Star Trek: Crew - trade paperback

Discussion in 'Comic Books and Graphic Novels' started by Andersonh1, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Man, I've been here a LONG time Veteran

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    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.
     
  2. Infosaur

    Infosaur Well-Known Member

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    I dissagree, I think the 800# gorilla in the room was that Bryne had to tell a good story and never really give #1 a name. The running gag is how they dance around it.

    You do see that (Majel) is actually probably one of the best examples of a Starfleet Officer, she's smart, tough, clever, and almost comicly modest. Frankly you would think an officer of this calibur would be on every starfleet recruiting poster of the era. And that's the 'joke' of the story.

    Also I've loved reading the "Bryne-verse" even if it puts a few charachters in the wrong place at the wrong time, since no one else at Paramount seems to give a damn about cannon anymore, why not play up the power struggles between the "three nations"? And frankly we really never saw much of Romulan internal politics untill late in TNG anyway.

    And boy I could read Pike era stuff all day long, with the non-cartoon looking uniforms, the retro-style ships, and (in an old comic called Star Trek: Early Voyages) some Ensign Colt yumminess.

    If you're a fan of the Cage this is a must read. If you like the greater universe (prior to the reboot) and like to see a pretty cool pre-Kirk tale, why not? And if you like retro-TV like MadMen, try to picture this book done with 50's era SFX (especally the Stepford town) good for a laugh.

    4/5
     
  3. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Man, I've been here a LONG time Veteran

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    Have you read any of Byrne's Romulan stories? I'm assuming you have, given a couple of your comments. I picked up the collected trade last week, and Number One has a prominent role in the last few chapters. She's been promoted to Commodore at that point, and is in commmand of the Yorktown.

    I'm all for more stories told during Pike's time as captain. I really need to pick up the Early Voyages omnibus that IDW put out. It collects that entire series, I believe.
     
  4. Infosaur

    Infosaur Well-Known Member

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    Yeah Romulan Schizm and,,, well the one before that (can't remember the name) very cool reads. Reminds me of 70's marvel comics.

    I like how he's trying to tie the stories together, the various Romulan Emperors, and the founding of a relationship between the Romulan & Klingon empires (because they are threatend by the emergence of the Federation) makes for interesting reading.

    I can't remember who had the licence for ST:The Early Voyages, but there were a few cool books back then: Starfleet Academy (Nog and his crew) and I think there was a Sulu/Excelcior book too. I'm pretty sure it wasn't Marvel or DC though.

    Damn, Pava (the andorian) was hot too. Got naked to make Nog feel "at home" but Nog said something stupid and got his ass kicked. She was not one to mess with,,, but it's kinda hard to forget someone who's first apperance is nude.
     
  5. Infosaur

    Infosaur Well-Known Member

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    Well I'll be,,, it WAS a marvel book.

    And by coincedence it was on the homepage of Memory-Beta.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Andersonh1

    Andersonh1 Man, I've been here a LONG time Veteran

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    According to the trade, his Romulans series consisted of one of the Alien: Spotlight issues, a 2-parter called the Hollow Crown, and a three-parter called Schism. The trade adds in a short adaptation of the television episode "Balance of Terror" as well.

    I remember that. I bought the first couple of issues, and I'm not sure why I dropped it after that. Finances probably, since I was in college at the time. I should still have that issue somewhere, but I can't find it.
     
  7. Infosaur

    Infosaur Well-Known Member

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    according to Memory Beta (the ST wiki) they only lasted about 17 issues, and were dropped rather abruptly.

    No explanation as to why though.

    Some of the writers involved in trek-dom consider it the most extensive "Pike-verse" media out there. And at least one charachter was used later on. (I was also happy to see Pava was re-used in the Titan series)

    Hokey though it is, you also might want to check out the time travel story arc towards the end of that series run. Yeoman Colt is flung into the future (movie era) and some how this results in Kirk never becoming captain of the Enterprise. Kind of a unique twist on ST3 & 4 with Kirk & Scotty being criminal smugglers and Pike commanding the Movie era Enterprise.
     

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