Book Review: STAR TREK – COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS

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J.J Abrams shocked many when he successfully re-energised the Star Trek franchise with 2009’s Star Trek. He opened up Trek to a whole new audience (and generation), helping it crack into the mainstream. Before Abram’s captained the Starship Enterprise to box office glory, the franchise was something of a niche, ironically seen as a poor cousin to George Lucas’ Star Wars. This is odd considering that Star Trek first aired on television a decade before Lucas unleashed the full-force of his Jedi might.

The success of Star Trek led to the property having the opportunity to seek out new life and new marketing properties. It didn’t boldly go where no franchise had gone before, but it did lead to the successful prequel graphic novel, Star Trek Countdown. Now with the release of Star Trek Into Darkness comes a sequel to the prequel, Star Trek Countdown To Darkness. The book helps fill in the gap between Abrams’ 2009 adventure and his latest feature, with the climax of the book leading to the introduction of Benedict Cumbersnatch’s ‘John Harrison’.

The story, written by Star Trek Into Darkness screenwriter Bob Orci along with Mike Johnson, follows Captain Kirk and the dependable Mr Spock as they struggle to keep the Prime Directive (don’t mess with uncivilized planets – ‘cause their brains can’t handle space travel), whilst taking part in a civil war on the Phaedus IV. During their adventure the pair meet Robert April, a former and presumed dead captain of the Enterprise. April has been holed up on Phaedus IV, with the alien rebels, helping to fend off a Klingon invasion. April’s heart is in the right place, but he will stop at nothing to fight his war – even jeopardising the Enterprise.

Star Trek: Countdown To Darkness plays out like a episode of the classic Star Trek, with Kirk and Spock taking centre stage in the action. As usual, Kirk is all swagger and bravado (itching for shore leave), while Spock struggles to cope with is dual human and Vulcan heritage. The rest of the Enterprise’s crew are present and correct, but they are given little to do – although Bones does get a good line or two.

David Messina’s artwork is solid; he takes an interesting choice of making his Kirk a mix of William Shanter and Chris Pine. It’s a good choice, again harking back to classic Trek. Spock, is as ever, just Spock and he does a good job of rendering the other crew members. The action is well composed and the book includes some good character portraits, which intercut the action like breaks in a television episode.

Star Trek: Countdown Darkness may not be the greatest Star Trek story ever told, but it is a good teaser to whet the appetites of Trekkies before they watch Star Trek Into Darkness.