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Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics

Thomas Warkentin
Art: Thomas Warkentin

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi
Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics by Thomas Warkentin
Cover concept by Lorenzo Princi, 23rd June 2013

A hidden little gem, the Star Trek newspaper comics ran from 1979-1983 and have now been released in their entirety over 2 volumes by IDW. Being a Star Trek fan for many years, I have generally avoided non-canon fiction, official and unofficial alike. Suffice to say, they haven't been my cup of Earl Grey so it came as a great when I discovered how good the standard of these short adventures were.

From what I can gather by the look of the USS Enterprise (refit) and the uniforms, the comics are set somewhere in between the first and second feature films, though the appearance of Ilia complicates the timeline. The adventures of the Enterprise crew follow the model of the original series, exploring strange new worlds and civilizations with each adventure.

Unlike the animated series, which continued the original series more directly, targeting a young audience, these comics balance adult themes and action much closer to how it was handled in the original live action series. Some subtle adult jokes are a testament to that, plus the ruthlessness of the Klingons goes further than it ever did in original series. In true Star Trek fashion, the writers don't forget to tie in scientific concepts within their adventures too, which could easily have been ignored in a newspaper comic strip.

Warketin and company do a great job of using the rich Star Trek universe to tell some fun and exciting short adventure stories and can be forgiven some off-canon and continuity quirks considering the medium and time of release (before Star Trek's spin off series and more popular films). The writer's also managed to bring to the foreground some of the characters that didn't get to show their full potential often enough on the series, notably, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura.

The medium itself perhaps causes the only real negative aspects. The artwork, while quite good in general, is locked down into a standard grid layout for quick production purposes and the summery of the last parts plot details each few pages makes it a repetitive read when going at it in one go. This wouldn't have been such a problem during the original run however. Worth a look and a great looking piece for the collection as IDW have done a great job production-wise.