From the first few pages we are introduced to a much darker version of The Original Series, with the antagonist of the story, Beckwith, a drug dealer on the Enterprise, having signed on to starship duty to gather riches from exotic worlds and retire early to a life of luxury - A stark contrast to the good natured humans of the Starfleet we have come to know over the decades since this script was first written.
Beckwith takes the place of McCoy in the story as we know it from the television episode, and in doing so changes the tone throughout. Now we are not on a mission rescue a friend, we are out to stop a dangerous distasteful criminal (and in either case correct the timeline).
|The mysterious and ethereal Guardians of Forever
|A tense exchange between Kirk and Spock
The overall pacing of the story is quite different, we don't meet Keeler until half way though, however Kirk and Keeler's relationship is quickly cemented once we do, so there is no huge impact from her later introduction. Before we travel back in time there is a sequence set aboard an alternate timeline ship that has replaced the Enterprise. With the rest of the out of time landing party left on this ship to fight off some nasty humans, this is used as imputes for Kirk and Spock to get on with the mission and rescue their imperilled crewmates. I can see why this was chopped out of the episode as we know it, it seems a bit of a distraction really, from just getting on and fixing the timeline. The ending is also extended slightly, with a particularly nasty ending for Beckwith, and a little more time for Kirk and Spock to reflect on the events they had been apart of.
|Woodward's beautiful, surreal, and visceral art from the finale
I was quite surprised just how different this story is to the episode. The willingness to explore flaws in humanity, and the ambiguity about good and evil at an individual level and as well as the impact on history, makes it seem very contemporary. In comparison the episode seems quite romanticised. But that also makes it more like the Star Trek we know. Gone is the Voyage Home-like humour of our temporally displaced heroes, as is the moment of triumph and comradery of the reunion of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. The original teleplay, as seen in the comic, doesn't feel like the cheery light-hearted hopeful version of The Original Series we tend to recognise in retropect, but it does feel at home in the wider world of Star Trek we know now, which has not shied from going into darkness, allowing the ideals of Star Trek to shine in contrast.
|Issue 5 cover by Juan Ortiz
The City on the Edge of Forever was written by Harlan Ellison, and adapted to comic book form by Scott and David Tipton. The stunning artwork was painted by J.K. Woodward, and the series also featuring retro covers by Juan Ortiz (I particularly favour the bright blue final issue), and more painterly alternate covers by Paul Shipper.
If you've not been picking up the individual issues, the complete series will be released in a hardcover omnibus book in February.