Mike Johnson

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Star Trek 35 (July 2014)

Star Trek #35

I’m having a hard time trying to figure out how to talk about this issue of Star Trek. Not because the comic is all of a sudden doing well or good–and not because new artist Tony Shasteen is doing anything special–but because the comic has finally given in to itself.

Here we have the new Star Trek franchise crossing over to the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” franchise and, if one can guess from the cliffhanger, its spin-offs. In other words, Star Trek the comic has become the desperate cash grab it was always meant to be.

This issue has Jean-Luc Picard in a small role. Johnson writes him great. You can hear Patrick Stewart. Similarly, Johnson writes Q great and he also writes the regular cast better than his usual too. He’s finally excited; he’s not updating something old.

Sadly, Shasteen’s photo-referenced, static, nonsense art can’t match the enthusiasm.

B- 

CREDITS

The Q Gambit, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Tony Shasteen; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 34 (June 2014)

Star Trek #34

There's a goofy aspect to this issue because there's got to be, given Johnson's storyline. It's a rip-off of some other things, with a couple odd Jurassic Park homages thrown in, but it's not a terrible story. Johnson gives Kirk a lot to do.

But Corroney's art doesn't help things. He does fine with the flashbacks to the 1970s. The art on that single page flashback is good. But then, once in Star Trek time, he falls apart. He spends too much time referencing photos of the actors playing the cast–which is hilarious for Bones, who Johnson writes wonderfully like the original series–and not enough time coming up with a style.

There's an alien monster involved with the story and Corroney turns it into a goofy purple thing. It's not scary or impressive or anything, it's just goofy.

It's nice to see Johnson trying for an original (if derivative) story.

C 

CREDITS

Lost Apollo, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; penciller, Joe Corroney; inkers, Corroney, Victor Moya and Rob Doan; colorist, Sakti Yuwono; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 33 (May 2014)

Star Trek #33

I read this entire issue without paying attention to the story arc title on the cover. I'm glad I ignored it.

Here's the problem–the art. I wonder how Joe Corroney's art would be if he didn't have to mess around with all the actors' faces. He doesn't do them well, either, so there's no real point to it. The expressions are just terrible because the mouths can't move too much or it won't look like whatever photo he was referencing.

Bad, bad choice. On IDW's part, not on Corroney's.

Still, it's a fun issue. Johnson just writes a little episode where the crew is excited to get off the ship. It's got elements of "This Side of Paradise," some actual personality from Kirk, an ill-advised Return of the Jedi nod. In short, it's exactly what a Star Trek comic should be.

Except for the art, which is just unforgivably misguided.

B- 

CREDITS

Lost Apollo, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; penciller, Joe Corroney; inkers, Corroney, Victor Moya and Rob Doan; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 32 (April 2014)

Star Trek #32

Lots of drama this issue. There’s some comedy too, from McCoy and Scotty, but there’s also running around.

Last issue the Enterprise became sentient and grew itself a humanoid body. This issue… well, let’s see, Johnson seems to rip off sections from Star Trek: The Motion Picture and maybe one of the “Next Generation” movie. Not doing connections to them or tie-ins, just ripping off details. The comic’s so disconnected, it doesn’t matter much.

Johnson refuses the let Kirk be the main character and his focus on the events surrounding this android make the issue read too fast. Johnson is cutting from scene to scene without any room for the reader to breath or enjoy.

Farjar’s art is some of his best on the series. Well, some of it. Some of it is really lame, but some of it isn’t bad.

Star Trek remains a series of unfulfilled potential.

C 

CREDITS

I, Enterprise, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; penciller, Erfan Fajar; inkers, Fajar and Yulian Ardhi; colorists, Sakti Yuwono and Ifansyah Noor; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 31 (March 2014)

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This issue feels very much like a Star Wars approach to Trek. Not storytelling, but franchise stuff. Apparently there's a new character in the Into Darkness movie who has no memorable lines and isn't a familiar actor, but he's got an amazing story and the comic gets to reveal it.

It feels like when you only knew a Return of the Jedi character's story because of the fan club and action figure exclusives.

This new character is a living computer, which will undoubtedly some day make the Abrams continuity Data feel very not special. The issue opens with Johnson writing from his perspective, then moves into a flashback to explain things.

