Marvel's Star Trek Comics (1980-82)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Steve67, May 18, 2011.

  1. Steve67

    Steve67 Commander Red Shirt

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    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.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2011
  2. MatthiasRussell

    MatthiasRussell Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm not familiar with that one, but I still have the trek comics marvel did in the 90s and enjoyed them.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.
     
  4. ryan123450

    ryan123450 Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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... ;)
     
  6. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  7. Steve67

    Steve67 Commander Red Shirt

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    The Joanna McCoy (issue #13) and "alien-in-a-box" :lol: 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. :)
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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
     
  9. Steve67

    Steve67 Commander Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  10. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  11. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  12. Csalem

    Csalem Commodore Commodore

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    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?
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.)
     
  14. Csalem

    Csalem Commodore Commodore

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    ^Thanks.
     
  15. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  16. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    According to Mike W. Barr's article on Star Trek comics in Back Issue magazine #5, there was some doubt as to whether or not Spock would be able to use a mind meld in issue #5 until it was remembered that Spock performed a mind meld with V'Ger in TMP. Barr also alludes to there being "some sort of legal action between Marvel and Paramount Pictures that forbade Marvel from using any aspect of Trek that had not appeared in the movie."
     
  17. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Strange. TMP was a heavily merchandised movie - I loved that as a kid. Still, why would you want to limit the creativity of the comics by being so unduly restrictive. There does still seem to be a degree of paranoia & greed about franchising even today. The owners of the intellectual property do seem to believe that the merchanidising is worth a lot more than it really is, which seems to mean that we get very little overall because merchandisers just can't make a decent profit.

    The new 'canon' game is an interesting twist though. If the actors' images can be digitised and used in CGI 'stories' they might be able to milk the nu-Trek franchise even after the actors have moved on and the movie franchise is dead again.
     
  18. Steve67

    Steve67 Commander Red Shirt

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    It's even more strange when you consider how big a success Marvel's take on Star Wars was. Apparently, Lucasfilm often signed off approval without even looking at what Marvel was doing (until relatively late in the run, when they saw that the Lahsbees looked a bit too much like the upcoming Ewoks). Paramount should've let Marvel work its (then) magic, but I guess Paramount's dreary corporate countenance was in keeping with TMP's lifeless tone.;)
     
  19. inflatabledalek

    inflatabledalek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    They seem to have been fairly incosistent about what was and wasn't allowed as well, the most overt example beingthe same issue that they couldn't use Medusans in is a sequel to Where No Man Has Gone Before with another trip through the Great Barrier resulting in madness. Though I suppose it's possible that whoever approved that one didn't remember the Barrier from the show...
     
  20. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Star Trek has a history of introducing a new aliens when an existing one will do. They did use the shape-changing aliens that sent Captain Garth insane in one issue though so that would seem to be a departure from the licence.

    I wasn't a great fan of the Rand story. I love the character and was pleased to see her get more than one frame in the transporter room but the story didn't ring true on a lot of levels. Plus she went from being a Chief Petty Officer in TMP to a Lt-Commander in the commic in just a few years. She almost makes NuKirk looks slow in the promotion stakes.