The following may contain spoilers for Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War. You have been warned.
The USS Enterprise has logged many adventures in the world of comic books over the years, so it’s no surprise that they would venture into the realm of crossovers at one point or another. Both Kirk and Picard have had run-ins with the X-Men before, back in the Marvel/Paramount run of comic books. And more recently, there was a pretty decent crossover between Star Trek: TOS and DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes. Great stories, sure…but something always felt imbalanced about watching a bunch of stiff-necked space travelers fire away with their puny blasters while the real champions took charge of the action.
In the six-issue Spectrum War crossover, DC and IDW teamed up to find a solution to this problem—take the Abramsverse crew, give them power rings, and throw them in the middle of a cross-dimensional battle against universal apocalypse. And as the series draws to a conclusion this week, I have to say that the results were absolutely fascinating.
Don’t get me wrong, I was ready to hate this series before I even opened the cover. I figured it would have the same problem as the previous crossovers, but that the balance would look even worse when the universe was saved by one man with an overpowered piece of jewelry while Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto stood by impotently. The main thing that made the Star Trek/X-Men books so charming was that you got to see the characters pair up with their alternate reality soulmates. And if Planet X felt like it was mostly about the bromance between Worf and Wolverine, then what would Spectrum War be like? Nothing against the duo of Kirk and Hal Jordan, but you can’t have two cheesy do-gooders driving one series. Besides, they don’t even have a cute couple name. At least with Logan and Worf you have…Loaf?
Anyway, the series starts off on a pretty interesting beat. Ganthet, the last surviving Guardian of Oa, is informed that the entire Green Lantern Corps has fallen to Nekron. Ganthet mutters something about preserving all life, and then he and six power rings vanish before we jump to the Enterprise. Kirk and his crew have just stumbled onto the barren husk of Mogo, the (formerly) Living Planet, which Ganthet apparently managed to transport to an entirely different universe while disintegrating himself in the process. It’s actually a little humorous, because they find his body with the rings just sitting there on the ground beside him. Apparently, his plan to save the rings from Nekron was to kill himself and leave them unattended. Bones even confirms that he’s been dead for some time before Kirk’s scouting team managed to find him.
The crew attempts to scan the rings, but it isn’t long before they escape and fly all over the place. Since every power ring operates on a different mood spectrum, they each find fitting hosts. The blue ring of hope goes to Chekov because he’s young and optimistic. The indigo ring of compassion goes to McCoy because he’s a doctor. And the violet ring of love goes to Uhura because…she’s a woman? We aren’t given much to go on with that one.
The less virtuous rings find owners as well. The yellow ring of fear finds a host in General Chang, a Klingon who seeks revenge on Kirk following his actions on Kronos during Star Trek Into Darkness. The red ring of rage goes to one of the Gorn, a hegemon’s son named Glocon (brace yourself if you hated the Gorn’s redesign in the 2013 game). Finally, the orange ring of greed goes to Praetor Decius, a Romulan who seeks territorial expansion for his race after the destruction of Vulcan.
Ganthet didn’t have a green ring, because it predictably turns out that not all Green Lanterns were dead (it would’ve been a pretty lame crossover if they were). Hal was still alive when Ganthet used some strange alien technique called the “last light” to transport all Lanterns to another universe. During Hal’s exposition, we get to see the deaths of a few Lanterns in their war against Nekron. He explains that Kyle Rayner died after failing to become the White Lantern in his reality, which freed Nekron to wreak havoc on the universe. This is problematic because Lanterns of all shades had to band together to fight him. And during the last light, they all made the jump.
Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lanterns, soon finds Glocon and fights him. Decius is also confronted by Agent Orange, and Chang has a fight with the big bad Sinestro. It’s one of the more awesome parts of the series, even if it’s a little ridiculous how quickly everyone learns how to use their rings. Chang only has his on for about four seconds before he conjures up a giant mythological demon, and Decius manages to construct an entire Romulan senate. The baddies in each spectrum soon join forces, but continue to fight against each other in a massively chaotic space battle.
