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Star Trek #2 Review

Samuel A. Peeples original Star Trek pilot teleplay, "Where No Man Has Gone Before" is, in a word, fascinating. After the first pilot, with the late Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike, failed to excited network executives to greenlight a series some retooling was done. Costume changes, set changes. Most importantly of all were the cast changes. Gone was Hunter's Pike as captain of the USS Enterprise, replaced by William Shatner's Kirk. The female Number One, played by series creator Gene Roddenberry's wife Majel Barrett, replaced by Leonard Nimoy's Spock - seen in the first pilot as more of a background character. John Hoyt as Dr. Philip Boyce was gone, replace by Paul Fix as Life Sciences Director Mark Piper and psychologist Dr.Elizabeth Dehner. It is not hard to imagine that Star Trek would go one to become a cult favorite on college campuses among students and professors, producing the fondness seen even on the CBS sitcom, The Big Bang Theory.

IDW's ongoing Star Trek series breaks up an updating of the classic "Where No Man Has Gone Before" in the first two issues. Star Trek #2 features the conclusion. Mike Johnson's update of Samuel A. Peeples' features a few more detail changes than those between the original story and the first pilot, "The Cage". Life Sciences Director Mark Piper is gone, along with Communications Officer Alden and Yeoman Smith. Kelso and Mitchell are relief for Checkov and Sulu, the later was seen in the original as Ship's Physicist. Yeoman Rand, who later replaced Yeoman Smith as a series regular has not made an appearance yet. Possibly the most significant change is the absence of Dr. Elizabeth Dehner. When Kirk faces the inner conflict over what to do about his best friend, his first officer Spock advises that he take extreme measures. The previous issues ends with Spock telling Kirk, "Kill him. While you STILL CAN." In the original story, Dehner's voice was an emotional one, much like Dr. McCoy's, to preserve and observe Mitchell to see what he has become and the extent of his abilities. Since this is the development of Kirk and Spock's relationship as Captain and First Officer, and the trust between them is hard forged through this debate and the conflict seen in the 2009, J. J. Abrams' film, it's surprising that there isn't a voice to counter-balance or debate Spock's. Kirk is left with the simple, basic question of whether or not to trust Spock.

The other significance of Dehner's absence is that it leaves a major void. Uhura proved a strong female personality with light-hearted touches in the film. Here, it seems that even in a perfect, utopian future chauvanism survives. McCoy alludes to some offense that puts off Dehner's transfer request. Dehner was a female lead in the orignal, here there isn't one.

There are a few minor changes to the basic storyline. In the brig on Delta Vega, Gary has no problem escaping his cell. There is no evidence of his weakening or growing strength against the energy of the cell. In the original, Mitchell, sensing the plot against him, uses a cable to strangle Kelso. Here, after he escapes his cell, and disables Kirk and Spock, he makes Kelso's demise up close and personal. Instead of medical assistance in reviving the captain and first officer, it's Scotty. There is also no further conflict between Kirk and Spock. In the original Spock requested a laser rifle transported down. Here, for efficiency, Spock as part of the landing party, transports down with one in hand. The same one that Kirk takes to go after Mitchell.

Stephen Molnar's visuals are pretty good at updating the original story. When Kirk catches up to Mitchell, not only does he offer the captain the Kaffeerian apple he originally offered Dehner, but shows Kirk where he came from, the Iowa bar, Starfleet's testing facility. In the original, Dehner used her developing abilities to counteract Mitchell. here that doesn't happen. What does happen serves to solidify Kirk and Spock's friendship.

The only nagging question I have about the story is, How are Kirk and Mitchell old friends? The film shows a reckless, adrenaline-junky, punk Kirk. It appears that he may have had only one friend through Starfleet Academy - McCoy, who is conspicuous by his absence throughout this story. Here was an ooportunity to really explore Kirk's relationships. Spock. McCoy. Mitchell. Across two issues all this did was take the original story and change a few minor details. 

Still, as a long-time Star Trek fan, this was a really enjoyable read. If the classic, original series were not streaming either on Netflix or CBS.com, and I had never seen an episode before the 2009 film, this would be a cool first story and jumping on point. As Scotty said on the bridge in the film, "I like THIS ship!"    


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