Review by Greg Harbin
John Harrison is…
Come now, you didn’t think it would be that easy, did you? Sure, J.J. Abrams and crew have ginned up a lot of speculation on the identity of the villain of this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to drop such a bomb in the first issue. It also doesn’t mean they don’t have a few big surprises planned along the way.
As with 2009’s Countdown, Countdown to Darkness is a four-issue lead-up to the summer blockbuster. However, at first blush, readers may be disappointed at the comparison. While Countdown showed the future of beloved characters from The Next Generation and their actions regarding the destruction of Romulus (thus explaining the film’s confused second half), CTD #1 simply picks up where the Star Trek Ongoing comic left off.
Our still newly formed crew is venturing further into the galaxy. In mirroring scenes the reader will be forgiven for comparing to Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones, shirtless Spock, and Kirk have nightmares that keep them from sleeping until their next shifts. Spock’s is particularly vivid, showing the guilt he still holds about his mother’s death. Whether these dreams factor further in the plot or simply provide more emotional depth for the characters still remains to be seen.
Mike Johnson’s script reads like a typical Star Trek away mission. As the Enterprise flies not into darkness but to primitive-inhabited Phaedus, ship’s communications are disrupted by technology that shouldn’t exist in a civilization likened to the Romans. Sulu requests to be brought along, referencing cleverly the Archon mission in Ongoing #9 and #10. No shying away from continuity here! As you may expect, the mission goes to hell and the crew is greeted by none-too-friendly aliens, led by a surprise character I won’t spoil here; but which will surely inspire a flurry of conversation once the issue hits comic shelves on January 23rd.
The art style is a return to that of Countdown, as you may expect with the return of David Messina. I must say I prefer the vaguely painterly style of the last two issues of Ongoing, but there’s nothing to complain about here. Characters all look like themselves without being cartoony. Abrams’s trademarked lens flares are aplenty, and those who love the souped-up Enterprise will love the way she’s presented on these pages.
The four CTD covers will lay together in a combined image once you have them all, but I recommend trying to find the variant Enterprise cover—although that may prove a challenge. It’s limited to 1,701 copies.
While CTD #1 doesn’t answer too many questions—save the arrival of a love interest presaged by Kirk’s restless night—it’s still the beginning of what promises to be a solid four-part Star Trek story. Those whose film news appetite can’t be sated should definitely pick up this issue, along with those who have been enjoying the Ongoing comics (which will be taking the months leasing up to Into Darkness to tell some backstory tales). Anyone else who’s merely curious should probably hold off until the trade paperback is released in May. I’ll be very surprised if the next three issues stay as vanilla as this one.