Forum Discussion of the Week: I Can’t Get Behind the New Star Trek Ongoing Comic

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Image: IDW Publishing

Today, IDW Publishing has released a new Star Trek comic called Star Trek Ongoing. As much as I’d like to, I can’t get behind that. As I shared the other week, Star Trek played a huge role in my life and shaped much of who I am today. It is all I can do to contain my nerd rage in order to explain why this comic has me so angry. But I am going to try my best to channel my inner Spock and explain why this latest move by the Abramsverse has me so enraged.

If you have yet to read this news, let me share the description of this new comic:

The adventures of the Starship Enterprise continue in this new ongoing series that picks up where the blockbuster 2009 film left off! Featuring the new cast of the film, these missions re-imagine the stories from the original series in the alternate timeline created by the film, along with new threats and characters never seen before! With creative collaboration from STAR TREK writer/producer Roberto Orci, this new series begins the countdown to the much-anticipated movie sequel premiering in 2012. Join Kirk, Spock and the crew as they boldly go into a new future! Up first, a drastic new envisioning of “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

If you are a hardcore fan such as myself, then you know Where No Man Has Gone Before was the second pilot for Star Trek: The Original Series.

My brain is currently stuck in the following thoughts, “So… once upon a time, there was this man. His name was JJ Abrams. He had this idea to reboot Star Trek and give it new life. He had this idea to create a brand new universe and timeline, one that would attract new fans, whilst keeping Roddenberry’s original vision intact and untouched. THEN WHY IS HE BEHIND REWRITING THE SECOND PILOT AND STICKING IT IN A COMIC!? What on earth happened to the new universe not touching the original?!”

I will admit, I have a lot of issues with the reboot. So many, if I were to write them out, it would be a novel in itself. However, despite my issues with the new Star Trek, I was able to accept it as valid as it used an existing device from within cannon: Alternate timeline. Using this device, Prime was still there and untouched. The Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, etc., that I grew up with were still there, waiting for someone to carry on their story. Because of this, I could accept, even if only, this new Star Trek, one that lacked the substance and the human story that I grew-up with.

I think that if the Abramsverse wants to create a new comic, based off of the rebooted characters and set within this alternate timeline, then they can fill their boots. My issue is that this isn’t new. He had said that he wanted to respect Roddenberry’s original creation. If that is true, then why is the original series being butchered rewritten? Why are they not taking full advantage of this new timeline? They have this great opportunity to do something that makes Star Trek what it is: To explore strange new worlds… to seek out new life and civilisations… to boldly go where no-one has gone before! Instead, they are going where they’ve gone before and no new words, life or civilisations are being sought out.

With Star Trek, Abrams has a lot of opportunities for brand new stories. Like, what if the Klingons and the Federation never went to war? What if the Orions went to war with the Federation and tried to enslave them? There is so much to explore in a fun, new way, whilst still telling the human stories that make Trek what it is. If this new franchise is already out of new ideas, it is in serious trouble.

I watch Star Trek because it challenges my perceptions of the world and forces me to think, whilst entertaining me. I can sit down with my children and watch pretty much any episode, from any series, and have a real discussion with them about humanity, our place in the world, social woes and so much more.

In the last GeekMom podcast, they had an interesting discussion about the things added to Star Wars and how a new generation will grow up thinking that Han did not shoot first and they may never learn to know the difference. I had one person on Twitter ask me, when I was raging about this new comic, “Does George Lucas have his hands on Star Trek now too?” I see that as a serious problem. Not because of the changes in of itself, but because the original universe was suppose to remain intact. My children will know the difference and I’m not sure they’ll be able to accept them either; not if the re-imagined Trek is using a good portion of the original Trek.

If Abrams wants to introduce new mythology and create new cannon, great. I only wish he didn’t do it at the expense of the original series. Roddenberry tackled a lot of very tough and sensitive issues. Those messages and issues need to be preserved. Many of them are still issues to be talked about it; some of which were tackled in Where No Man Has Gone Before. I do not see this branch of the reboot as being an honour to Gene’s memory but, instead, a real dishonour.

To restate: If you are going to make Star Trek new, then please make sure that it is, in fact, new. Why create a whole new universe if you are not going to explore it?

You can see a preview of the new comic below.

How do you feel about this? Come join the forum discussion!

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19 thoughts on “Forum Discussion of the Week: I Can’t Get Behind the New Star Trek Ongoing Comic

  1. I have nothing invested in Star Wars, but George Lucas is physically changing the original trilogy. That’s an attack on art.

    The Star Trek comic on the other, I don’t understand why it bothers you. JJ Abrams isn’t recutting the original series, he’s creating an alternate version of it in an alternate timeline in a different medium. It doesn’t influence or affect the original episode at all.

