IDW Publishing continues their journey to boldly go… in the same general vicinity as the 1960′s Star Trek: The Original Series. But don’t hear that as an indication that these comics are lacking in creativity. In fact, quite the opposite. Unless you’ve been abducted by Metrons and forced to fight for your survival on an uninhabited asteroid, you’ve seen J.J. Abrams‘ Star Trek film that came out back in 2009. Also, assuming your mind isn’t being manipulated by Talosians you are aware that the events of that movie created an alternate time line parallel to the Original Series. The cast is all there, but things are somewhat…different. Kirk grew up without his father, Spock and Uhura are romantically involved, OH and Vulcan is destroyed. So when exploring Original Series episodes, this Enterprise crew still finds some things that would surprise even the super geeks like myself. But don’t worry, the way these stories have been handled in the series thus far have been consistently reverent to the original episodes.
Picking up after Mike Johnson‘s excellent first completely original story, Vulcan’s Vengeance, he is rejoined by artist, Stephen Molnar to handle the story of The Return of the Archons. Before reading issues 9 and 10 which comprise this tale, I re-watched the classic episode so it was fresh in my mind. In the comics none of the crew are converted by Landru. What was originally a point of unnerving suspense and character development in the original episode was seemingly replaced by more fast-paced action. Once discovering Landru is a computer at the end of issue 9 (the ending point of the original episode) I was curious to see where issue 10 would take things. Johnson takes the opportunity to explore both Landru and the Archon’s history in a deeper way than the show originally touched on which was interesting. The situation becomes more dire for the crew of the Enterprise and Kirk is forced to make a hard call, leading to a debate on the applications of the Prime Directive. So while suspense was subtracted earlier, it paved the way for some character development later on. And the characters are all spot-on. Whether it’s Bones’ concerned nagging or the witty post-adventure banter between Spock and Kirk, it’s obvious these stories were written with love for the classic characters. Fans of the Star Trek universe will appreciate some of the twists and turns. Although it’s never mentioned by name, there are hushed whispers of a secret organization in Starfleet that sounds suspiciously like Section 31. This of course has me speculating on whether or not we can expect this infamous organization to play a role in the upcoming film next summer.
If you’re a Trekkie (Trekker?) you’ll enjoy The Return of the Archons. Does it surpass the Original Series? Not at all… but it’s not trying to. It’s an enjoyable parallel universe that takes the time to explore old stories in the context of the new setting. It gave me an excuse to re-watch a classic and have fun comparing the two. Say what you will about the Abrams Trek, I know a lot of people hate it, but it’s certainly increased interest in the franchise. It’s socially acceptable to be a Trekkie again. I know people that have experienced the classics because the new film got them intrigued. So whether you’re a die hard fan with the original episode memorized or someone new to the franchise, check out Return of the Archons, and grab the previous issues while you’re at it!