Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes #1 (review)

Science is crazy.

Even as a kid I used to wonder why Star Fleet relied so heavily on transporter technology, because they screw up so often. It seemed you were almost as likely to be split into good and evil duplicates of yourself or end up in a parallel universe as to actually arrive at your destination.

Meanwhile, over in the DC Universe, the Legion of Super-Heroes used an equally unsafe technology, Time Bubbles, to travel through time.


Even casual readers of Legion have been exposed to the inevitable Time Bubble crash lands in some terrible time period or alternate timeline.

So in one sense, on a long enough timeline, it was inevitable that the Legion of Super-Heroes and the crew of the original Enterprise lead by Captain James T. Kirk would meet up in some weird evil universe because of their reliance on these obviously unsafe technologies.

Due to the kind of crazy science that transporters and time bubbles rely on, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Chekov and Sulu all end up in an alternate universe at the same time as Lightning Lad, Braniac 5, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Shadow Lass and Cosmic Boy.


The symbol of the empire is similar to the symbol Kirk encountered in his trip to the Mirror Universe as well. There it was one sword stabbing the Earth from above. This modification is interesting.

The choice of alternate universe is inspired, actually. The comic opens with a play on Star Trek's opening narration, but without the poetic, humanist flair of the original. "Space. Explore strange new worlds. Seek out new life, and new civilizations. Boldly go where no man has gone before… and conquer."

We see a fleet of starships, blockier, less elegant (more Bauhaus?) but still similar enough to those of the Federation to be familiar to us. Klingon ships are there as well. The fleets are teamed up to destroy a planet of shapeshifters. The massacre is being lead by Captain Tomorrow, better known to comic fans as Tommy Tomorrow, of the Planeteers.
Captain Tomorrow
In DC Comics continuity, Tommy Tomorrow is an alternate universe version of Kamandi, the Last boy on Earth. In Kamandi's reality, a great cataclysm destroyed the world, and Kamandi existed in a post apocalyptic world of animal men. In Tommy Tomorrow's reality, the great cataclysm was avoided, and humanity enjoyed a future very similar to that of Star Trek. In the universe the characters from Star Trek and the Legion have found themselves in, we are meeting a mirror universe version of Tommy Tomorrow, similar to the evil Federation encountered in the classic second season Star Trek episode "Mirror Mirror."

The setting, then serves as a prequel of sorts to the 1990 comic Twilight (not to be confused with the modern vampire book/movie juggernaut) by Howard Chaykin and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. In that comic, Chaykin remained the various DC space heroes as co-existing in one universe (despite the vastly different time periods they originally inhabited.) Thus Tommy Tomorrow, the Star Rovers, Rick Starr the Space Ranger and others were given their own Dark Knight/Watchmen dark and gritty retcon.


In fact, during the bombardment of the planet that begins the comic, Rick Starr is mentioned by name. Rick Starr was a blatant rip-off of Isaac Asimov's David Starr, Space Ranger, all DC did was change his first name from David to Rick. Funny that DC felt okay with suing Fawcett Comics and Captain Marvel over the supposed similarities of that character to Superman, but has no compunctions about stealing from Isaac Asimov outright.


This best thing about setting the comic in this universe is that it allows the ostensibly more serious characters from Star Trek to interact with the more cartoonish Legion characters in a world that exists about halfway between the two in style. Smart work.

The comic is heavily plot driven, and so far neither group of characters has been given much to do except to react to their circumstances. In fact, by the end of the comic, the groups haven't even met. One great bit towards the end of the book has Spock and Brainiac 5, working independently, simultaneously come to the conclusion that they are in the wrong universe. 


Other fanboy pleasing bits were Uhura firing a phaser, and the shapeshifters being identified with both the Dominion (from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and the Durlans from DC Comics continuity. With five more issues to go, I look forward to seeing the two groups meet, take on the oppressive universe they have found themselves in, and eventually find their ways home. Great first issue.



Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes #1, published by IDW Publishing is written by Chris Roberson with art by Jeffrey Moy and covers by Phil Jimenez and Keith Giffen is in stores tomorrow.

No comments :