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New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics Review

Posted by T'Bonz - 08/08/14 at 09:08 am


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The Book:

New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics features almost two dozen articles on various aspects of Star Trek comics; from the earliest ones published to recently-published comics.

Beginning with a foreword by David Gerrold (The Trouble With Tribbles), the structure of the book is as follows:

  • Wand’ring in Star Flight: An IntroductionJoseph F. Berenato
  • Gold Key: The First Frontier for Star Trek ComicsScott Tipton
  • From Casual Galactic Genocide to Self-Referential Canon: Gold Key’s Star Trek and the Evolution of a FranchiseJulian Darius
  • Flaming Nacelles and Giant Snails: The Unique Culture of the British Star Trek Comics 1969-1973Alan J. Porter
  • The Action “Comes Alive’ as You Read!!” On Peter Pan Records’ Star Trek StoriesJulian Darius
  • Inside the Lines and Outside the Box: Star Trek Storytelling for Young Minds (and Tummies) – Kevin Dilmore
  • Faith of the Art – Stripping Down the Star Trek Daily Newspaper Serials – Rich Handley
  • Restricted Areas: Marvel’s First Star Trek – Jim Beard
  • Star Trek the Right Way: On the Mirror Universe Saga - Colin Smith
  • Star Trek: Feminism, and the First Three Years at DC Comics - Ian Dawe
  • Capturing Lightning in a Four-Color Bottle: Bringing Comic Life to The Next Generation – Robert Greenberger
  • How to Make a Star Trek Comic Book: Deep Space Nine at Malibu – Tom Mason
  • New Opportunities: New Missions: Star Trek’s Return to Marvel Comics - Dayton Ward
  • Embracing the Entire Universe: The WildStorm Era – Keith R.A. DeCandido
  • These are the Manga Voyages of the Starship Enterprise – Mark Martinez
  • Excalibur is Drawn: A Journey into Peter David’s New Frontier – Martin A Perez
  • The Necessity of Star Trek: Countdown and Other Movie Tie-ins – Cody Walker
  • Same New Worlds: Reimagining Classic Star Trek Adventures for a New Generation – Joseph F. Berenato
  • To Boldly Cross Over: Transporting the Enterprise to Other Comic UniversesDavid A. McIntee
  • Appendix: The Unpublished and Rejected Star Trek Comics – Rich Handley
  • About the Contributors

New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics is more than a listing or plot description of Star Trek comics over time, ranging from the original series through the Abrams-verse. The articles cover the politics of comic writing (and selling), the artwork and artists involved in creating the comics, how true (or not) comics were to the Trek series, feminism, crossover series, movies tie-ins and more.

While it was true that too often Star Trek comics, especially in the early days, suffered from unTrek-like stories and characters that didn’t quite look like the familiar Trek actors, there were some good stories told, especially in recent years.

Some comics had limited runs in newspapers and were missed by the audience that might have loved them, while others were more readily available. Comics also appeared with records, or as part of promotional deals with fast-food franchises.

The crossovers sought to bring a new audience to Star Trek, and movie tie-ins were meant to flesh out the on-screen characters a bit more. Some of these comics worked, some didn’t.

In New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, the New Frontier series of comics were compared to the New Frontier novels, and as with other Trek comics over the years, some worked well, while others didn’t.

Modern comics, from Manga to the Abrams-verse tie-in comics are explored, and reasons given why Manga Trek was short-lived.

The book concludes with a listing of comics that were either unpublished or rejected and reasons, if known, where given as to why they didn’t see the light of day.

The Review:

I have to admit this up front; I’m not a big comic book fan. Sure, I read Archie and Richie Rich in my youth, but many comics aimed at someone over ten were not to my liking; featuring action heroes or shoot-’em-ups. They were very male-oriented, to my mind.

When I discovered Trek comics, I didn’t get hooked on them either in spite of my love of Star Trek and everything associated with it. Why not? From what little I saw, the stories didn’t read like televised episodes, and frankly, the characters didn’t look like the crew that I was used to seeing on television. The last was a deal-killer for me at the time.

The later comics seemed more interesting and accurate, such as the tie-ins with Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek into Darkness, but as a natural speed-reader, spending money on something I could read in ten minutes just seemed a bit futile.

But - New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics did one thing, it finally interested me in what was out there when it came to Trek comics. The book was not a gushing tribute to the wonderful comics over the years as one might have expected, but a realistic assessment of them, pointing out the flaws as well as the positive things about them. Various authors noted the bad representations of characters at times (in what Trek-verse is Sulu black and Uhura a white blonde?), and some rather substandard stories. But there were enough good stories documented to pique my interest.

For someone who has always been a fan of the Trek comics, buying this book is a no-brainer. It’s a handy reference guide with titles and descriptions of stories provided. For those Trek fans who have shrugged off the comics, the book is a fascinating read which may well ignite interest in seeing some of them (some comics are compiled together in several books available on Amazon). At the very least, one gets a rather comprehensive history of the Trek comics.

Being a visual person, I’d have preferred even more photos than were provided, but with the book running to almost three hundred pages, that probably wasn’t practical to do.

If you’re a Trek fan, I think that this book is a must-read. Even if you don’t want to look up the old comics, it’s well worth the read.

Book Information:

Available at Amazon, New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, edited by Joseph F. Berenato, with a foreword by David Gerrold is three-hundred-and-four pages in length.

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