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Star Trek Library Collection: Volume 1 Review

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Comic fans, rejoice! In an age where I spend most of my free time reviewing new additions to IDW Publishing’s Star Trek range, it’s a lot of fun to go back and read back issues I missed. I’m relatively new to fandom spaces, so the Star Trek Library Collection of comics are a great way to get my nerd knowledge up to scratch. This first edition collects three miniseries: Countdown, Spock Reflections, and Nero. It’s available from IDW Publishing, with volumes planned to cover every Trek comic they’ve released.

All three of them tie into the 2009 film, so it helps to read these as a trilogy. I also noticed that these share many of the same creatives as the film, notably Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman as writers, so they should keep in-tone with the film as well. I’ve expressed in the past some disdain for the Kelvin timeline films, but does this do anything to help me reappraise them? Are they fun, regardless of that? And, perhaps a far more important question, how do they slot into the timeline upwards of a decade later?

Countdown

Countdown is the first miniseries of the Star Trek Library Collection, and it’s probably the best. It’s a prequel to the 2009 film featuring a story of the destruction of Romulus in the prime timeline. Looking at it in 2023 makes it feel almost like an artist’s impression, though, as much of this has been significantly contradicted by the shows that came later. Although, seeing Nero and Spock on the same side and threading the characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation made for more than entertaining reading.

The cameos never felt egregious either, considering how many there were. It’s a fun read but is also an odd one. It tells the story fine but feels torn between the TNG reunion story and the 2009 setup. This may be one of the only times I say this, but maybe the story would have worked better if it only featured Picard and Spock. My problems with the storytelling are very small and are only really there because the miniseries is so short.

That being said, showing me characters I adore before easing me into a universe I don’t love was an inspired choice. Even though I knew where the story needed to end, I was hooked the whole way through. I also had a bit of an emotional reaction to the ending, and I’d love to see something about Spock’s sacrifice discussed in one of the shows at some point. Overall, this is a very strong start, and maybe I like the Kelvin timeline now. Either that or I love the TNG cast. It’s one of the two.

Spock – Reflections

We’re now entering stories I’ve never heard of before. There’s going to be a lot of those. It’s more surprising I’d heard of Countdown. This one’s a prequel to Countdown, detailing Spock’s initial decision to work with the Romulans. However, it’s mostly a character study instead of a traditional story like the other two in this set. Comprised of loads of flashbacks, it makes for some moving reading. When Nimoy was the only Spock, he’d played the role for many decades.

Spoiling what they are would be a disservice to anybody wanting to read it. However, it crossed a lot more bridges than I thought it would. It had scenes across his tales with Pike, obviously modelled after Jeffrey Hunter’s character. As much as I love Strange New Worlds, something is charming about stories deliberately mimicking “The Cage”. It’s only for a page or so, but it’s gorgeous. Then there’s stuff set with the Motion Picture uniforms and the red uniform from the other TOS films.

This is one that, even though Countdown stands in a state of canon limbo, I consider to be canon. If only for the ending and seeing Spock pay tribute to his fallen friend James Kirk. This is a chronicle of his journey, alone in the universe, trying to find a way to honour his best friend. Imagine that 765874 Short Film in a comic form, but with a proper plot. This is brilliant and beyond worth reading. I’m not ashamed to say I cried a bit. This is a miniseries, again 4 issues that I’m glad I stumbled into. Well worth checking out.

Nero

This is the one that, as someone who’s not much of a fan of Nero’s character or the film he’s from, I was dreading. I went in with pretty low expectations and came out pretty pleasantly surprised. Sure, it’s probably the weakest of the set, but without a serious emotional investment in the characters, that’s hardly surprising. What this one did have going for it, though, was its exploration of the Kelvin Timeline differs from the Prime one.

It gets into what the movies should’ve focused on more. This series feels much more like a trip down TOS memory lane, with some planets and characters that surprised me. Sure, many of them weren’t there for very long, but it’s cool to see how this universe takes shape. From V’Ger to Rura Penthe, seeing the TOS movies come to life with a villain lead makes for some solid novelty entertainment.

I’d love for this to be what all of IDW’s Kelvin Timeline comics are about. I might have to pick some of them up independently because I feel that expanded media here has a lot of potentials. Sure, this one’s held back by having to strand Spock and set the movie in motion, but it’s a crazy run of fan service I wasn’t expecting. Didn’t think I’d be saying this, but I recommend this one. With it having writers like Orci and Kurtzman attached, I shouldn’t be surprised, but here we are.

The Shelf Life of Tie-In Media

This is a topic I want to touch on with the Star Trek Library Collection. Reviewing tie-in media is one of my favourite things to do. However, especially with major franchises and comics, it only takes so long before the “main” instalments contradict them. In 2009, when all three of these came out, nobody thought we’d have Star Trek on TV again. But now we do, and there are loads of tiny canon issues. It’s not bothersome, story-ruining or anything that could’ve been prevented.

It’s mostly just the Countdown one. There are massive contradictions surrounding Picard’s actions after the destruction of Romulus, the viability of B4, and who the captain of the USS Enterprise-E was. Star Trek: Picard is the main source of the problem here. As science fiction, I suppose these contradictions are part of the fun. It’s certainly not story-ruining, but it makes these stories products of their time. However, depending on your tolerance for retcons, it’s probably worth noting before going in.

It’s not something I’ve noticed in the newer comics I’ve reviewed. Letting the writer take you on a journey is what’s most important, though. Here they tried to give us a better reunion sendoff for the TNG crew, something we wouldn’t get until very recently. I’ve been consuming science fiction for as long as I can remember. With stories being told over decades by hundreds of writers, inconsistencies are expected. Canon isn’t a concept to be ignored, but open your mind to these (often underrated) stories and experience them.

Conclusion

The Star Trek Library Collection was an amazing experience. IDW’s published over 400 Star Trek issues, so hopefully, there’ll be many more of these to come. We know that Volume 2 of this series is coming out in October, so it’s a good few months away. It’s also been revealed that the selection next time will be two TNG miniseries – The Space Between and Intelligence Gathering. I’ve not read either of those before and will endeavour to avoid spoilers until then. Given how much I love TNG, I’ve got very high expectations of these!

You can pick up your copy of The Star Trek Library Collection Volume 1 in all good comic book stores. It’s also available from Amazon and IDW Publishing’s website, with physical and digital editions for purchase. For all news coverage, reviews, retrospectives and general geeking out with all things Star Trek be sure to follow Trek Central!

Volume Credits

Countdown
Story: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Script: Mike Johnson & Tim Jones
Art: David Messina
Colors: Giovanna Niro
Additional Colors: David Messina & Paolo Maddaleni
Colors Consultation: Ilaria Traversi
Letters: Chris Mowry, Robbie Robbins, & Neil Uyetake

Spock – Reflection
Writers: Scott & David Tipton
Layouts: David Messina
Inks: Elena Casagrande, Federica Manfredi, & Arianna Florean
Finishes: Federica Mandredi
Colors: Ilaria Traversi
Color Assist: Chiara Cinabro & 2B Studios
Letters: Chris Mowry, Robbie Robbins, & Neil Uyetake

Nero
Story: Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Script: Mike Johnson & Tim Jones
Art: David Messina
Colors: Giovanna Niro
Letters: Neil Uyetake


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Connor Schwigtenberg
Connor Schwigtenberg
All round science fiction geek and a passionate Star Trek enthusiast. Can reliably be found nerding out online. Currently exploring the expanded media. A writer at heart, look out for deep dives, reviews, and feature articles.

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