Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Official Comic Adaptation Review
•Marie Severin (Colorist) • Bob Tarkin (Cover Artist)
• IDW Publishing (Publisher)
I feel really old saying that it's been about 20 years since I watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It's even stranger considering that the film is over 40 years old. I didn't recall much of the film aside from the crew wearing grey uniforms (for some reason) and the antagonist being a living space ship. I also remember being bored out of my mind watching the movie.
Thankfully, I had a good time with the comic adaptation and will probably rewatch the film on the strength of this read. I may be bored but at least now I can properly process what was going on.
The reprint is in an oversized magazine format. It's not quite as nice as DC Black Label but the presentation is still pretty slick and the $5.99 cover price for the 65-page book is really attractive. This is absolutely counter to Marvel producing $10 preview books in the current year.
The book opens with Spock going through a ritual that I assume is akin to Buddist Nirvana on earth. He fails the passage as he is unable to completely purge himself of human feelings and emotions.
While this is taking place a large and mysterious cloud appears and immediately destroys a fleet of Klingons. The attack sends shockwaves throughout Federation space as it's revealed that the cloud is approaching earth and will arrive in three days.
The alert puts pressure on the crew of the newly remodeled Enterprise and brings Admiral Kirk back into the fold as he has been granted command of the ship. This immediately puts Kirk at odds with Deckard, a young Captain who is talented but yet to be tested.
The book brings new characters into the fold as well as the old crew. They unite to tackle a problem that seems bigger than anything the crew has faced before.
I won't spoil any of the key plot points of the book or film as I expect that most of the readers of this blog have either not seen the film in an extremely long time or not at all. The pretentious hope is that this review inspires a revisit.
Marv Wolfman pulls double duty writing and editing the book and does a great job in trimming the fat of the film. The story is really concise and at no point did I feel bored. I enjoyed the characterization of the leads. I also really liked the implication that Kirk's obsession with the Enterprise is what lead him to undermine Deckard and strip him of the captain's chair. The charges are levied at Kirk several times and he never outright denies it. I think that adds a layer of complexity to the character that rarely comes across in these stories.
Spocks also gets an interesting journey that runs parallel to the entity that comes to be known as V'ger. It's a powerful existential crisis that raises a lot of interesting questions about the nature of life and higher purpose. However, due to limitations related to the medium, the emotional hook doesn't land and didn't resonate with me beyond a surface level.
Dave Cockrum & Klaus Janson do a great job conveying the characters and the action of the script when it comes to dynamics in and surrounding the Enterprise. The tension of the situation comes across and the stakes are accurately conveyed via the art direction and overall storytelling. The only complaint I have has nothing to do with the art and more of the limitation of comics at the time. The book doesn't accurately convey the scale of the threat and feels reductive in spots. I'm not sure what the solution would have been, but the vastness of the threat does not come across at any point in the comic. There are some attempts to create scale but short of bringing in Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko I'm not sure if conveying the situation was possible.
Overall, this adaptation was a great read and I think any casual or hardcore Star Trek fan will enjoy it. It does a great job of scaling the story back to a reasonable level even though some of the scope and scale of the material is lost in translation.