|I don’t even need to come up with a Pop Christian reading. Just look at it.|
It’s important not to understate the importance of the launch of DC’s first Star Trek comic line. For the entirety of its existence up to this point (and not counting the handful of US and UK newspaper comic strips that cropped up in the 1970s), Star Trek had been represented in sequential art form by Gold Key, a company basically run by about four people and with the somewhat dubious reputation of putting out all the licensed tie-in stuff simply to cash in on the brands of the day, regardless of quality (though they did have the rights to distribute Carl Bark’s Duck stories in the US and gave Mark Evanier one of his first writing gigs on their Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! book, which has to count for something). And while there were some genuine gems in the Gold Key series, there is something of a sense that this was a book that existed pretty much because it had to and oftentimes felt like just another product in the Star Trek brand.
This is not to say DC’s book is any less of a product or a tie-in, it absolutely is, but the climate is a little bit different in 1984 than it was in 1967. While Gold Key was attempting to promote a show that first wasn’t exactly setting the Nielson ratings ablaze, and then technically didn’t even exist as it puttered around in syndicated reruns for the next ten years. DC is coasting off of a successful movie and a wildly successful movie and launches right when a third movie is about to premier (a fact which is not without its problems, as I’ll talk about later). With Star Trek big business at the box office now, Paramount began to clamp down on their tie-in line and invoked a much stricter sense of quality control over what went out under the Star Trek name, and that shows here, for better and for worse.
The first thing that’s noticeable about this line is that it overtly follows the events of the last movie. Previous Star Trek comic stories have been standalone affairs that simply evoked the structure of the TV series without directly referencing onscreen events (a few nods in the Gold Key stories Doug Drexler worked on aside). This story, however, is explicitly designed to fit in with established canon, which is interesting as Star Trek doesn’t actually have an established canon yet, considering Gene Roddenberry and Richard Arnold wouldn’t give their famous interview until the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is likely due in part to the book’s editor and head writer, Mike W. Barr, who is a veteran comics writer and first generation Star Trek fan, and this issue marks some of his earliest Trek comic work. This introduces a new sort of status quo for Star Trek comics: From here on out, as long as new Star Trek is being filmed, the comics will forever be playing catch-up and trying to slot themselves into the gaps between “canon” stories, with mixed levels of success.…