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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old May 18 2011, 08:00 PM   #1
Steve67
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Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

One of the less-successful attempts at putting Star Trek into comic books was Marvel's short-lived (18 issue) run, exclusively based on TMP. As Memory Alpha's entry states:

Marvel's first Star Trek comic series began in 1980 with a three-part adaptation of the recently released Star Trek: The Motion Picture; the series continued to a total of eighteen issues, finishing in 1982. The deal with Paramount restricted the writers of the comic to use only elements from the film and not anything specifically referenced in the original series. This meant there could be no sequels to or use of characters from TV episodes. However, the series did introduce for the first time McCoy's daughter Joanna, taken from the series' bible.

I have fond memories of following this series as they were published, and while Marvel was working with severe limitations, they often hurt themselves with the unsteady teams of writers and artists. I still find things to like about Marvel's take on Trek aside from the thirty-year nostalgia. I tend to think of this series in tandem with Marvel's other failed tie-in comics, Battlestar Galactica, which ran around the time Trek did.

What are your thoughts on this series? What would you consider the noteworthy, or at least better tales from this run?

Edit: I'll be re-reading this series and comment as I go.
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Old May 18 2011, 08:05 PM   #2
MatthiasRussell
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

I'm not familiar with that one, but I still have the trek comics marvel did in the 90s and enjoyed them.
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Old May 18 2011, 08:43 PM   #3
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

As I recall, the writers for the '80s Marvel ST comic did manage to slip a few TOS references under the radar. Although I don't recall specifically what they were.
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Old May 19 2011, 12:07 AM   #4
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

I read these on the Comics DVD and was struck by how many rediculous stories there were. Dracula, Gnomes, Ghosts, etc. I know they were working under limitations, but seriously? There were a few hard scifi stories as I recall that were far better than the majroity in terms of story quality.
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Old May 19 2011, 12:52 AM   #5
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

ryan123450 wrote: View Post
I read these on the Comics DVD and was struck by how many rediculous stories there were. Dracula, Gnomes, Ghosts, etc. I know they were working under limitations, but seriously?
Sure, it's not like Star Trek would ever have done an episode about a haunted house, or Jack the Ripper, or Alice and the White Rabbit...
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Old May 19 2011, 01:03 PM   #6
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

Christopher wrote: View Post
As I recall, the writers for the '80s Marvel ST comic did manage to slip a few TOS references under the radar. Although I don't recall specifically what they were.
Mr Kyle made it in. And Joanna McCoy, building on the TAS reference. An attempt to use Medusans was thwarted and Janice Rand married a different alien-in-a-box.
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Old May 19 2011, 09:37 PM   #7
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
As I recall, the writers for the '80s Marvel ST comic did manage to slip a few TOS references under the radar. Although I don't recall specifically what they were.
Mr Kyle made it in. And Joanna McCoy, building on the TAS reference. An attempt to use Medusans was thwarted and Janice Rand married a different alien-in-a-box.
The Joanna McCoy (issue #13) and "alien-in-a-box" story (#12) happen to be among my favorites of the series.

I haven't read the adaptations in ages, but recall Spock in a Federation environment suit and being attacked by a swarm of crystals in space; was this from an early draft of TMP's script?

I'll be reading these this weekend.
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Old May 19 2011, 09:52 PM   #8
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

Steve67 wrote: View Post
I haven't read the adaptations in ages, but recall Spock in a Federation environment suit and being attacked by a swarm of crystals in space; was this from an early draft of TMP's script?
That was the comics' adaptation of the scrapped "Memory Wall" sequence in TMP, in which Kirk and Spock ventured within V'Ger together and were attacked by crystalline antibodies. You can read more about it and see production images here: http://www.ottens.co.uk/forgottentrek/tmp_13.php
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Old May 20 2011, 11:34 AM   #9
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

Christopher wrote: View Post
Steve67 wrote: View Post
I haven't read the adaptations in ages, but recall Spock in a Federation environment suit and being attacked by a swarm of crystals in space; was this from an early draft of TMP's script?
That was the comics' adaptation of the scrapped "Memory Wall" sequence in TMP, in which Kirk and Spock ventured within V'Ger together and were attacked by crystalline antibodies. You can read more about it and see production images here: http://www.ottens.co.uk/forgottentrek/tmp_13.php
Interesting. The Fantastic Voyage connection is an apt one, though the Spock/crystals part does work better in a comic than on screen. I'll keep a lookout for other differences between the comic and the film.
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Old June 8 2011, 12:24 AM   #10
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

It's a very odd comic all in all. I did a full review of the IDW book here:
http://thecomicscode.weebly.com/star-trek-omnibus.html

In short, the big problem is The Motion Picture, love it or hate it, isn't really the best jumping off point for a typical Marvel all action and adventure comic. This means that some of the stuff that should make it a camp classic- blimey, just imagine Shatner playing being possessed by the Pharaohs, comes over all ever so slightly pro faced and dull.

There are also too many issues that are just the basic plots from a couple of TV episodes slammed together, anyone who watches Spock's Brain and thinks "I should do that... but with robots!" is very likely insane.
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Old June 8 2011, 02:23 AM   #11
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

The only issues I have are the ones adapting TMP, "The Enterprise Murder Case!" (written by DC Trek writer Mike W. Barr), and the Joanna McCoy issue written by Marty Pasko (where she's engaged to a Vulcan... What TOS fan can resist that premise?). All of the others I've ever come across look too goofy/cheesy to mess with.

The Enterprise Murder Case (#5, I think) is a decent enough story, although at times Barr's rawness as writer comes through. He would turn in more polished, efficient stories during his run on DC's Trek. But it's a fun read, and Barr did sneak in a reference to Kirk's time on the Republic (IIRC).

The art was very hit & miss. Dave Cockrum's Trek fandom shined through, but I think that Klaus Janson was a bad fit for both Cockrum's pencils and the austere style that TMP established. An inker with a slicker style like Terry Austin or Brett Breeding would've helped immeasurably.
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Old June 8 2011, 09:07 AM   #12
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

Why were the comics limited to the movies and not allowed to reference the TV series? Was it a case of Paramount movie division giving the licence rather than Paramount tv, or something like that?
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Old June 8 2011, 02:05 PM   #13
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

Csalem wrote: View Post
Why were the comics limited to the movies and not allowed to reference the TV series? Was it a case of Paramount movie division giving the licence rather than Paramount tv, or something like that?
I don't think that's the reason. It's probably more a matter of money. Even though they're all Star Trek, the various shows and films are still distinct entities from a licensing perspective. It probably would've been more expensive to buy the licenses to both the show and the film. (Similarly, IDW initially only acquired the licenses to TOS and TNG, and eventually DS9, which is why those were the only titles they did. When Marvel got a more all-inclusive Trek license in the 90s, the cost of it proved prohibitive and that run didn't last long.)
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Old June 8 2011, 04:05 PM   #14
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

^Thanks.
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Old June 8 2011, 05:00 PM   #15
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Re: Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

I got a few of these as a kid and I really enjoyed them. A lot of comics in the 80's were a bit ropey (Claremont's X-men were so far ahead of the rest it isn't true) and it is true to say that the majority of the stories had the production values of a He-Man episode. Even so, I went out and bought my missing issues as an adult!

I've always thought that the Motion Picture is the perfect launching pad for a comic series. I'd modernise and improve the uniforms but apart from that there was a ton of potential to use - so much so that I've actually written my own TMP era comic book on Youtube! You have the best version of the Enterprise and the largest cast of characters to work with. I'm not a huge fan of single issue stories though. I think you need 3 issues to really tell something decent.
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