Star Trek: Crew One of the things I enjoy about Trek literature is that authors can expand concepts and develop characters beyond what we saw on television. The somewhat inaccurately-titled “Star Trek: Crew”, which is written and drawn by John Byrne, does just that and examines various points in the life of the unnamed first officer from the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage”. The character, played by Majel Barret, is never named during that episode. Captain Christopher Pike refers to her as “number one”, just as Picard would later refer to his first officer by the same title. We learn a little about her during the episode, but like every other character in the pilot apart from Spock, it’s her first and last appearance in Trek. So it’s good to see her life and career explored and expanded upon. The problem with “Crew” is that much of it is a series of almost ‘by the book” Star Trek concepts and plot ideas. Characterization is curiously minimal, replaced by plot and action. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it does leave one not really knowing much more about “number one” once the series has ended than before it began. The stories succeed or fall largely based on how well the plot works, since the characters don’t really stand out as individuals, with one or two exceptions. The art is good, and I would say that the reader’s appreciation of it will likely be based on how they react to John Byrne’s style. Byrne has trouble with drawing actor likenesses (a fact that he himself readily admits and laments), but his distinctive style makes up for a lot of that. Chapter one is a very strong beginning. The not-yet commissioned Enterprise, one of a new line of Constitution class starships, is taken for a shakedown around the solar system by a retiring admiral and a group of cadets, including the never-named future ‘number one’. The Klingons have infiltrated the crew by replacing two of the cadets with spies altered to look like those cadets. The Klingons attempt to steal the new ship and its technology, but are thwarted in their attempts largely by the determined efforts of number one and the admiral, who sacrifices himself to save the ship. Chapter two is a bit confusing in the way the story is structured, going as it does back and forth between events of a few hours ago and the present. An unknown alien ship is attacking the exploratory ship that number one is serving on. She and her fellow crew members have to fight against failing life support and structural safeguards to escape the doomed ship and get to the planet below. It’s the type of action story that would work better on television or on the movie screen with moving imagery and music to really emphasize the danger. Chapter three is the weakest of the story. I had figured out that all the inhabitants of the planet were androids after only a few pages. The best that can be said about this chapter is that it’s a very “by the numbers” Trek adventure that uses an original series convention. A then-contemporary Earth-lookalike colony is discovered with a dark secret at its heart. The story is a bit tired, truth be told. Chapter four is quite a bit more interesting. Number one finally makes it back to the Enterprise, which is in service and under the command of Robert April, a character that appeared in an episode of the animated series and was said to be the first captain of the Enterprise. Christopher Pike makes his first appearance in “Crew” as a commander and the new first officer. The story concerns a group of cloned humans who are conditioned to fight, and who were transported to a planet by Gary Seven. The combination of more familiar characters and a slightly more original premise means this chapter is a few steps up from the previous one. Chapter five concerns disappearing star systems which the Enterprise investigates. Entire solar systems are disappearing and the Enterprise is caught up in the phenomenon and dragged to the end of the universe. And I mean the literal end, in the far future, as the universe is “dying” from entropy. Spock makes his appearance here as an ensign on one of his earliest missions. And we finally find out why number one has constantly refused most promotions and what her career ambitions are. Overall, I appreciate any glimpse into the unknown period between “Enterprise” and TOS. It’s fun to see more of Number One and Pike and to see them working with April and his wife. I like seeing the more ‘primitive’ Starfleet crews, back in the day when they actually went down to planets and felt like they were in danger and didn’t have magical technology to get them out of any jam. But the series doesn’t always live up to its premise. I can’t help but think that a 22 page comic doesn’t allow for both a well-developed storyline as well as developing characters. For instance while we learn that number one is technically knowledgeable, brave and willing to allow others to take credit, we don’t learn much about her as a person. Her beliefs, friends, interests and past are not explored. She ends up as a pretty stock heroic heroine, which is great as far as it goes. I’d just like to have learned more about her. “Crew” is a good but not great Star Trek series. As I said, I’m always glad to see the characters and time period from the original Trek pilot explored. I’d recommend it, with the reservation that it doesn’t always take advantage of the potential that the story’s concept provides, or develop the characters as much as it perhaps should.