Thursday, 27 March 2008

Alien Spotlight: Borg and Romulan reviews

A wee bit late... but to complete my collection of reviews for this outstanding miniseries from IDW, here are my thoughts on the final Alien Spotlight issues:

The Borg
I best declare my interests before I get going on this one; I love the Borg, unlike many of my fellow Trekkies I have absolutely no problem with how they've been developed over the years and welcome any new story to feature them. So I awaited this issue eagerly - And boy was it worth the wait. By far the strongest issue in the entire Alien Spotlight miniseries, and quite possible the best from IDW Star Trek to date, the Borg issues delivers on every level.

The story is, if you read it too quickly (as my first over eager zooming read was) is a little technobableful. But if you take it at a sensible pace it makes sense (as much as technobable can) and is a very interesting premise; The future Borg, having successfully reached perfection decide the only way they can improve things further would be to send a wave of assimilation back through time and assimilate everyone and everything at the genetic level from year dot. Fortunately for our intrepid heroes on the Enterprise-E the Borgs’ method provides enough warning to do something about it.

The issues features guest appearances from two other starships, Admiral Janeway, Captain Amasov, Species 8472, Guinan, Geordi's VISOR and a neat tie in, via time travel, to the Borg's early incursions along the Romulan neutral zone (as investigated in the episode "The Neutral Zone" and seen in a Marvel comic "Operation: Assimilation")

The story concludes with Picard essentially talking the Borg out of it, which might sound ridiculous but works perfectly, very Picard. The only thing close to wrong with this story is there is so much happening, one feels it could have easily expanded to two or three issues. That said unlike some of IDW's other Trek comics the book doesn't suffer for this, it might be packed in, but it doesn't jump about and become nonsensical in the slightest.

Perhaps even better than the story, the artwork for this issue is exceptional. Beautiful, elegant and superbly stylised, every element of the artwork in the issue shines, the strong lines of starships and scenery, the exotic alien landscapes, dynamic and easy to read characters, and some delightful subtle colouring - everything is spot on.

I hope to see a lot more from both the writer Andrew Steven Harris (time permitting from his Trek editorial role) and artist Sean Murphy. Both have delivered a truly exceptional issue. If you buy one Star Trek comic this year, make it this one.

The Romulans
The final issue of this series features the Romulans, another favourite Trek alien race of mine, so another much anticipated issue. And to my great pleasure another successful piece of work from the IDW team. This issue was written and illustrated by John Byrne, a noted comic creator so IDW promotions have repeatedly told me in the months leading up to this release. For better or worse my knowledge of comics is very much limited to Star Trek comics so the name along is not enough to woo me into blind praise. Thankfully, for the most part, Byrne delivers the promised goods.

The story for this issue is that of a prequel, as made clear in said promotions to the first Romulan episode Balance of Terror, but to my surprise and great pleasure also to the episode The Enterprise Incident as this issue sets up the Klingon Romulan alliance first observed in that episode. The plot essentially follows two people, the Romulan commander, solemnly doing his duty, and the new Romulan praetor.

This is a story that's been itching to be told since Balance of Terror aired; the background of the Romulan commander. This issue introduces us to his friends and family and gives us an incite into his mindset; loyal to the empire, and resigned to his fate. The secondary tale of the praetor and the formation of the alliance with the Klingons was a welcome surprise and one I'd love to see expanded upon in future issues (fingers crossed for something in the forthcoming Enterprise Experiment miniseries which is to features both races)

Where the story shines, the artwork fails to step up to the mark. While very little can said to be bad per say, the look of the entire issue is very dated. It would perhaps well less so if it didn’t stand in such strong contrast to the rest of the miniseries and indeed the rest of IDW's Star Trek output which is distinctly contemporary. I feel Byrnes forthcoming Assignment Earth miniseries will benefit from it's setting so far detached from the rest of the Trekverse where this dated look might actually work quite well, but for this issue I feel it's just underwhelming.