The flashback stuff isn't bad until it becomes clear where the story's going. For about five pages, the comic just feels like a decent "Star Trek" episode.

And I think Fajar's art has improved a little. A little helps.

C 

CREDITS

I, Enterprise, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Yuwono; letterer, Robbie Robbins; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 30 (February 2014)

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Besides Liang’s art problems–she can’t make the photo-referencing look good and the female McCoy is a disaster–and an illogical cameo, this issue of Star Trek has got to be the best in the series so far.

Johnson’s got a lot of easy jokes, except they’re still honest jokes, so he can get away with all of them. He’s also unconcerned with written–though visual ones get through–nods to the original series. The characters, confronted with their gender opposites, are fully defined. I only wish it were the start of an arc where Johnson traded Chekhov for her female counterpart. She’s less annoying.

A lot of the art is fine. Liang still does well with most of the female characters (except regular Uhura, of course) and she has positive, playful vibe to her work.

Johnson writes a bunch of good scenes.

The issue’s a very successful outing.

B+ 

CREDITS

Parallel Lives, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Yasmin Liang; colorist, Zac Atkinson; letterer, Gilberto Lazcano; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 29 (January 2014)

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All it takes for a great Star Trek is a gimmick. And I don’t want to give away the gimmick, so it’ll be a little difficult to talk about. The gimmick alone makes for a fun comic, but somehow Johnson manages to find all these great insights into the characters through the gimmick.

Some of there insights are slight and for fun, but he’s got one profound one. Loved it. Maybe even teared up a little.

Johnson gets to the story at the end and it’s not bad–running with this gimmick actually would be a better series than the regular one–but it’s disappointing it’s ending soon.

The art helps a lot. Until the likenesses become important, Yasmin Liang’s art is rather strong. It’s somewhat cartoonish, but that tone doesn’t hurt Johnson’s script at all. Liang also pays attention to expressions, which is important.

It’s a shockingly good issue.

B+ 

CREDITS

Parallel Lives, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Yasmin Liang; colorist, Zac Atkinson; letterer, Gilberto Lazcano; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 28 (December 2013)

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A couple fast observations about Star Trek, in general. First off, Johnson has no confidence writing Kirk. A lot of the other characters have a “voice,” except maybe Chekhov who Johnson just uses absurd spellings to show the Russian accent, but at least Spock and McCoy feel like characters. Johnson’s lost his handle on Kirk. He just spouts off when he needs to profound; also, Johnson’s playing him way too reliable. Spock’s the rebel here.

Second… that damn Fajar art. It’s all photo-referenced for the people, then weak space battles between ships with terrible designs. Maybe it’s just the new all Enterprise. It’s made to be visual, not functional (even as a model). Maybe it doesn’t translate. But the static people? Fajar needs to liven things up. Or IDW just needs to get a regular comic book artist.

Still, it’s inoffensive if talky. It’s hollow licensed malarky after all.

C 

CREDITS

The Khitomer Conflict, Part Four; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorist, Beny Maulana; letterer, Gilberto Lazcano; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 27 (November 2013)

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It’s too bad Fajar is still on the art for this series. Johnson’s writing–and his post-Star Trek 2 plotting–is getting fairly entertaining and the bad art really just kills the issue’s momentum.

There are some rather good parts with Kirk facing off with the bad guys, Spock and McCoy bickering… Even with the idiotic way they spell out Chekhov’s accent, Johnson has made Star Trek feel like it has an actual cast and not just photo-referenced stand-ins. But Johnson also gives Fajar way too much to do.

Not usually making that compliant–a writer giving an artist a lot of chances to do different things. Fajar fumbles all of them. The space battle is terrible, but it’s leagues better than the away team getting into a phaser fight. That last action sequence is just atrocious.

The bad art is holding this series back–nothing else.

CREDITS

The Khitomer Conflict, Part Three; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Yuwono; letterer, Chris Mowry; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 26 (October 2013)

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If it weren’t for the terrible art from Fajar, this issue might actually be pretty good. Johnson splits the crew–spending Spock off to consult the Federation while everyone on the Enterprise questions him leaving Kirk and Kirk off with the Klingons as a prisoner.

Johnson’s juxtaposition is interesting because Kirk’s the one who has the most faith in Spock; now, will Johnson answer the question of whether Kirk has faith in Spock’s own decision making or does Kirk really have faith the human crew will convince Spock to act. Or will Johnson ignore that plot thread because he’s really more about wowing the reader.

Except Johnson has no ammunition. As a sequel to Into Darkness, this story arc will always have to be muted–it’s a poorly drawn licensed comic after all. Paramount won’t allow anything major.

It’s a fine enough issue, though the hard cliffhanger is spectacularly lame.

CREDITS

The Khitomer Conflict, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Yuwono; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 25 (September 2013)

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There are too many dang people in the main Enterprise cast. Johnson just added Sulu’s sister as a love interest for Chekhov. Why does Chekhov need a love interest? No idea. Johnson’s not doing anything with Carol Marcus and Kirk–probably doesn’t want to step on future movie toes–but come on… When does Scotty get a girlfriend?

The issue opens with a reference to Star Trek VI, which sadly might be the best thing about the issue. Johnson is able to tell original series adaptations–though this arc is apparently more a sequel to Into Darkness–with material established later. Though he could easily go overboard with that practice. Ignore that comment–I’m cringing at the thought of Spock versus the Borg.

Fajar’s art is really bad this time out. If Star Trek isn’t selling enough to pay for a good artist, maybe IDW should just drop it.

CREDITS

The Khitomer Conflict, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Yuwono; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Sarah Gaydos; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 24 (August 2013)

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No way, decent art from Balboni? It’s unbelievably acceptable, probably due to Marina Castelvetro’s pencils. Now, it’s not great but it’s far from the usual Balboni eyesore.

This issue is a done-in-one episode, which is kind of nice. The Enterprise finds a ravaged colony of prospectors; turns out the Gorn are back (from the “Star Trek” video game no one liked earlier this year) and Kirk’s holding a grudge.

Johnson tries hard to split the comic between Kirk and Spock, but he just gives Kirk way too much action stuff to do. I’m still confused how they lose track of Sulu when they should have communicators. I don’t even think he gets a line.

It’s not bad stuff, just a little too quick a read. I can’t remember Johnson doing a done-in-one issue like this one before; it’s how the series should go so probably won’t.

CREDITS

Writer, Mike Johnson; penciller, Claudia Balboni; inker, Marina Castelvetro; colorist, Arianna Florean; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 23 (July 2013)

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So Johnson doesn’t reveal the human female who is conspiring with the Romulans. It’s probably that chick Khan hooked up with in Space Seed but who cares. He comes up with a wacky way for Spock to get out of Pon Farr without having to fight Kirk (a sad oversight) or get busy with his Vulcan lady (and upset Uhura).

Chekhov–why’s he such a genius in the new Star Trek again–and Carol Marcus come up with the solution. Only Carol Marcus doesn’t really get any lines. Not sure why they put her on the Enterprise if she’s not going to have anything to do except play second chair to Chekhov, who’s really annoying.

It’s not terrible, though Fajar’s art gets tiring almost immediately. Badly painted comic art doesn’t seem appropriate for Star Trek.

The Romulan and Klingon thing is particularly lame as it doesn’t impact the main story.

CREDITS

After Darkness, Part Three; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Yuwono; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 22 (June 2013)

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Not a particularly special continuation of the story… mostly because there’s so much extra stuff to complicate the “Amok Time” adaptation.

First, there’s no Vulcan anymore so Spock’s on New Vulcan. Turns out there’s a tribe of wild Vulcans running around the planet–in its volcanos, which leads to a terrible action sequence from Fajar, who tries way too hard to be cinematic. So far no big fight with Kirk.

Spock’s Vulcan girlfriend, T’Pring, is the same and Uhura takes it all in stride. Johnson writes some good lines for Bones on all the Pon Farr business, but gives way too many pages to the Romulan conspiracy, the Klingon war machine, Sarek and the new Vulcans… there’s just nothing for the actual cast to do but sit and mope.

Until that misfired action finish and then the crew’s all in environment suits and unrecognizable.

It should’ve been fun and isn’t.

CREDITS

After Darkness, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorist, Stellar Labs; letterer, Chris Mowry; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.