Ei8ht 2 (March 2015)

Ei8ht #2

Not really enough story for this issue of Ei8ht. There are quite a few scenes and a bit of information–without being exposition–but there’s not a lot of story. In fact, as far as story goes, there’s only like five pages. The protagonist gets up and walks around and hears about the Meld.

The rest of the comic, with the female soldier arguing for the protagonist visitor guy’s survival (instead of being given to the bad guy) and a bunch of stuff with an exploration vessel from Earth, isn’t exactly story or subplot. It should be, but something about the way Johnson writes it, it’s not.

The opening of the comic is confusing as all heck, just because–at issue two–Johnson hasn’t done enough to establish these characters. And even though Albuquerque’s art’s magnificent, his people aren’t exactly distinguished. They’re all human, all fit.

It’s okay enough stuff.

CREDITS

Writers, Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson; artist, Albuquerque; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Spencer Cushing and Sierra Hahn; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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Ei8ht 1 (February 2015)

Ei8ht #1

What is Ei8ht?

Well, first off, it’s gorgeous. Rafael Albuquerque does a great job. Nothing’s exactly original–Planet of the Apes meets Twelve Monkeys meets Waterworld meets The Road Warrior–but it all looks really good. Albuquerque immediately brings personality to the characters. He and co-writer Mike Johnson even choose just the right names for certain connotations.

Wait, wait, wait. Albuquerque’s great except the last page. I need to bring it up for a second. It’s the “money shot” of the issue, it’s what sets it the last page being some kind of cliffhanger, and Albuquerque fumbles. He’s not thoughtful about the illustration and it shows. Maybe he’s busy, but maybe the editors need to do more.

There’s a lot of time travel and so on in Ei8ht. Space travel, time travel. Albuquerque and Johnson do it well. Not original, but thoughtfully constructed from other elements.

It’s definitely okay.

CREDITS

Writers, Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson; artist, Albuquerque; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Spencer Cushing and Sierra Hahn; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Star Trek 36 (August 2014)

Star Trek #36

I love how static Shasteen draws all the faces. It looks like he's going through either publicity photos or maybe screen grabs and picking the ones he thinks are closest to the emotions the characters should be feeling.

Actually, I do not love anything about Shasteen's art. I was being sarcastic in an attempt to feign enthusiasm for talking about this comic book.

It is barely a Star Trek issue in terms of being about the new movie franchise crew; it's more of a "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" comic it turns out. Is it a good "Deep Space Nine" comic?

No.

As a writer, Johnson continues to confuse concept with imagination. Just because the Paramount rep okayed crossing over with the "Star Trek" shows isn't reason enough to do so.

Johnson can't even get any mileage out of Bones and Spock banter. It's pedestrian and pointless with lifeless art.

C- 

CREDITS

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Star Trek 21 (May 2013)

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Interesting, very interesting.

Well, sort of interesting. This issue, beginning a sequel arc to the Star Trek Into Darkness film, does feature a return to form for Johnson in some ways. He’s enjoying writing the scenes between the crew, not trying to fit in a bunch of silly new history. The worst he does is tie into the movie prequel comic IDW did, but he also recaps that series’s repercussions in decent expository dialogue.

And there’s the interesting twist to the whole thing… it’s actually “Amok Time.” Spock’s going into Pon Farr for the first time (and I also realized Star Trek III has a big continuity gaff in that regard) but things are different. He’s got a girlfriend now. A human one who can’t relieve the Pon Farr stresses.

It’s a great setup, hopefully Johnson can deliver. There’s political intrigue too, but who cares… it’s “Amok Time” time again.

CREDITS

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

Star Trek 20 (May 2013)

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Not only don’t Sulu and Chekhov rate their own origin issues, they don’t even get one bad artist. They have to share two lousy artists.

I wonder if Johnson knew he was going to have two artists or if the told him later. The change is handled somewhat seamlessly. It goes from bad to bad; I thought maybe Sulu would get one part, Chekhov the other, but no… it’s all jumbled. Except Kirk shows up in Chekhov’s story arc because, well, apparently Chekhov’s even less interesting than Sulu.

Johnson’s problem with all these origin issues is pretty simple. He’s writing inane adventures in Starfleet Academy. Everybody’s in the Academy at one point or another in their stories and they’re all bad. It’s like Johnson hasn’t got it figured out how not to be condescending about the morals of the Star Trek universe. It’s a shame.

Produces terrible comic book too.

CREDITS

Writer, Mike Johnson; pencillers, Claudia Balboni and Luca Lamberti; inkers, Erica Durante and Lamberti; colorist, Arianna Florean; letterer, Tom B. Long; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star Trek 19 (March 2013)

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Maybe there’s a reason Scotty isn’t the star on “Star Trek.” Johnson gets absolutely no mileage out of the character, even going so far as to include the transwarp Beagle incident the film writers thought so much of. It doesn’t help Balboni’s on the pencils, but there’s just no story.

Some of the problem stems from Johnson’s inability to distinguish the character from Simon Pegg’s highly effected performance. Reading the comic feels like reading a newsletter from Pegg’s fan club. Johnson does include a lot of little moments in Scotty’s history, but they’re all pointless.

And I’d love to see the odds one of his ancestors worked on the H.M.S. Enterprise. It’s probably billions to one, yet Johnson expects the reader to consume it without question.

The series’s original concept–revising the original television series episodes–is sadly forgotten. Johnson is just doing movie tie-in crap now.

CREDITS

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

Star Trek 17 (February 2013)

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The Bones McCoy origin issue. Not sure if Johnson doing origin issues is such a good idea after this one.