All that said the art does it's job, and is certainly bold and colourful, which I’m sure many would argue favours it's TOS setting. The story is strong enough to pull it all through and the whole book is an enjoyable read.

The miniseries
So, six issues done and dusted how did Alien Spotlight fare? Very well indeed, this has perhaps finally bettered IDWs early great success with Klingons: Blood Will Tell. With the exception of the slightly mundane first issue on the Gorn the series delivers some very very strong stories, with the diversity of settings, subjects and creators preventing the series ever coming close to stagnation and every issue clearly showing a complete and engaging story can be pulled of in twenty-two pages with no problems at all - putting The Space Between and Year Four to shame.

I eagerly await the next Alien Spotlight series, and have a host of new writers and artists I would love to see IDW use again. If you haven’t picked them up individually I thoroughly recommend getting the omnibus book when it comes out. Alien Spotlight the best IDW has given us so far, you won’t be disappointed.

2009 calendar details have released the first details of next year's Star Trek calendars. As it was this year there will be two calendars in 2009, an Original Series one and a Ships of the Line one.
The TOS calendar will feature the usual assortment of promo photos and captures from the episodes and films with a CGI centerfold image by Robert Bonchune (new feature? I haven’t a clue as I've never even looked at these promo shot collections... this year, I shall). Here's the cover Amazon have up for it:
The far more exciting Ships of the Line calendar, full of lovely new original images will "feature several TOS Enterprises (original and refit), a TMP Vulcan shuttle, Shuttle Galileo, DS9’s Defiant, a Species 8472 ship, USS Voyager, a Klingon Bird of Prey, the Enterprise D, and a new TNG era ship designed by Andy Probert". TrekMovie have posted one of the images featuring a Vulcan shuttle about to dock with the Enterprise (given it's square format this is presumably the cover - Amazon have another cover up but that's just a mock-up from one of this year's images). And this image of a Constitution class model in what looks rather like a wind tube, doing a "warp test" apparently:
Make your way to TrekMovie for the other Ships of the Line image and full list of the contributing artists (and a little history of Star Trek calendars). Unless TrekMovie release it earlier too, the backcover image for the calendars will probably show up on the net about August time, so there’s something for us to look forward to…

Sunday, 23 March 2008

TOS Season 2 remastered DVD release

TV shows on DVD have reported the not so long ago cancelled second season of remastered TOS episodes will be released in August. But, only on standard definition DVD for now. No news yet on what extra features that will come with or when anything Star Trek will find it's way onto the winning high def format bluray. Presumably this release is the DVD side of the combo disc release the season was originally to get on the now dead HD-DVD.

New Frontier: Turnaround #3 art

Artist Stephen Thompson has recently posted on his blog this black and white cover art for the third issue of the New Frontier miniseries Turnaround:

While Chris Ryall has posted some coloured interior pages, including this one:

You can see another interior page at the original post on RyallTime, and a bunch of art from the series at Stephen Thompson's blog, including black and white and colour versions of the recently revealed cover of the forth issue, and black and white interior pages form the first issue.

Monday, 17 March 2008

New feature

If you look to your right, just under the Starfleet delta emblem and my little intro to the site, you can find a new feature; "Reaching Maturation". I've noticed I tend to report the announcements of new products, but tend not to make note of when they actually become available - well now I do.

I'll do my best to keep that up to date with the releases for the current and next month. Books and comics are reasonably easy to keep track of, DST's releases seem a bit more flexible but hopefully it will point you in the right direction.

IDW June releases

Comics Continuum have posted IDW's solicitations for June, which includes four Star Trek titles, among them the first issue of the mirror universe miniseries Mirror Images and the first look at the cover for the forth issue of the New Frontier miniseries Turnaround:

NF: Turnaround #4
Nothing in the previous issues has been what it seemed as the true hijacker of the Paradox stands revealed, and Captain Calhoun finds himself face-to-face with the mastermind behind the entire plot. There are only two questions to be faced: Can he stop his opponent... and does he even want to?

