Star Trek #20 Review

With the blockbuster movie just around the corner, this Star Trek reboot is running a series of one-shots giving each signature character a moment (or two) to shine.  Up this month: Sulu and Chekov.

The official description from IDW:

The all-new origin stories of the Enterprise crew conclude with this special issue that focuses on TWO Trek Stalwarts: Sulu and Chekov! Witness their first meeting at Starfleet Academy, and learn how their paths intertwined all the way to the bridge of the Enterprise! Overseen by Trek writer/producer Roberto Orci, this issue sets the stage for Sulu and Chekov’s new adventures in the blockbuster film sequel!

Star Trek #20 is a decent one-shot, offering background to two of the most beloved but often underplayed characters in the franchise: Sulu and Chekov.  Our soon to be BFFs are recruits in the Starfleet Academy, trying to carve out a reputation for themselves.  Sulu, at least, seems to be heading for great things, while poor, under-appreciated Chekov is literally getting tripped in the woods by girls. In order to become an elite, however, Sulu must complete a task that could risk the lives of innocent recruits. Chekov’s moral dilemma looks different: he’s contemplating a prank that will bring humiliation to another cadet. These parallel story lines ultimately lead both characters to the hull of the Enterprise.

Ryan Parrott does a solid job of crafting a script that tells two stories at once — Sulu and Chekov each get their own plots which, when resolved, ring true to the characters.  And while this issue provides a kinda satisfying prelude to how these two guys take the helm, Parrott missed a chance to add texture to these characters. Unlike earlier one-shots, we don’t get much backstory. This misstep feels all the more pronounced when juxtaposed against Jim Kirk’s walk-on appearance where he reflects about his childhood in Iowa — a tiny detail that makes Jim pop.  Sulu and Chekov deserved the same treatment.

I can’t say a bad thing about Claudia Balboni’s art.  It’s spot on. The lines are sharp, the facial expressions are real, and even the panels looks straight-up cinematic.  For a book that’s trying to convince the reader to go see a movie, it feels like you’re halfway there.

Even though issue #20 missed some opportunities, it’s a solid read and I’m grateful for any movie-time that can stand on its own.


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