Definitely not if the art team of Claudia Balboni and Erica Durante continues. It’s sometimes a little amazing the artists IDW gets for Star Trek. It’s one of the oldest licensed properties out there and they get these not ready for prime time players on it.

In other words, the art is bad. So bad one occasionally pauses to bewilder at the terrible faces, especially on poor Bones McCoy.

Johnson–he brought an M.D. relation along as cowriter, though there’s almost no medicine discussed, only shown in montage–doesn’t have a story for Bones. I thought it was going to be about his father dying. Nope, it’s about what made him join Starfleet. It’s not convincing.

The writing’s not bad, just misguided and pointless. The art is bad though.

CREDITS

Writers, Mike Johnson and F. Leonard Johnson; penciller, Claudia Balboni; inker, Erica Durante; colorist, Claudia SGC; letterer, Chris Mowry; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star Trek 16 (December 2012)

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Eh. You know, Johnson tries really hard sometimes and he ends up forgetting things. For example, doing the mirror universe version of the new Star Trek movie, he manages to lose sight of his best possible story threads.

Old Spock arrives–only he’s regular old Spock not old mirror Spock. Johnson refuses to play too much and sticks to having a good guy somewhere in this issue. Only the comic doesn’t need a good guy, it needs good twists.

Additionally, seeing as how it’s an imaginary tale, there’s no reason the twists couldn’t be outrageous. Johnson’s just too focused on doing a tight issue–there are no creative clips. It’s unfortunate.

The evil Kirk is a lot of fun, even if he’s too dumb to have ever made first officer. Johnson does a lot better with the comic when he’s in the spotlight.

Johnson’s Spock mishandling pretty much kills it.

CREDITS

Mirrored, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artists, Erfan Fajar, Hendri Prasetyo and Miralti Firmansyah; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Tuwono; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star Trek 15 (November 2012)

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Very interesting approach to doing the Mirror, Mirror adaptation. Instead of adapting the original episode–so far, Johnson just does a story set in a similarly dark alternate reality but one in the new movie continuity.

Spock’s the captain of the Enterprise, Kirk is his first officer. They’re warring against the Klingons, but there’s still the matter of Nero (from the first new Star Trek) to deal with. It’s a little late in the series, actually; it probably should have come earlier on… unless Johnson does tie it into the regular reality.

There’s some weird, kind of painted art from Erfan Fajar. He gets the likenesses in broad strokes, which is neat. He doesn’t try too hard. The visual flow is good, even though there aren’t a lot of action scenes. Actually, his action scenes are probably his best work.

Johnson, free of adaptation constraints, has some real fun here.

CREDITS

Mirrored, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Erfan Fajar; colorists, Ifansyah Noor and Sakti Tuwono; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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.

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.

Star Trek 12 (August 2012)

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The Tribbles storyline doesn’t have a particularly good conclusion. Not because of Johnson’s script. He does all right actually. The action moves from the Tribble planet–gives Uhura some Klingon to translate–back to the ship for the Tribbles on the Enterprise (but not like the original episode at all).

Scotty gets a big sequence where he has to sort of save the day. There’s some decent relationship building with Kirk and Spock. Even McCoy gets a little moment. So what’s the problem?

Balboni can’t do talking heads. It looks like she’s tracing publicity photos of the movie actors for her talking heads scenes. It’s just terrible, terrible stuff. But the photo-referencing isn’t the only problem–the action on the ship is lame. She doesn’t draw the Enterprise interiors well.

This series sometimes skirts by on gimmick. This issue it doesn’t. It comes close, but Balboni’s art sinks it.

CREDITS

The Truth About Tribbles, Part Two; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Claudia Balboni; colorist, Arianna Florean; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Star Trek 11 (July 2012)

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For the Tribbles issue, Mike Johnson goes for humor, which is appropriate.

It’s definitely not a direct adaptation of the original episode, as it features the Enterprise finding the home world of the Tribbles and the beasts who keep the ecosystem in check.

There’s a flashback–I think–at the beginning to the Star Trek movie, then it cuts to Chekhov and Scotty messing around with a tribble on the Enterprise. The ship immediately coming across the tribble planet is a tad contrived. I guess Johnson doesn’t worry about those things.

Claudia Balboni does fine on the art. The planet is interesting looking and the beasts who eat the Tribbles are cool. Almost nothing happens on the ship itself except talking heads, which Balboni does all right.

Johnson’s clearly trying to tell this one with some humor but it seems like he doesn’t have good pacing breakdowns for his cast.

CREDITS

The Truth About Tribbles, Part One; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Claudia Balboni; colorist, Ilaria Traversi; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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.

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.

Star Trek 8 (May 2012)

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I’m trying to imagine what Phillips’s pencils must look like. He does so little work on faces–relying almost entirely on the colorist to fill in depth–I wish I could see the pencils. People probably look like blobs with eyes.

If you haven’t guessed, the art is terrible. Johnson still comes up with a fairly decent story. It gets talky at times; he’s better writing dialogue for the guest stars than the supporting Enterprise crew. Sulu in particular has no personality in Johnson’s Trek.

Johnson doesn’t so much rely on surprises as reasoned behavior, which is a fairly neat route to take… given some of the guest stars are Vulcan.

There’s a strange smallness to the issue too. It almost seems intentional; to mimic the confined sets of the old TV show. If so, it’s the coolest thing IDW’s done with Trek.

Besides the art, it’s pretty okay stuff.

CREDITS

Vulcan’s Vengeance, Part 2; writer, Mike Johnson; artist, Joe Phillips; colorist, John Rauch; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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