Friday, 30 November 2007

Alien Spotlight: Andorians review

The latest issue of the Alien Spotlight series, on the Andorians, was released last week, here's what I thought:

First off, at last an issue with its own title "The Old Ways". The first title to actually make it into a comic since The Space Between miniseries finished!

This issue was far more along the lines of what I was expecting from the miniseries, a story really relevant to the featured species, based entirely around characters of said race. This is a TNG tale (the first two were TOS stories) and opens on the Enterprise-D. However the only series regular to make an appearance is Deanna Troi, and the rest of the issue takes place on Andoria.

The story is an interesting political tale, and gives a nice explanation of why the Andorians make so few appearances in the 24th century series. It also makes some clever references to the four-genders of the Andorian species as established in the DS9 relaunch books, but without going so far as to make it very confusing for anyone who might be unfamiliar with that; just giving a hint of alienism.

The artwork is pretty nice throughout, there are couple of odd facial expressions but it's otherwise quite attractive and interesting. The layout is neat, but dynamic, a really nice style I think.

The only problem with the issue is that it's very texty. The story is interesting enough to get away with it, but I think it almost certainly will have restricted the art; the issue is mostly heads and text. There are some interesting panels, but there're no big flashy wow-art pages.

Despite the restrictions on art I think this is best Alien Spotlight, and one of the best IDW Trek comics so far. The story is engaging and interesting, the Andorian race is explored more thoroughly than the Gorn or Vulcans got in previous issues, and it's full of satisfying continuity with DS9 novels and much of the Andorian culture that was established in Enterprise. I'd look forward to anything more by the writer Paul D. Storrie, the artist Leonard O'Grady, and of course the always cool Andorians.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Wrath of Kahn figures wave 2

Diamond Select Toys have officially announced the details of the second wave of Wrath of Kahn action figures. As revealed at San Diego Comic Con earlier in the year the wave will consist of Spock and "Regula 1" Kirk, with limited Savik and Previews exclusive Uhura. The new announcement shows off the Kirk variant for the first time:

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

IDW February

Comics Continuum has released IDW's solicitations for February next year, which includes the following Star Trek comics:

Alien Spotlight: Romulans

Legendary writer/artist John Byrne, in his first-ever full Star Trek work, concludes this special series of one-shots in which the many alien races of the Star Trek universe get their due. The Romulan Empire has a new "ghost ship" that can't be detected by normal means. Will the Praetor use it as a weapon to thrust his people into full-blown war with the Federationóor are his motives even more sinister? A tale of loyalty, betrayal and intrigue.
Intelligence Gathering #2

The all-new adventure of the Enterprise-D crew continues, with a spotlight on Commander Worf! Worf finds himself in the unfamiliar role of diplomat when he's forced to settle a dispute between Rigelian colonists on a border world, with the fate of the colony hanging in the balance. Can Worf struggle against his own aggressive instincts, or will he do his negotiating with the point of a blade? From the creative team who brought you Klingons: Blood Will Tell, Scott & David Tipton and David Messina. 2 regular covers will be shipped in a 1-to-1 ratio.

Friday, 16 November 2007

TNG relaunch review

I don't believe the folks at Pocket books much like the term relaunch, however it’s just so much more catchy than post-Nemesis fiction or whatever else you might try designate the books set after the last canon Next Generation adventure. So, the relaunch of TNG in book form started a couple of years ago with the release of Death in Winter, but didn’t really kick off until recently with the trilogy of sorts released to celebrate TNG’s 20th anniversary. Here’s what I thought (some spoilers included):

Michael Jan Friedman’s Death in Winter kicked things off with it’s hardback release in 2005, it was also recently re-released in paperback just ahead of the most recent TNG books. The book takes place while the Enterprise is in spacedock following the battle in Nemesis and it’s primary purpose is to finally get Picard and Crusher together, which it does, hurrah! The book is therefore very much focused on those two characters, with what’s left of the established TNG cast (Worf and Geordi) getting a forgettable side-story that ties into the main events of the book.

