This is the end, but the human adventure is only just beginning (again). Marc Guggenheim‘s Star Trek: TMP ‘Echoes’ Issue #5 is out today from IDW Publishing, the final issue of the series! Following on directly from the end of the most underrated Star Trek film of all time, The Motion Picture, this series hasn’t stopped. Spy action, espionage, parallel universes, doppelgängers, and another mission on the original USS Enterprise refit (with the TMP uniforms in tow).
I’ve been having the time of my life the time of my life these past few months, pulling apart each of the previous issues. As I noted last month though, there’s quite a lot for this series to wrap up. From Chekhov and Akris, to the Nightbringer, with an Uhura doppelgänger in the mix as well. Lots to handle, and lots to talk about!
Let’s delve into the epic conclusion with Star Trek: TMP ‘Echoes’ Issue #5!
Always Other Options
The last issue ended with Spock, temporarily in command of the Enterprise, ordering Sulu to fire on the Romulan ship. It was one of those cliffhanger moments where I really wasn’t sure how the series would pick up from there. Writer Marc Guggenheim’s approach delighted me, taking the reader back into Spock’s thought process in the moment. It’s a monologue that both recaps the story and maps the way to Spock’s orders, it’s some seriously clever stuff.
I can’t speak to how intentional it was, but those thought bubbles contrast quite sharply with the art in the panels. It gives the whole thing a flashback almost dreamlike style that I can get behind. Star Trek comics in particular have a habit of recapping the previous issues, and often integrating that into the story. This one, in particular, had me sit back in awe, it’s a combination of design and the actual writing that had my jaw on the floor.
The rest of the scene is likewise masterfully done. Seeing Spock bend to wanting the Romulan ship disabled was a relief. Knowing the sort of danger that Kirk is in at the time, it’s a great moment of tension. Thankfully McCoy’s there to lighten the mood, with his classic wit on full display. I rarely laugh at a comic book, but Guggenheim writes the Spock and McCoy dynamic perfectly.
We started this series teasing Akris as one of the biggest villains that Kirk’s ever faced, with a weapon powerful enough to destroy a planet. I’m almost disappointed that the series wasn’t long enough to accommodate him destroying an actual planet before this. Although my strange desire to see a massive explosion is more than satiated by the end of this, I can’t help but think that the stakes could have been a lot higher.
Like a lot of the action in this issue in particular, it seems to follow a ‘just in time’ principle. Sulu’s on the planet’s surface, and the explosive charges beam down right when he says he needs them. Bones arrives just in time to get some of Akris’ blood and save Chekhov’s life. Uhura finds some guns just in time to let her comrades stand a chance against the Romulans. It’s not quite overreliance on contrivance or convenience, but all of these things happening in rapid succession were a little jarring.
That’s not exactly a massive criticism. It flies by, and the way it juggles all these subplots, cutting between all those different locations is nothing short of awesome. It’s the sort of writing talent that takes experience, and this team has it in droves. The scenes on the Romulan ship in particular stand out, especially the death of Akris. It’s the sort of panel that remains in your head for days, that final punch that serves to end this series on a massive high note.
The Human Adventure
The end of this story is great, seeing the big climactic action scene like that was awesome. What I was less thrilled by was the actual last couple of pages. On one hand, there was a great scene between the two Uhuras, as the alternate one flew off to find her way home. Not only is it a well-written scene, but it’s such a great tribute to Nichelle Nichols. The franchise as a whole has done quite a few of those, and this is probably the strongest. After all this time, it still gets me a little emotional to think about.
On the other hand, you’ve got the final dialogue between Kirk and Spock. A fair share of TOS episodes ended with a tease of potential future events, but this one is instead foreshadowing The Wrath of Khan. There’s even a whole panel dedicated to representing Spock’s death scene. The whole thing came out of nowhere and is beyond jarring, it really left a bad taste in my mouth. It did everything short of telling Kirk to go check on Khan.
Although the end of the comic mirrors the end of The Motion Picture? That’s a lovely touch. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be a sequel to this, at least not imminently. Nothing’s ever really gone in Star Trek, but this could well be the final time we the Enterprise refit go to warp. It’s absolutely mesmerizing. The human adventure really is just beginning, and a lot of me wanted it to continue with more stories from this era.
Issue #5 Previews
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Oleg Chudakov
Colorist: DC Alonso
Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry
Design & Production: Neil Uyetake
Group Editor: Heather Antos
Editorial Assistant: Vanessa Real
This series was a wild ride. I’ve made no secret over the past few months of the fact that I’m a massive fan of the TOS-era movies. Getting to see these characters in action again, even if only in comic book form, was the series’ biggest drawcard. Considering The Motion Picture‘s reputation for being dull and slow, it was nice of this series to balance that out with some proper action.
While there are some snags with the way ‘Echoes’ Issue #5 wrapped up, I’m definitely not walking away unsatisfied or feeling like my time was wasted. This is a great story to bridge the massive differences between The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan. As a reader, I’d be interested in slotting this in between the movies to actually test that theory. There’s no hesitation on my part either, I would re-read this in a heartbeat.
This event miniseries is The Motion Picture era on a scale you’ve never seen before. All of the Star Trek comics from IDW are gorgeous to look at, and this is no exception. The grand scale action pieces, heartfelt character moments, and a tribute to Nichelle Nichols to boot. Guggenheim has crafted an absolute treat for fans, an experience that truly has to be seen to be believed. Such a touching series, that I recommend wholeheartedly.
NEW SERIES – Out Today!
Star Trek – Picard’s Academy
Issue #1: From New York Times-bestselling author Sam Maggs (Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars) comes a new ongoing series unveiling the past of one of Starfleet’s most celebrated officers: Captain Jean-Luc Picard! Before becoming the Federation’s finest, Jean-Luc was an ordinary student at Starfleet Academy with sights on the stars. His path forward was charted: blow his classmates out of the water on the infamous Evasive Maneuvers exam and graduate early. But there’s a detail Cadet Picard hadn’t factored into his plan: the exam was a group project and he’d need to make friends with, ugh, people if he stood a chance at passing. Federation starships aren’t run by a party of one, after all!
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