    In the same way removing the giant space octopus from the Watchmen film doesn’t ruin the graphic novel. The two are entirely separate and are in no way related.
    -Graham

    1. The problem is, he is recutting the original series. Except for the first couple of pages, the rest is dialogue taken pretty much word for word from the original episode.

      1. Jules, could you clarify: have you read the new Abrams comic, or are you miffed at the concept?

        I understand your frustration, and the comic could suck, but it also could be conceptually interesting. How would the alt universe crew react when placed in the same/similar situation? I can’t imagine the Abrams crew would just regurgitate the old scripts without adding or reimagining them in some substantive way.

        It seems you have already accepted, albeit reluctantly, the alt universe explanation of the reboot. In the Star Trek universe, by extension, nothing that derives from that can affect the original cannon. In the real world, nothing can change your memories or what you took from the original series.

        Deep breaths.

        1. I read the preview, which I linked. The first couple pages are new. After that, what is left of the preview is pretty much word for word what the original episode script was.

          As I said in my post, if you want to reboot the series and use an alternative timeline, then make the stories original. The comic is nothing more than a slight rewrite of the original episode.

          And even if they didn’t ‘borrow’ a lot of the script and concept of the original, borrowing the name of the episode is completely unnecessary. I don’t understand the point of a reboot if you are going to reuse old titles and use good portions of dialogue from old episodes. I somehow doubt that the rebooted crew of the Enterprise would have the same journeys and encounter the same scenarios of prime. If I want to watch the Enterprise have an adventure after they encounter the transponder from the Valiant… well I’ve already been there and done that many times.

        2. Let me put it this way and maybe it will make more sense.

          I was okay with it opening with the new Scotty and his log. I was okay with how they introduced Mitchell and explained why Sulu is already a member of the bridge crew, when he wasn’t in the original episode. They lost me completely when they used dialogue, almost word for word, from the original episode when Spock is accessing the logs from the transponder.

      2. If it makes more sense I see it this way: during the first season of TNG there were some very interesting new concepts (Encounter at Farpoint, let’s say, starting that series off with a bang) and some recycled ones (TNG: The Naked Now, via TOS: The Naked Time). To me, The Naked Now was seriously lazy: we have a new ship, new characters, new tech and let’s see how they would respond to the same old problems. Why not throw a new story in with it too?

        That’s similar to what the IDW comic’s doing here: alt characters, alt timeline, same problem, same solution — lazy lazy lazy. They might as well have written how the characters from Mirror, Mirror would have dealt with the problem (actually that would probably be more creative: at the first sign of trouble, they would have executed Mitchell and Dehner). What’s the point of creating a forked plot if you don’t explore that fork? It’s not so much the nonexistent effect on TOS and its stories as it is a serious lack of effort on Abrams/IDW’s part.

        Then again, they say that every plot can be reduced to the same 7 storylines, so perhaps there is nothing new under the sun. Abrams/IDW is just being more obvious than most.

        1. Yes! This too.

          Another thing (there are a lot but it difficult to think clearly when one is angry), with the rebooted movie, I was basically told, “Forget every thing you know about Star Trek. We are going to create a new universe to go beside your existing one. But in order to enjoy this new universe, you must forget every thing you know”, only for them to include original dialogue, making the forgetting what I know impossible. Others may be able to continue to forget what they know but I can’t when existing dialogue is being used.

          As for The Naked Now, I can see why that bothers some people. For me personally, I felt it to be a nice nod to the original series and a continuation of that timeline. It was a fun romp, nothing more or less. I actually revisited it the other night with a friend, and we laughed like silly teenagers for hours afterwards. We needed that laugh after we just watched 5ish hours of Trek that really choked us up.

  2. I have no problem with a comic based off of the ‘reboot.’

    The reboot only did one thing: created a splintered alternate universe. So technically it’s not affecting the original at all (which would still exist in it’s universe), but further expand on the alternate universe.

    Sure, they’re going to take ideas from the originals because they share an ancestral history. Just one turns out way different.

    1. It doesn’t change the originals and I have them all and watch them nightly. Prime still exists.

      But why reboot something and destroy what we know of Trek, through the alternate timeline device, rebuild a new universe, one filled with whole new possibilities to explore, if you are going to half re-write original episodes? I want new stories, not various of old ones.

      So much room for complete creativity and brand new things. With the inclusion of original dialogue, I just can’t accept that it is new.

      Also as said on G+ by Ron Scott (you can read full discussion here https://plus.google.com/100576497665628716472/posts/CwTZJxmxjsK):

      “Besides the fact that it doesn’t make any sense at all–the arrival of the Narada is supposed to be a watershed moment with profound, wide-ranging effects that change everything, so all of those original events portrayed in the TOS episodes should never happen–those stories are also just already told. ”

      In the rebooted movie, they made HUGE deviations from the original cannon. Why do that if you are just going to go back and re-write cannon episodes, especially when you have a whole new universe. It isn’t creative and it is a missed opportunity.