The story is set on a Romulan occupied world, allowing Sela to return as a bad-gal. It also features appearances from some of the former crew of the USS Stargazer, as established in Friedman’s previous Stargazer books. Personally I found the Stargazer characters an annoying distraction; Not being familiar with them, having not read any of the Stargazer series, I didn’t relate to them at all, and I don’t think Mr Friedman did much of a job establishing them as stand-alone guest characters for this tale. The story in this book wasn’t hugely captivating, nor does it really establish a great deal of back-story to any of the books set after it. The novel came off to me as something of a time filler, easily missable and not very interesting.

And so we come to the first of this years new releases; Resistance, by J.M. Dillard. A Borg story, I like the Borg, so here was something to look forward to. The story was short, quick to read, and somewhat disappointing. In a lot of ways it plays as a sequel to The Best of Both Worlds and First Contact – well fair enough, those are the two big Picard/Borg stories, but that’s all it feels like, the story feels, despite it epic elements, small. A handful of new crew are introduced, only one survives to appear in the next book, but what feels really odd is the Enterprise is so empty, there are almost no background or side characters to flesh out the crew. The book at times felt a bit gimmicky, Borg Queen, saucer separation, cloaking devices, Locutus – throw them all in, it will be great, exciting! But somehow it just didn’t work this time, lots of interesting bits, but it didn’t work together very captivatingly.

The bits that did work very well in this novel were the development of Worf, as he struggled to realise he was indeed first officer material, and the introduction of the new Vulcan councillor T’Lana. T’Lana shone in this books as something very different, not just agreeing with Picard as one expects from his crew – an interesting and promising character. Overall the book wasn’t as satisfying as it could be, it felt a bit cobbled together, and too much like a sequel, but it was still interesting and worth picking up to start the tale of the new crew dynamic.

A month later Keith R.A. DeCandido delivered Q & A, a Q story, or indeed The Q story, as the book tries, and indeed very much succeeds, in tying every Q story together. The Qish elements of this book are perfect, Q feels very much like Q, and the way all Q’s appearances are tied together is brilliant. DeCandido does a great job making the Enterprise feel inhabited and introduces two new big characters; Second officer Miranda Kadohata and chief of security Zelik Leybenzon. These two were about the only parts of the novel I didn’t enjoy, I found both quite annoying. While T’Lana was a pest to the Enterprise crew in Resistance, there was something endearing about her, and that continues to be in Q & A. Kadohata and Leybenzon on the other hand, despite all the best efforts to flesh out their characters and establish them as unique and interesting people just didn’t have anything that made them stand out and say "look at me, I’m interesting".

DeCandido also manages to make the Trekverse feel much bigger (something really lacking in Resistance) with some brief appearances from characters from all over the galaxy. These short bits of story added a lot of interest and did something Michael Jan Friedman failed to in Death in Winter; make use of DeCandido’s (and others’) previously established characters and settings without them seeming out of place or in need of more explanation. All in all Q & A is a very clever, witty and thoroughly enjoyable book.

And then we return to the Borg in Peter David’s Before Dishonor. This book picks up from the threads of Resistance, but delivers so much more, the story was HUGE and the Borg were really something new and interesting. The book makes heavy use of Seven of Nine and Kathryn Janeway, indeed for the first few chapters you could mistake it for a Voyager novel, it also has a substantial guest appearance from Spock, and all work very well. The story has witty moments but is throughout very tense, much darker - in this instance the Borg feel like a bigger threat than any of their other appearances.

Interestingly the book is very much a sequel to Peter David’s earlier TNG Borg novel Vendetta, a book I read in expectation events might be referenced. I wonder how accessible some of the background from that novel - which is of course explained, but reasonably briefly - would be to someone who hasn’t read Vendetta. Either way it did a great job of making the Trekverse feel like one big adventure.

The new Enterprise crew did not come off in such a good light in this book, all three were involved in a mutiny, blindly following orders from Starfleet Command seemingly ignorant of that fact the orders they were given would have resulted in a futile and quick end to the Enterprise. This pushed Leybenzon even further down in my opinion and disappointingly took T’Lana down too. However despite her going along with the mutiny, some of the inner thoughts of Kadohata brought her up a peg or two in my eyes, she was a much less irritating presence in this story than in Q & A. Disappointingly another new character, Jon Stephens, who was delightfully quirky and a very enjoyable presence, turned out to be a Q and will presumably not return as a regular crew member.

