2013, Titan Books
Story: Roberto Orci, Mike Johnson
Pencils: David Messina
Inks: Marina Castelvetro
Colours: Claudia Scarletgothica
Star Trek has more often than not been short-changed when it comes to the franchise’s cross-platform spin-offs. I’ve always felt that this is down to the show’s static, some might even say “talky” nature, which doesn’t usually (there are exceptions) translate into action-packed movies or combat-driven video games. Even less so the typically dynamic comic book layout.
That said, this prequel to the sequel of the reboot, overseen by Into Darkness co-writer Roberto Orci and scripted by Mike Johnson, doesn’t just work, it works well. This is largely down to the stellar artwork; David Messina’s pencils capture the cast without feeling like portrait sketches, Marina Castelvetro’s inks are unusually bold for a book such as this, and Claudia Scarletgothica’s colours bring out the often drab starship surroundings.
The story is interesting too, similar in concept to the Pertwee era Doctor Who adventure ‘The Time Warrior.’ When the Enterprise is shot at from a pre-industrial planet, Kirk breaks the prime directive and takes a small crew down to the planet. They discover that Robert April, the captain of the Enterprise prior to Pike and long presumed dead, has been arming one side of the population with Starfleet weaponry.
Throw in the Klingons and Harry’s Mudd slinky blonde daughter (is Mudd Senior not considered sexy enough for the reboot universe?) and you’ve an enjoyable and fittingly fast-paced read. Planted throughout are numerous nice little details that lead into the J.J. Abrams sequel, and I particularly appreciated the new light shone on Peter Weller’s Alexander Marcus.
Johnson nails the rapport between Kirk and Spock; his dialogue is authentic and true to Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto’s established double act. I find it almost unnerving that despite my unwarranted resilience to the first reboot, and unexpected disdain for Into Darkness, I have no more difficulty imagining Abrams’ alternate universe counterparts than I would the beloved original cast.
All in all, Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness justifies its existence and does actually enhance the overall Into Darkness experience. Which, I guess, automatically places it a notch above almost every other TV/movie tie-in I’ve read in recent years.