      I feel like people have missed the part where I said if they want to create comics based on alt timeline, they can fill their boots. I just want it to be brand new and creative.

  3. I cannot stand the reboot or anything to do with it. I refuse to accept that garbage (er, floating space debris featuring R2D2…) as cannon.

  4. Sounds like Jules would reject the Battlestar Galactica reboot. In that series, they revisit Admiral Cain and the Pegasus despite it being a different series entirely.

    Or to go a bit into actual Trek canon, what are the chances of the mirror universe having the counterparts of the same officers on the same ship orbiting the same planet?

    I wonder if her head will asplode if Khan shows up in the Trek reboot sequel…

    1. I did not like the BSG reimagination. I found it completely unnecessary and there was nothing new in it.

      If they made Khan into something else other than Kirk’s enemy, then I’d be okay with him being in the 2nd rebooted movie. After all, Kirk, McCoy, Spock, Scotty etc all exist. But if they are just going to revamp old story lines, I will not enjoy it and I will not be wasting my money on it when they are new things that I can spend my time consuming.

      1. The characters are archetypes by this point. Despite a dramatically different history, the reboot still had the characters behaving like the originals. That’s because most in the audience care about the original characters–not the history. That’s why the mirror universe is so popular among fans: because they provide additional insight to the main characters by twisting them a bit (e.g. what if Spock had no compassion).

        You can look at the new movie as a checklist of all the memorable highlights of the original series:

        Kirk makes out with an alien – check.
        Spock beats up Kirk – check.
        Mccoy calls Spock pointy eared – check.
        Scotty performs an engineering miracle – check.
        Sulu swordfights – check.
        Chekov has problems with his v’s – check.
        Uhura has an interracial kiss – check.

        The audience doesn’t want the characters to change; the history is unimportant.

        Compare that with George Lucas’s changes to Star Wars. Most fans were ambivalent to the effects improvements, but objected to his changes with character. Han was no longer a scoundrel willing to shoot first. Luke shows less courage (screaming while falling in Bespin). Vader lost a sense of implacable determination (saying “Noooo” when picking up the Emperor).

        So is Khan destined to be Kirk’s adversary even in the reboot? Is Khan an archetype? I think most people think he is.

  5. I have to align in Jules’ camp, not because I object to the reboot or because they are revisiting characters and situations from TOS. But they are just telling the same story essentially the same way, with a few modifications to account for a slightly different crew mix. That strikes me as seriously lazy. I have a little experience in dealing with adapting Star Trek, and I find I’m rather disappointed in this first effort.

    First of all, there are an endless number of tales to tell in this restructured universe. Why just retell a familiar one off the bat with issue # 1?

    Inevitably people may be curious about how this changed situation affects crises that affected the Federation in the TOS timeline. Fine, at least show that there are more than cosmetic differences.

    Example: The entire planet Vulcan is destroyed and the Federation, held together in the TOS universe by Vulcan diplomacy and scientific/economic power, is likely in chaos. That likely would keep the fleet’s flagship closer to home instead of at “the edge of the galaxy”. Maybe this upstart troublemaker Kirk doesn’t have the pull to get his old buddy assigned to the flagship and Gary Mitchell encounters the edge of the galaxy and becomes a psychic superman aboard an aging research vessel instead of the Enterprise. Then suppose he dominates that crew easily and returns to Federation space as a far greater threat than TOS Kirk ever dealt with. So the first time Kirk and the Enterprise encounters him, Kirk has a much different problem to face — one where we don’t already know the ending.

    If you are going to revisit the old, at least wait until you’ve shown us you can handle original stories first. And if you then must revisit (and a lot of people will want that, no doubt) then revisit, don’t just retell.

    1. I like that you mention the Vulcans. In one discussion that I was having elsewhere, I made mention of a Vulcan conflict. So much would end up changing as a result of the destruction of Vulcan alone.

  6. First of all, it’s CANON! Not Cannon, which is something else entirely! Second: If you do not like it, do not read it!

    I was pretty much annoyed with TNG when it first came out. As it was pointed out by Mike, the similarities of the “Amok” Episodes. And of course those of the characters (William T. Riker James T. Kirk, Data Spock and so on) which was basically using a tried concept in a different way by Mr. Roddenberry.

    And that’s exactly what JJ Abrams is doing. Why is he so different compared to Gene Roddenberry at the start of TNG?

    The interweb’s giving you a way to get as much information as possible BEFORE reading a comic or watching a movie. And if it does NOT suit your taste: DO NOT WATCH IT!

    That’s what I did when Star Trek: Enterprise came out.

    And remember the IDIC…

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