TOS: Year Four: The Enterprise Experiment #3
The untold fourth year of the Enterprise's legendary five-year mission continues! A mysterious discovery on Loren 5 sets the stage for conflict between the Klingon Empire and the Federation. With the sudden absence of Organian intervention between the two powers, it could mean all out war. Now the crew of the Enterprise find themselves caught up in a race to discover the true nature of the secrets of Loren 5, as well as why the Organians have disappeared.

TOS: Assignment Earth #2
The first-ever Star Trek series from Byrne continues! Telling the story of the Assignment: Earth Trek spin-off from Gene Roddenberry that never came to pass, a time-traveling U.S.S. Enterprise intersects with Gary Seven's efforts to save the future from a 1969 crisis that only he and his assistant Roberta can avert!

TOS: Mirror Images #1
IDW Publishing's Star Trek: Second Stage continues! A story from one of the most popular corners of Star Trek canon, the Mirror Universe! In the "Mirror, Mirror" episode from The Original Series, an evil Kirk commanded the I.S.S. Enterprise for the Terran Empire. But how did he rise to power, in a universe where treachery is rewarded as much as accomplishment? Witness Mirror-Kirk's plot to unseat Captain Pike and seize command!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Day of the Vipers excerpt

Trekweb have got themselves an excerpt from the soon to be released Terok Nor prelude book Day of the Vipers, by James Swallow.

On Trekweb's posting you can find a whole chapter, so go forth, and read.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

DST Enterprise-D to feature saucer separation

Diamond Select Toys have announced some details on their forthcoming Enterprise-D model (which was revealed for the first time not long ago at the US Toy Fair). Along with the typical array of lights and sounds one might expect from a DST ship they have also announced a new and much anticipated feature; DST's new Enterprise will feature saucer separation!

The ship will be out in September. See DST's original announcement, here.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Peter David on Turnaround

Newsarama have posted an interview with Peter David in which he talks about New Frontier; it's development, the previous New Frontier comic, Double Time, and of course the new miniseries, Turnaround. He provided some new information on the forthcoming miniseries:

"when we first introduced New Frontier, we had a core cast of characters and they were all on the Excalibur. As time as progressed, a number of them have moved on to different venues, as happens in life. And all those venues appear in the miniseries: Calhoun and Co. on the Excalibur, Robin Lefler and Kalinda on New Thallon, Shelby on Bravo Station, Kat Mueller on the Trident, and Soleta on her ship, the Specter."

"It features the full range of seriousness and humor that is integral to New Frontier, ranging from Calhoun witnessing the gut-wrenching and brutal death of a key New Frontier cast member, to the mountainous Zak Kebron endeavoring to extract information from an unwilling individual by making him sit through a slide show of every vacation Kebron's family ever went on.

Plus, for the very first time, we'll be visualizing key characters such as Morgan Primus, answering questions that New Frontier fans have had going back years. It's a can't-miss for longtime New Frontier fans. And for people who have never read it, it will serve as a great introduction to the characters."

The article also came with this new page of art:

UPDATE: And to trump that art, Newsarama have also posted the first five pages, with text for the first time. Go here to read it.

Future Manga details have posted a review of Tokyopop's Star Trek manga efforts so far and announced details of what's to come. Here's the lowdown:

The third book, Aratanaru Michi He, will be 192 pages long, featuring four 45 page stories (rather than five slightly shorter ones like the previous volumes). The stories are:

Bandi, by David Gerrold with art by Don Hudson -"a light-hearted story, and will feature Kirk trying to control his anger."

Art of War, by Wil Wheaton with art by EJ Su - "[showing] Kirk dealing with his hatred of Klingons, but for the first time sympathizing too (foreshadowing the peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingons)."

Inalienable Rights, by Nathaniel Bowden with art by Heidi Arnold. "a tale of morality about a first contact with a race that is not yet ready and will focus more on Scotty."

