Hey gang! After a few tech glitches (and a frantic holiday schedule), I’m finally getting this out! Actually, I almost missed this issue of Star Trek; I swear it wasn’t on my pull-list when I looked Wednesday, but I happened to check Comixology for something else (later in the week) and there it was! So…here I am.
You probably noticed my new avatar (above), which comes courtesy of my good friend M. Anthony Gerardo on Facebook; he runs a page called Star Trek Comics Across Generations, (as well as several others), and he was kind enough to create it for me). Ever since NYTBS Dayton Ward created a character-namesake for me (Lt. Eric Cone) in Star Trek: The Fall – ‘Peaceable Kingdoms,’ I’ve wanted an avatar of me in a red shirt! (My character in that TNG novel wears gold, but I’m an old-school Trekkie; I prefer the TOS era, and – I’m the equivalant of a ‘redshirt’ who didn’t die!) The only thing I asked, was that he include my hat… I think it turned out pretty cool!
Now, then… Let’s checkout issue 51 of LIVE^EVIL, eh…
Published by IDW, LIVE^EVIL is written by Mike Johnson; the art is by Tony Shasteen and colored by Davide Mastrolonardo, with lettering-credits going to Neil Uyetake. Sarah Gaydos is the editor, with Roberto Orci consulting. Release date: November 25, 2015.
Lieutenant’s Log: After a remarkable opening in #50, the U.S.S. Enterprise and crew find themselves hundreds of lightyears from their previous position; thrown into the Ceti Alpha system, they find life forms on Ceti Alpha V (a planet known to be unoccupied). Answering a desperate hail from the planet (asking for mercy), Captain Kirk leads a landing party down to the surface to figure out what the hell is going on. Imagine his surprise, when he finds himself face-to-face with John Harrison – er…make that Khan Noonien Singh!
Meanwhile, Spock finds their circumstances aboard Enterprise spiraling out of control, as a ship decloaks off of their starboard bow. The appearance of the I.S.S. Enterprise has them all shaking their heads; especially, when a goateed Captain Spock (and, faithful servant of the Terran Empire) demands that our Spock surrender! Boasting superior technology and weapons, Captain Spock makes short-work out of subduing our crew and taking over our Enterprise…
In another twist, Captain Kirk (of the Terran Empire, whom – presumably died in issue 16) is alive and well on Arronia II; in a totally surprising meet-up with Harry Mudd, Kirk vows to retake his ship away from Spock…
The Story: Issue 51 is a stellar continuance of this story arc! Our Captain Kirk faces what he believes is a deadly enemy to the Federation, and – yet, he’s forced to trust Khan (who goes by Singh in this parallel universe); Singh claims to be a peaceful leader to his augmented people. After Captain Spock lays waste to Ceti Alpha V’s surface, (in an effort to wipeout Singh’s colony), Kirk has no choice but to believe him. Singh has a card up his sleeve, though: the Botany Bay. Kirk and party, hitching a ride, goes along with Singh as he makes all possible haste to Qo’nos.
Aboard Captain Spock’s Enterprise, Commander Spock tries to buy some time; but Captain Spock isn’t easily duped and he takes the first officer to (a terraformed and completely unrecognizable) planet Vulcan. It’s there, that Sarek will continue Spock’s interrogation…
Aboard Enterprise (currently enroute to Earth for a major refit with Imperial technological upgrades), the evil Sulu is in command. However, things quickly change when a mohawked Pavel Chekov ‘gives himself a promotion.’
It all leads up to a face-to-face (albeit inevitable, and predictable) encounter, between two legends in the making…
My Take: First-off, this was a spectacular bridge issue, setting things up nicely for the conclusion, next month. The story flowed smoothly from one locale to another, there were plenty of plot twists and action, many questions were answered (while others remain titillatingly elusive, and it was fun watching our crew sparring with their evil doppelgängers aboard the Enterprises. Mike Johnson has me totally intrigued and I’m anxious to see how these events will play themselves out.
Now, having said that, I do have a few questions; in fact, I contacted Mike Johnson to get some clarification and he answered me in-part, so I’ll address this first. In this version of the ‘mirror universe’ John Harrison doesn’t exist, yet – Benedict Cumberbatch’s likeness is used to represent Khan. My question was: Why did you decide not to use Ricardo Montalbán’s image for Khan? Johnson’s response: “As for Khan, we decided to use Cumberbatch because we wanted to keep it in the new movie universe.” Ok. I can live with that answer, as it might be confusing to the ‘new’generation of Star Trek fans. Although, it would have been badass (in my opinion) to’ve seen Montalbán’s Khan in this story; and it might have asssuaged some of the butthurt ‘older’ fans still feel with Into Darkness.
In Johnson’s previous sojourn into the Terran Empire (issues 15 & 16), Kirk and Scotty were left for dead, the Enterprise had been destroyed, Uhura had taken command of the Narada (yes, that Narada…), Captain Spock was on an unterraformed Vulcan – with an older ‘prime’ Spock (?) and we were left with the assumption that things on Earth were about to be radically changed.
In this storyline, Spock is back in command of Enterprise, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu and Chekov are back in uniform under his command, Kirk and Scotty are alive and, there’s no mention of Narada or ‘prime’ Spock, whatsoever. When I asked Mike Johnson if this story was a direct continuation of the events in the earlier ‘mirror’ timeline, he never responded. So…I’m not sure what to think; especially, as ‘mirror’ Kirk mentions those events, here. Maybe, Johnson will elaborate on this, at a later date.
As for the art in this issue, I’m having a tough time finding adjectives that voice how phenomenal (I think) Shasteen and Mastrolonardo’s work is! I’m totally loving how they have made the ‘evil’ counterparts so different from the characters we’re used to seeing: specifically, Spock’s awesome (if not, iconic) goatee and mustache, Chekov’s mohawk, Scotty’s (forgive me) ‘porn’stache and soulpatch, Uhura’s butch-cut hairstyle; even the I.S.S. Enterprise has a very formidable-looking grace to her. The differences are just subtle-enough to make it all work.
And, my God… Checkout that incredible cover, folks! (I had to show it to you – again!) This is truly above-and-beyond! Indeed, I’m so taken with its brilliance, that I’m sending it out this week to get Mr. Shasteen’s signature…
Overall: I am loving this entire adventure – (in spite of the continuity issues I talked about). Mike Johnson knows (and loves) his Trek; Shasteen, Mastrolonardo and Uyetake damn-sure know how to put it down on those pages! This is a winner, all the way around!
‘Til, next time, see ya ‘out there…’
Lt. Eric Cone