Before Dishonor was an ambitious story, and thankfully it all worked, it set the Borg on an exciting new course, it played out a huge event, and it left lots of interesting threads for the new crew of the Enterprise.

All in all I think the TNG relaunch is off to a good start. Each successive book has been better for story and scope. What I’m somewhat disappointed by are the new crewmembers, T’Lana started out very interestingly, but by the end of Before Dishonor all three have been left in a bad light, I look forward to seeing the new crew dynamic develop in future books and hope the new members start to become a little more likeable. My biggest disappointment in the new crew though is the lack of diversity, aside from T’Lana the Enterprise still fells a lot like the Humans only branch of Starfleet. Which is a same, with so many new openings in the crew I’d like to have seen an underdeveloped alien species get a chance to take up a key role, perhaps the ever present, but generally minor roled, Bolians for instance.

The TNG relaunch continues next year with Greater Than The Sum which will be followed by the crossover trilogy Destiny, which I can’t help but feel will pick up some big threads directly from Before Dishonor, with all the utterances of the word destiny in the final chapter.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

New Star Trek Online devlog

The Star trek Online Devlog has been updated, much of this entry consists of polls of the game's creative team, saying what they favoured from various parts of Star Trek. Here's some concept art for a Devidian, released in the log:

Monday, 12 November 2007

Some artwork from J.M. Beroy

My review below of the Vulcan Alien Spotlight incited (quite reasonably) a negative reaction from the issue's artist Josep Maria Beroy. An exchange of comments on our respective blogs and the result - some pretty artwork courtesy of Mr Beroy. The stunning opening page from the Vulcan issue, looking just as spectacular in black and white:

While I still can't say I enjoyed the comic overall, this page is very much in the spirit of some of the spectacular full page artworks in the Early Voyages comics, certainly worthy of some love.

Beroy blog also reveals what the change in his cover-art for the issue was about. The original version, with the big fleet, was done before he had access to the full script, so had to be removed when only the Enterprise was to appear.

The Menagerie in cinemas from this week

All over the world at various points throughout November special screenings of the digitally remastered version of The Menagerie will be showing in cinemas to promote the forthcoming release of the first season of remastered episodes on HD-DVD.

And it starts this week, here are the dates (country names link to relevant websites for information and booking in that country):

November 13: Screenings in the Canada, Ireland, UK and USA
November 15: Second set of screenings in Canada and the USA
November 16: Screenings in Germany
November 17: Screenings in Austria
November 20: Screenings in The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg
November 27: Screenings in Australia

Tickets are more expensive than your typical film, some countries seem to be offering discounts if you come in a Starfleet uniform. For the price you get to see The Menagerie in all it high definition glory with shiny new special effects and a half hour introduction and documentary hosted by Rob Roddenberry about the remastering process.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

New Conquest images

Bethesda have released some new screenshots from the forthcoming PS2 and Wii game Conquest:

They are apparently from the game's arcade mode, and you can see the five more, here.

Alein Spotlight Gorn and Vulcans review

The first couple of issues in the Alien Spotlight series have been a mixed bag for me, here are m thoughts (with spoilers):

The first issue, The Gorn by Scott and David Tipton with art by David Messina, give the popular but largely unexplored species some time in the spotlight. The story is not really hugely ambitious or original, but it's fun and an enjoyable read (and not every story has to be a Big event after-all).

The story features a shuttle from the USS Reliant returning to the ship after rendering medical aid to an outpost, the shuttle crashes (as they do), onto a Gorn training world. The Starfleet crew soon realise this and assume they're in for the worse. However the Gorn, keen to prove their honour and balance the books in the wake of Cestus III (fifteen years earlier) decide to render medical aid. Fearing attack the Starfleet team defend themselves and almost get the attack form the Gorn they feared. Thankfully everything gets straightened out in the end in time for a parting joke from the Gorn.

A nice moral tale of misconceptions. The artwork is, to any readers of the Blood Will Tell miniseries, of the familiar Messina style and works beautifully. The decision to use the Reliant crew I think was a great one, a welcome break from another Enterprise adventure. All in all an enjoyable, attractive and interesting issue, well worth getting.