Sonata, by Luis Reyes with art by Nate Wilson. "tells a story of Spock in command and finding it lonely at the top."

TrekMovie also released this cover art for the book:

After that book (out in July) Tokyopop will finally be getting to some TNG manga (which was initially what they were going to start with but was put on hold for TOS's 40th anniversary - find out more about that, here). Two books are already on the way, the first, with contributions by Diane Duane, David Gerrold, Christine Boylan, and FJ DeSanto will be out in October and the second in February next year.

Hallmark's 2008 ornaments have uncovered what this year's range of Star Trek Christmas tree ornaments from Hallmark will be. The line, which is entirely TOS focused, will consist of; The USS Reliant from Wrath of Kahn, Kirk covered in a pile of tribbles from The Trouble with Tribbles, and a TOS communicator. All come with some sort of light and/or sound feature.

Get the full details, along with some rather fuzzy pictures, at TrekMovie's original article.

Friday, 7 March 2008

By Any Other Name remastered

TrekMovie have been sent the following images from the latest remastered episode "By Any Other Name". Look, a shinny new matte painting:

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Joe Corroney Gathers Intelligence

On his myspace blog Joe Corroney has released his cover for the forth issue of the Intelligence Gathering miniseries.

If you go to his blog post you can also see a slightly more finished version of his previously seen Mirror Images cover artwork.

The Enterprise Experiment cover

Via TrekWeb IDW have released the Sharp Brothers' cover for issue three of Year Four: The Enterprise Experiment:

You can see an earlier black and white version of it, here.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

eBooks taking a rest

Keith R.A. DeCandido has announced some sad news; the Star Trek eBooks line is coming to an end, or at the very least taking a hiatus, with this month’s release of the final part of Slings and Arrows being the final original eBook to be released.

The remaining Corps of Engineers books and the miniseries Mere Anarchy and Slings and Arrows will all eventually see physical compilation releases, with Mere Anarchy currently planned for release next year. Ebook editions of novels and other books will also continue, but the line of original novellas is no more.

See KRADs announcement, here.

First Destiny blurb have posted a blurb for Gods of the Night, the first book in the Destiny crossover trilogy out later this year:

The Borg return -- with a vengeance! Blitzkreig attacks by the single-minded aliens with their hive mentality and their mission to assimilate every intelligent being they encounter are leaving whole worlds aflame. No one knows how they are slipping past Starfleet's defences, so Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise crew are detailed to find out -- and to put a stop to it if they can.

Meanwhile, thousands of light years away, Captain Will Riker and the crew of the Titan follow bizarre energy pulses to a mysterious, hidden world. There they find a figure out of legend: a Starfleet captain long thought dead. And at the same time, over in the Gamma Quadrant, newly promoted Captain Dax and her crew investigate the wreck of the Earth starship Columbia NX-02, missing in action for more than two centuries. also recently provided some details on the trilogy, their description (in this article) was as follows:

The first book, Star Trek: Destiny: Gods of Night will feature the crews of the Enterprise-E and Titan, as well as some of the DS9 relaunch cast and a ‘notable persona’ from the past. Book two, Mere Mortals is set in two separate times, while book three, Lost Souls promises a look at the distant past and a forging of the future of the Star Trek literary universe.

Thanks to ZoeZhang on the TrekBBS who tracked down the Amazon blurb and posted it in this post on said forums, where a cheerful debate about the Borg returning again is currently underway. More Borg the better if you ask me, and nice use of the Ships of the Line image of the crashed Columbia too.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Star Trek: The Manga 3 details starting to appear

The first details of Tokyopop's third Star Trek manga book are starting to appear on various online book shops. The volume will be titled Aratanaru Michi He, David Gerold and EJ Su will be contributors and it will be published in July (a little earlier than the previous books which both came out in September). It will have 192 pages, it's ISBN will be 1427807876, and that, is all we know.