Fortunately, our heroes are not on their own. Carol Ferris arrives with an injured Saint Walker of the Blue Lantern Corps right as Nekron finds his way into this reality. The explanation for Nekron’s entrance is arguably one of the greatest moments in this series, as it revolves completely around the use of secondary definitions. Hal refers to Nekron as “pure entropy,” meaning of course that he thrives on chaos. But Spock takes this statement and runs with it, utilizing the thermodynamic laws of entropy to explain that Nekron already exists in all universes. Apparently, one of Nekron’s superpowers is the ability to exploit homonyms.
Without ruining the last couple of issues, things get about as chaotic as they possibly could. Multiple villains fight each other, Hal briefly takes the pilot seat, and we get to revisit a familiar setting from the first Abrams movie. We also get to breathe a sigh of relief that only one movie universe was incorporated into this crossover, although some male readers would have loved to see Blake Lively’s Carol Ferris in a Star Sapphire uniform.
This series is not without its flaws, but its greatest drawback is that DC and IDW only gave it six issues. There are a few major plot points that feel a bit rushed, and they would have been fun to explore for even just a few more pages. Even one more page per issue might have helped them answer a number of lingering questions. For instance, how does Ferris know enough about this new universe to construct a bat’leth? And how does Sinestro learn immediately that he’s in an alternate universe by looking at a computer? His explanation is that the computer contains no information on his species, but you could probably say the same of most Earth computers.
The story is chock-full of classic Green Lantern characters, which is great. There’s even a nice fish-faced cameo during a flashback to the first Nekron war (which, in this canon, is not related to the Brightest Day/Blackest Night crossover events). There are also a few familiar faces that pop up near the end of the fifth issue. Some of the Enterprise crew don’t get much featured time in the series, but everyone fulfills a role by the time the story is concluded. And since they decided to make this series a complete standalone by destroying the entire DC universe, you can bet that the conclusion makes way for a possible follow-up series if DC and IDW are happy with the sales of this one.
In the end, Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War is a nice little adventure for sci-fi fans, even if it has its speed bumps. The climax is fulfilling (if a bit predictable), and there’s a nice balance between humor and serious action. It’s almost surprising at times just how unflinching this series is when looking at death. At one point near the end, we see a group of corpses floating through space while Kirk gives us a nonchalant explanation. These characters weren’t technically important to the story, but we had been briefly led to believe that they would be. It’s a little surprising that they died off-panel. That said, the casual nature of death in a series that also includes McCoy acting as butler to Scotty while offering him hot chocolate and tomato soup—both made of apparently edible ring constructs—strikes an interesting balance that will appeal to readers with a certain sense of humor.
The art is done by Angel Hernandez, who did some work on Infinite Crisis: The Fight for the Multiverse. It won’t generally blow you away, but it gets the job done. The colors are provided by Alejandro Sanchez, who worked with Hernandez on the above project in addition to performing some excellent work on Injustice: Gods Among Us and Batman: Arkham Unhinged. The story is by Mike Johnson, who has done well with the previous Abramsverse Star Trek comics.
It really isn’t too hard to see why these franchises combine so well. As IDW President and COO Greg Goldstein said in a press release when the series was first announced back in April:
“Star Trek and Green Lantern both share so many of the same science-fiction adventure themes and ideals, that a galaxy-spanning crossover like this is simply…logical.”
But he was right. This series delivers an action-packed sci-fi outing that won’t boldly take you where no man has gone before, but also won’t feel like a waste of your money. And since it’s pretty much a non-canon standalone, you don’t have to be overly familiar with either franchise—although it certainly helps. Between the colors jumping right off the page and a story with enough substance to feel like more than just a forced excuse for a crossover, The Spectrum War is a colorful adventure that should satisfy Trekkies and Lantern fans alike.
This series will be collected in an omnibus edition, to be released March 2016.