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Comic Book Review: STAR TREK #20


Caliburn24 here at the final frontier with a comic to read before you head into the darkness.

IDW has been filling in the continuity of the JJ Abrams re-booted Trekverse with the comic book series under the consultation of Trek screenwriter Roberto Orci and now the writer of previous issues, Mike Johnson, who was also writer on the New52 Supergirl. Johnson also wrote the prequel to the new movie, the limited series Countdown to Darkness. This comic has been doing an excellent job of putting the film’s spin on episodes of the first season; “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (#1-2), “The Galileo Seven” (#3-4), and “Operation: Annihilate” (#5-6), and Return of the Archons” in issues #7-10. Though they did skip my favorites; “Shore Leave”, “Arena” (this was probably saved for the Star Trek video game), and “The Devil in the Dark.” For some reason, they passed up “Space Seed” that introduces Khan, hmm. The Second Season episodes include the Tribbles in issue #11-12 and “Mirror Mirror” is in #15-16. I hope they get to “Metamorphosis”, “Amok Time” (where Spock gets some pon farr with T’Pol), and “Assignment: Earth.” The comic series also gives us some peeks to character meetings like the small alien, Keenser, whose story is one of the best in issue #14.

Okay, so now we get issue #20, “Red Level Down”, with the Starfleet symbol showing a photo cover of Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Sulu (John Cho). The issue is written by Ryan Parrott with art by Claudia Balboni and Luca Lamberti. It begins with the base where we first saw the Enterprise. Some introduction is made about Starfleet before we get a series of panels that shows members of Red Squad. At Starfleet Academy, the cadets sound off in their black uniforms with red piping. Sulu is there in his red shirt. The Academy is getting ready for Federation Day and the blond-haired, female leader of Red Squad, McKenna, wants Sulu to go on a final task to earn his place on Red Squad which will ensure his path to becoming captain. At Muir Woods, the cadets are running and McKenna trips up Chekov. He is helped up by cadet Jim Kirk. Sulu is talking with his friend, David, at the shuttle bay. David convinces Sulu not to go through the Red Squad’s task.

Kirk talks to Chekov at his Academy dorm. He has Chekov working on a program to fake a simulation ship’s shields are up. This is a nod to the Kobayashi Maru program shown in Wrath of Khan and Kirk’s actual testing in the 2009 film. Chekov is also planning on transporting Belzodian Fleas while McKenna is on stage. Kirk relates a story to Chekov about a kid who tormented him and he got his revenge, but it was bittersweet. They are interrupted by the green woman, Gailia, who had a brief appearance in the film as an Orion cadet. Federation Day, the cadets are assembled to hear from Tyler Perry, oops, Admiral Richard Barnett. The artists are able to capture the likenesses of the actors. His message about the honor of Federation is disregarded by McKenna. She is introduced as Starfleet shuttles are about to fly by. Chekov cancels the transport of the fleas. Sulu tells David that he is refusing the buzzing of the crowd. David takes this as his chance and dives his shuttle down.

David’s shuttle engines stall and crashes into a tower. Chekov sees this and starts running to push McKenna out of the way of the tower. Sulu has David hit his anti grav thrusters on the shuttle. He rams his shuttle to knock David’s ship away and David re-starts his engines. Two weeks later, McKenna tells Sulu that he is accepted into Red Squad. He refuses, nice smirk expression by the artist. Sulu is angry that the Red Squad set up his friend David against him so he says he will be happy to be a helmsman. We get a later scene, months later, aboard the Enterprise. Sulu talks to Chekov and tells him that McKenna has gotten lungworm. They introduce theirselves as they take the Enterprise into warp. This issue has a nice theme of revenge, bullying, and friendship worthy of Trek.

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