/o): Back on Koloth's ship, he's less than pleased by this turn of events.
Koloth: Damn that Kirk! He is a sorcerer!
Linkara (v/o): So, Kirk is Gandalf the Grey to the Klingons?
Saavik: Two ships have self-destructed, two ships vanishing, sir!
Linkara (v/o): Self-destructed?! You fired on them and destroyed them! They didn't do anything to themselves! Kirk, deciding to be a dick, chews out Saavik for not knowing how the Klingon ships are appearing and disappearing. He orders a senior staff meeting in fifteen minutes, but then we cut to sickbay, where Dr. McCoy is doing what he does best in any episode of Star Trek: be grouchy. Saavik stops by to talk to him, explaining that Kirk is being mean to her because he misses Spock. All McCoy can say is she'll just have to deal with it until Kirk adjusts.
Linkara: So, I suddenly realized why they've been cribbing so much from Star Trek II: their own scenes are dull and pointless!
Linkara (v/o): Of course, despite McCoy's lame advice for Saavik, he takes it upon himself to visit Kirk in his quarters... where he's changing uniform for some reason. Didn't he say that the meeting was in fifteen minutes? How come Saavik has time to go have a chat with McCoy, then Kirk to change his clothes, and then have another talk with McCoy? Anyway, McCoy has dialed up his cranky meter to fifty, since now he's yelling at Kirk.
McCoy: Jim, what the hell's going on here?
Linkara: (as McCoy) Why did Paramount give the okay to this thing?
Linkara (v/o): Okay, blah, blah, Saavik's not Spock, and Kirk has to deal with that fact. Call back to Kirk's earlier chewing out and treating people like individuals. Yeah, we get it; can you MOVE ON?! Okay, finally, we get to our meeting, which now necessitates a new start date. I guess by fifteen minutes, Kirk meant three days from now. They talk about what could possibly be causing the ships to appear and disappear. Kirk suggests a cloaking device, but Scotty immediately shoots that down.
Scotty: No, sir, we cracked that wide open years ago.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, right, Scotty, it's not like you'll be seeing another cloaking device in Star Trek III or anything.
Linkara: (pointing his gun offscreen) WHAT DID I SAY?! WHAT DID I SAY?!?
Linkara (v/o): Saavik says they detected a strange energy wave, and Scotty identifies it as a wormhole. If the Klingons found a way to stabilize it, that means they could enter and exit any time they wanted. Sadly, the Enterprise is too underpowered to enter any such wormhole, but Scotty thinks he can jury-rig the transporter or shuttle and send people into it.
Linkara: Sure, just send in a few random crew members into something that you can only faintly detect and aren't even certain where they'll end up or in what shape they'll be in after they exit. (gives a thumbs-up) Makes perfect sense!
Linkara (v/o): Of course, Kirk wants to strike back at the Klingons right away, ordering Scotty to deliberately create an imbalance in the engines. I could point out that that's not how wormholes are supposed to be made, but whatever, let's just get on with it. Saavik requests to come along, too, but Kirk says she's already being ordered to go along. McCoy thinks to himself...
McCoy: (thinking) Good boy, Jim!
Linkara (v/o): Even though I'm not exactly certain why this suddenly means he's going to stop being a jerk to her. Kirk also orders Bryce along. Why? Um... um... Er, anyway, they walk to the transporter room where the engineers are already working on it. For no particular reason, Kirk brings up that Bryce's psychological profile says that she "remains calm under extreme pressure". Yeah, which explains why she was stuttering only three panels ago, and why her reaction to getting slapped is to kick a guy five feet in the air! Kirk also tells Uhura to call the Council of the Organians. Why? It's something to do with the original series, and it doesn't matter. In fact, none of this matters!
Linkara: (irritably) Why am I still reading this?! It's a black hole of blandness, sucking in anything resembling interesting character development, and the tiny ounces that we get just feel forced!
Linkara (v/o): Blah, blah, blah, technobabble, nothing exciting, multimodal reflection sorting, people are beamed away in spacesuits, and FINALLY, last page! Kirk and Bryce rematerialize in space, and we discover the shocking secret of what's on the other end of the wormhole!
Kirk: It's a Klingon space station, Bryce... with enough power to destroy the Enterprise-- and anything else they choose! (a dramatic sting is heard)
Linkara: That's it? A space station capable of destroying anything they choose? (leans in close to camera) Kirk, I hate to break it to you, but the reason that they call it a (makes "finger quotes") "station", is because IT'S STATIONARY!!! IT DOESN'T MOVE, SO IT CAN'T REALLY ATTACK ANYTHING, CAN IT?!? (holds up comic) This comic sucks!
Linkara (v/o): It's got continuity issues up the wazoo, the artwork is dull and crowded, and the writing is snatched away by other, better material!
Linkara: I mean, what could they possibly hope to achieve by ripping off Star Trek II? I mean, why would they–
(Suddenly, he gets interrupted by a beeping sound. He reaches into his coat, pulls out a Nintendo DS, and opens it up. It makes beeping sounds as he runs it over the comic)
Linkara: (imitating Kirk) My God. The tricorder function of my Nintendo DS is picking up some strange neutrino emissions from this comic. The particles are... organic in nature. My God! This comic is actually becoming... alive!
(Suddenly, the comic actually starts speaking!)
Star Trek comic: Yes, Linkara.
(Linkara stares, open-mouthed with shocked)
(Linkara tosses comic away, but to his surprise, it stops in mid-air and floats there)
Star Trek comic: I have been draining the life from Star Trek II, (Linkara stares) feasting off of its quality. Now I'll drain even your life force, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!
Linkara: You're going down!
(The comic flies in Linkara's face and they both struggle, yelling inaudibly. Linkara falls on the ground and briefly tosses the comic in the air. Finally, he pulls the comic away from himself and aims his gun at it)
Comic: You can't hurt me with that thing. There's not even any way of loading it!
(Smiling, Linkara fires his gun; a red spot flies at the comic, hitting it and knocking it down. Linkara walks up to the fallen comic and stands over it. He aims his gun down at it)
Comic: But how?! You have to explain it!
Linkara: (smugly) Explain it? It's magic. I don't have to explain it.
(With that, Linkara fires his gun at the comic. A red flash fills up the screen, then fades into black; offscreen, the sounds of explosions are heard. Then Linkara struggles back to his Futon, his glasses missing and the right side of his face bloodied. He looks up, blinking his eyes)
Linkara: (imitating Khan) No... no you can't get away. From hell's heart, I stab at thee... For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee... (normal again) See? Even I can do it.
Rest in peace, Ricardo Montalban, 1920 - 2009