Friday 9 December 2011

Guide to the Gorn

IDW’s reprint of The Gorn Crisis came out this week, and Hollywood Collectables’ new Gorn statue is out too soon. Together with the Gorn’s growing presence in Trek literature, as part of the Typhon Pact, is seems like a good time to celebrate everyone’s favourite Trek reptiles (sorry Xindi).

The Gorn first appeared in 1967 in the first season TOS episode, Arena - A classic TOS morality tale, where what at first seems to be an unprovoked attack from an aggressive alien race, turns out to be a reaction to the Federation unknowingly invading their territory. The rubbery costume, designed by Wah Ming Chang, became an instant icon of Star Trek; perhaps equally loved and ridiculed to this day. That design got a minor update in 2006 when the remastered episode of Arena first aired; adding blinking eyelids to give a bit more life to the otherwise inanimate face.

The Gorn appeared twice more on screen: as a background character in the TAS episode The Time Trap, and more recently in the two-part mirror universe episode of Enterprise, In a Mirror, Darkly. The Enterprise version of the Gorn updated the design, using CGI to make a much more agile creature. This version also removed one of the more unique elements of the design; the metallic compound eyes, replaced with more typical reptilian eyes.

The new CGI Gorn from Enterprise.
A Gorn, or something Gorn inspired at least, almost made it into the new Star Trek movie too, but didn’t make the final cut:

Gorn inspired concept, from Star Trek: The Art of the Film.
But that is of course no end to the Gorn, because like any good Star Trek subject, they have appeared many a time in books, comics, and games.

The aforementioned, The Gorn Crisis, is probably the most intensively Gornish comic. Originally published in hardcover by WildStorm Comics in 2001, it features lavishly painted artwork by Igor Kordey. The story sees the Enterprise-E on a mission to the Gorn homeworld, hoping to enlist the Gorn in the fight against the Dominion, but ending up embroiled in a coup by a military faction.

Earlier Marvel Comics published the Gorn-centric Dying of the Light, one of two stories in the first issue of their Star Trek: Unlimited series. This story sees Kirk and the original Gorn captain from Arena coming face to face again when a Federation anthropologist defiles an ancient Gorn funeral planet.

More recently IDW have gone Gorn with an Alien Spotlight dedicated to the race, seeing yet another misunderstanding with Starfleet on a Gorn planet, this time in the TOS movie era, featuring the pre-Wrath of Kahn crew of the Reliant. The Gorn also appear in the finale of the Burden of Knowledge series, where are a whole army of cloned Gorn face off against other cloned beings.

In Star Trek prose the Gorn are playing a big role in the leading edge of 24th century stories as part of the Federation’s new adversary, the Typhon Pact. Exploring their role in that alliance is, Seize the Fire, featuring a deep space encounter between the Gorn and the USS Titan, and exploration of the various Gorn castes - Some of which have been previously hinted at in other books and comics, but this novel really fleshes it out, and factors in the variety of Gorn physiology seen between TOS and Enterprise.

The Gorn have previously featured in the TNG novel Requiem, which sees Captain Picard lost back in time on Cestus III, the planet the Gorn attacked back in Arena. The Gorn also turned up in the SCE novella Where Time Stands Still, a sequel to the TAS episode they previously appeared in.

In the world of Star Trek games the Gorn featured as major race in the Starfleet Command series. In Star Trek Online the Gorn of the 25th century have become subjects of the Klingon Empire, one of several other species available to play in the Klingon part of the game.

If reading about, or virtual play with, Gorn isn’t enough for you, there are also many Gorn toys to play with. Perhaps most notoriously the first Gorn figure came from Mego; but rather than bother to make something truly Gorny, they recycled the mould from a super hero lizard figure, made it brown, and gave it the costume from their Klingon figure! When DST more recently began making reproductions of the Mego figures, rather than recreate this non-Gorn, they made a whole new Mego-style Gorn figure, which actually looks like a Gorn!

The original and remade Mego Gorns
Plenty of other toy and collectable makers have done their own Gorn since. The best has to be DST’s version, which is superbly sculpted. The original is a bit pricey these days, but there’s a more recent reissue, partnered with battle damaged kirk!

A variety of Gorn figurines: Playmates 5" and 12" toys, DST's version with battle damaged Kirk, The first 3" minimates Gorn and the later 2" version, Funko's Wacky Wobbler and Nodniks Gorn, and the new Hollywood Collectables statue.
And if playing with little Gorns just isn’t enough for you, then you can always be one yourself, with this handy Gorn mask:

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