Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Star Trek: Countdown (2009), a prequel to the 2009 Star Trek film, collects the four-issue comic miniseries of the same name. The story is by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Mike Johnson and Tim Jones, and the art is by David Messina. The primary function of this prequel is to provide back-story for Nero, who gets short shrift in the film.

Eight years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, Spock and the Romulan miner Nero work to prevent a star that is going supernova from destroying Romulus (and the rest of the galaxy). Aided by the Enterprise-E (captained by a resurrected Data) and Jean-Luc Picard, now the ambassador to Vulcan, they get bogged down in Romulan and Vulcan politicking.

Star Trek: Countdown feels rushed. There’s a lot going on, and the comic often focuses on the less interesting aspects (like all the political bickering). As a result, the focus on character is diminished. Even Nero, one of the book’s main characters, doesn’t get a worthy treatment. His shift from loving miner to power-mad tyrant is quick and glossy. And beyond Nero’s initial relationship with Spock, Countdown gives us little that we couldn’t figure out from the movie.

Other characters from The Next Generation pop up here and there, mostly for no good reason. All of the characters present from TNG, including Data and Picard, are just there to add a few familiar faces. These are well-developed characters whose personalities have been thoroughly explored in hundreds of Star Trek episodes, but here they are completely unremarkable and totally interchangeable. This is a distinct failure to link the new film to the world of TNG.

Messina’s art is fine, even if his people look a bit angular at times. But the familiar characters are mostly recognizable and the ships look good, and that’s what counts. Countdown’s coloring is murky; this is an obvious attempt to give the book a grimmer, more serious tone. But instead, it impairs the art and gives the reader the distinct impression that it’s trying too hard.

Star Trek: Countdown is not officially canon, although there are no canonical red flags. But it really doesn’t matter, because this book really doesn’t matter. It adds little to the new film, and it adds practically nothing to the world of The Next Generation.