The Vulcan issue written by James Patrick from a story idea from Rick Remender and with art by Josep Maria Beroy, is in my view less successful. The story begin told, in the Pike era, is of a larger scale than the Gorn issue and I think this part works well. However the issue features two plot threads, one of a warring planet, the other highlighting xenophobia in the Enterprise's crew. The later I find really troubling and unfitting for a story of this era.

Much of the crew are shown to react badly to Spock's Vulcaness, even Pike, who plays the voice of reason to the firey Jose Tyler, is shown to be somewhat accepting of the crew's attitude - accepting an alien joining the crew is bound to increase tensions. Well personally this just doesn't work for me; the Vulcans have had good (if sometimes rocky) relations with Humans for two centuries by this time, they are hardly some shocking unknown. And if anyone in the Trekverse should be accepting of other cultures it’s a Starfleet crew, pushing forward the beliefs of the Federation into the galaxy. To have a Starfleet crew be so xenophobic seems entirely out of character to me.

The secondary plot also revolves around the story's resident Vulcan, in this case his Vulcaness acting as inspiration for violent world featured in the story to bring about peace and order. This part of the story works very well, and in the structure of the story balances the anti-Vulcan sentiments somewhat.

The artwork for this issue I feel is some of the least satisfying in a Trek comics from IDW so far. The book opens with a beautiful space shot but quickly goes down hill, the characters have an almost caricature appearance which is really off-putting. The backgrounds are more mixed, some work very well, others are just garish and annoying. The pink and green used throughout the issue is quite unpleasant, and an interesting contrast to the richer deeper green and red used in the Gorn issue which worked very well indeed.

The good points of this issue: a Pike era story, and an interesting and clever story with the guest aliens. Is this enough to balance the out-of-character xenophobia and unattractive artwork? I’m not sure, certainly far short of Marvel’s Pike-era stories in the Early Voyages series.

The Gorn issue started this series well, the Vulcan one is a less satisfactory continuation but not all bad. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series and certainly think the multiple creative teams approach is a good way to go for IDW. The one story per issue format has worked far more successfully in this series than The Space Between or even the ever improving Year Four minseries. And while not every issue will work for everyone one at least in this case we aren’t stuck with one writer or artist for six issues.

The series continues with the Andorians in fortnight or so.

The Deadly Years remastered have updated their remastered comparison gallery with a couple of new images for the episode The Deadly Years:

You can see these in higher resolution at

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

New covers

I have stumbled across a couple of new covers, from, we have the final cover for the Year Four comic miniseries, in Joe Corroney's cover for issue 5 (due this month):

And a colour version of the early 2008 book "Captain Kirk's Guide to Women":

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Silly Star trek products

In my desire to report the full spectrum of Star Trek stuff that pops up I begrudgingly bring to your attention the following ridiculous Star Trek products...

Planning to die soon? Head of to Sto-vo-kor in style with the forthcoming collection of Star Trek funeral products. For crematees a stylish Starfleet urn:

And for those who like the company of worms, why not lay to rest in a Star Trek casket, in the style of a photon torpedo! Genesis planet not included.

Both products will be available form Eternal Image next year.

For those still in the land of the living, why not enjoy a game of golf with putter styled after the Enterprise:

Available from's online shop soon.

Terok Nor covers

Jeff Ayers has released the individual (and likely final) covers for the Terok Nor trilogy on his Voyage of Imagination website. Interestingly the books seem to have also been classified as Lost Era books. The trilogy is out next year.

Retro wave 4

Diamond Select Toys have announced the details of the forth wave of retro TOS figures. This wave will consist of Scotty and a "Keeper", presumably a Talosian, an interesting likeness...

See the original announcement, here.

Vulcan Alien Spotlight preview

IDW have put up a five page preview of the second Alien Spotlight issue, focusing on the Vulcans, which comes out this week. This is a Pike era story set prior to The Cage shortly after Spock's transfer to the Enterprise it seems. Here's a pretty space page:

Covers: A & B
Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

The space stuff looks great, some of the character likenesses are a bit caricaturised, but perfectly accessible, and the varied and interesting layout is very refreshing. But most importantly, Pike era story! woo.

Interestingly one of the covers has changed since it's first preview release, it now seems to come without the great big fleet of Starfleet ships: