Stephen Molnar

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Star Trek 14 (October 2012)

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These little original issues don’t work out bad at all. Johnson uses this one to flesh out the Keesner character–Scotty’s little alien sidekick–and it’s pretty good.

Turns out the character is from some planet of little aliens where he’s ostracized for being too tall. He ends up in Starfleet–following an odd cameo from Kirk’s father–and Johnson tracks his career until he meets up with Scotty.

The stuff without Scotty is the best, because with Scotty around, Johnson has to focus too much attention on him. He can’t make Scotty too big a jerk. When it’s just Keesner, it’s an interesting enough look at life in Starfleet from an unusual perspective.

And the issue needs another page or so. The ending is truncated.

Molnar’s art is okay. He doesn’t do too well in the close-ups of Keesner, but does all right everywhere else.

It’s harmless stuff.

CREDITS

Writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Stephen Molnar; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 13 (September 2012)

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I think this issue has to be the best in the series so far. Johnson structures it around a redshirt who is writing home to his parents from the Enterprise. The character does have a name–and some ties back to the movie–but he’s sort of interchangeable.

There’s a brief recap of the movie and the series so far, which is kind of cool. Johnson never takes a break to actually write in the other issues, just adapts the old original series episodes. He’s actually doing something new here and it works.

Then there’s an adventure, along with this neat–if obvious–quiet moment where Uhura and Spock flirt in front of the issue’s protagonist. Johnson finishes off with some very self-aware stuff about the redshirt knowing what it means to be a redshirt… a little too meta, but it works.

Maybe Molnar’s best art so far too.

CREDITS

Writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Stephen Molnar; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 10 (July 2012)

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Johnson closes this issue on San Francisco Starfleet Command. He opened the last issue with it, but these scenes have no connection. It’s a terrible bookend device, since it tears the reader away from the regular cast.

The plot revelations throughout the issue, though predictable, aren’t bad. Johnson has problems transitioning between locations, which is annoying–Molner is no help.

For most of the issue, Johnson’s updates to the original episode appear to be Scotty’s Star Trek movie memories. The references to the movie’s events feel rather forced. Johnson doesn’t trust the reader to remember the movie, even though Molnar’s good for nothing but (badly drawn) photo-referenced illustrations of the movie cast’s faces.

The big finish dumbly gives up pages for the epilogue. Instead of (numerically, not talented) substantial sci-fi visuals, the resolution gets a few rectangular panels in the middle of a page.

The end sinks it.

CREDITS

The Return of the Archons, Part 2; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Stephen Molnar; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 9 (May 2012)

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The secret to reading Star Trek is to concentrate on the words. Not on what people are saying, but the actual visual text. Focusing on the balloons and boxes, one can ignore the art. For a panel or two, I thought Molnar had improved since his last issue.

He has not. He oscillates between bad and worse. His photo-referenced faces lack any personality, but it’s nowhere near as technically lacking as when people need to make expressions. Then Molnar makes the faces even more static.

Johnson’s script isn’t bad. He paces things well.

There’s something particularly compelling about this issue, which doesn’t just update an old episode’s story, it updates technology. For “Trek” fans, it’s a familiar technological visual. Even though Molnar’s creating the new design, it excites the imagination a little… an internal review over a classic item revised.

That process is the neatest thing about this Trek.

CREDITS

The Return of the Archons, Part 1; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Stephen Molnar; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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Star Trek 4 (December 2011)

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These comics ought to come with a fifty cents off coupon for buying the original “Star Trek” episode online.

If I’ve seen the episode, The Galileo Seven, I don’t remember it. But I do know the resolution must be somewhat different because Johnson’s finish for this issue is firmly in movie continuity.

The issue’s a failure, partially due to the awkward pacing, the rest due to Phillips’s art. Molnar is reduced to a layouts credit.

Johnson can’t make the comic, based on television pacing, exciting. Meaningful looks fail, as do the action scenes. And Phillips is so weak, any time Johnson does come up with a good moment, it flops. There’s one in particular, with Kirk spouting off regulations, where Phillips misses the humor. He’s clearly just too busy poorly tracing publicity photos of Chris Pine.

If I were reading Trek for quality, I’d give up now.

I’m not, however.

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Star Trek 3 (November 2011)

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Once again, Mike Johnson does well enough adapting an original “Star Trek” episode to the new movie’s continuity. Well enough means it utterly lacks any personality.

This issue Uhura gets the most “movie” personality, just because of her romance with Spock. But even with those added details, she barely makes any impression.

Instead, it’s all Spock, McCoy and the red shirts stranded on a hostile planet. No one agrees with Spock about how to proceed, but he’s in charge, yada yada. He’ll undoubtedly save the day.

The issue also introduces Yeoman Rand, who didn’t get a movie appearance, and Johnson just does it as a nod to the original series. I don’t think she has a line after her first panel.

The art’s a mess. Stephen Molnar manages to use the movie likenesses, Joe Phillips doesn’t. Neither is particularly good, Molnar just fulfills the task better.

Trek remains a curiosity.

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Star Trek 2 (October 2011)

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So Sally Kellerman doesn’t show up this issue either.

Johnson continues his adaptation of the show’s pilot, but it’s all of a sudden very reductive. He can’t handle a big cast–I think there’s maybe five people in the whole issue–which makes it feel less like “Star Trek.”

Molnar can’t handle the technology, which is another problem. Again he’s concentrating on the likenesses IDW has contracted instead of good art. Johnson gives him a mildly complex sequence (Kirk is being forced to kneel) and Molnar bombs it.

The emphasis this issue is on Kirk, his captain log narrates, he’s the one sitting alone thinking about the events. It doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel like the new movie Kirk and it doesn’t feel like the original.

The concept is starting to fall apart two issues into an ongoing series… not a good sign at all.

But it’s still readable.

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Star Trek 1 (September 2011)

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IDW should have put out Star Trek as double-sized issues, containing the entire episode adaptation, instead of splitting them up.

It’s a high concept series–comic book adaptations of the original series but in the new movie’s continuity, which is the only reason I was interested.

So, an issue is only as good as the original episode… I mean, Mike Johnson takes a lot of dialogue straight from the pilot episode (if I remember right) and he does a fine enough job updating to the “new” personalities. It almost seems, in some cases, he’s updating to the Star Trek movie–original cast–personalities more than the new movie’s (as the new movie didn’t have the time to fully establish characters).

As for the art, Stephen Molnar seems more concerned with likenesses than he is with doing a good job. It’s unfortunate, but Trek‘s about the concept, not the art.

CREDITS

Where No Man Has Gone Before, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Stephen Molnar; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.