Artist: Stephen Molnar
Covers: Tim Bradstreet and Joe Corroney
The Enterprise arrives at Delta Vega where an abandoned mining facility offers what seems like the perfect place to leave the increasingly powerful and dangerous Gary Mitchell. However, as Gary’s psychic powers grow exponentially and what remains of his humanity dwindles, Kirk’s plan to save his ship without killing his best friend seems doomed to failure.
The first thing I loved about this issue was the ‘Enlist in Starfleet’ variant cover by Joe Corroney. Not only is it a whimsical reflection of real posters used during the great recruitment drives in history but it also underscores the fact that Kirk and Mitchell’s friendship began at the Academy. Mitchell at least presumably joined to ‘Cross the Final Frontier’ as the poster exclaims. Now, having crossed the galactic barrier, Kirk finds himself in the unenviable position of having to decide whether to put his friend down like a mad dog in order to save his ship. It’s a stark juxtaposition of the hopefulness of youth against the cold realities of command that just serves to reinforce one of the major themes of this story – Kirk’s loss of innocence.
I enjoyed the opening page as the reader finds Kirk struggling with the difficult situation he has found himself in. Molnar’s page layout is crisp, clean and bold while Johnson’s scripting deftly shows a captain who is still very much in control but is deeply troubled by the events unfolding around him. The panel of Kirk silhouetted against the conference room windows was a particular favourite. It was also a nice touch to see this image reflected on the final page of the issue as Kirk tries to digest the shocking events. These opening and closing panels make a nice contrast to the first time we see Kirk in issue one where he is playing chess with his two friends. He is now a much more sombre character.
The rest of Johnson’s script is easy to read and follow. He aptly captures Kirk and Spock’s concern and, more importantly, Mitchell’s increasingly menacing demeanour. The story feels like it’s moving along quite slowly in the first half of the issue but events pick up speed in the second half as Kirk must confront Mitchell. I was disappointed not to see more of the other main characters in the action: we get a glimpse of Scotty but otherwise it’s all Kirk, Spock and Bones. I know they are the main three and I realise that this particular story is mostly about Kirk facing a torturously tough command decision but I’d still like Uhura, Chekov and Sulu to get a little more ‘screen’ time.
Verdict: This is a fond re-imagining of a great Star Trek episode and a story that not only puts Kirk through the emotional wringer but shows him growing into his responsibilities as captain. It also lays some firm groundwork for the developing friendship between Kirk and Spock. I’m looking forward to where this series will take us next. 6/10
Check out our review of issue 1, and the first issue of the crossover with the Legion of Superheroes.