Thursday, January 14, 2010

Comic Review: Star Trek Captain’s Log: Sulu (IDW)

From IDW: Introducing a brand-new series focusing on some of the most famous Captains in Starfleet history! In the debut issue, Captain Hikaru Sulu, still new to the command of the U.S.S. Excelsior, finds himself once again face to face with one of the Federation's most dangerous and mysterious adversaries-the Tholians! From the creative team behind Spock: Reflections!

Art: Federica Manfredi provides the pencils in this issue, with colors by Andrea Priorini. The art is sufficient for the most part, although there are a few things holding it back. The pencils aren’t always crisp, which can be problematic when dealing with the lines of machinery such as the inside of the Excelsior. This also leads to some “wonky” proportions on the ship’s crewmembers, and Manfredi seems to have had difficulty deciding how old Sulu should look. Some panels have him looking a bit older than he did on Star Trek, and some have him looking like an old woman, so I would say that there’s a bit too much variation. The likeness of George Takei slips back and forth as well. One other problem area with the pencils is that there isn’t much background to speak of in some of the panels, instead just a flat color.

The colors by Priorini are a bit flat. I understand that the interior of the ship is going to be mostly grey and that everyone is going to have the same color uniform, so I don’t expect to see every color of the rainbow, but a smoother, warmer look to the colors would help with the hindered pallet.

As I stated before, the art is sufficient for the most part, and the shortcomings don’t hinder the book from being enjoyable. Besides, I’ve seen much worse from high profile artists who get paid millions of dollars to draw like they are in the 2nd grade. (I’m looking at you Chaykin and Liefeld)

Writing: This is where the issue really thrives. From the very beginning you get the sense that Scott and David Tipton know their Star Trek history. In the opening of the issue, Sulu is practicing his fencing with his first officer. At first this seemed a bit “on the nose” and too obvious since the “fencing incident” from Star Trek seems to be the most often remembered thing about Sulu. However, the principle’s and ideology behind fencing come back later on in the issue, and we realize that Sulu’s love and respect for the sport influence his own philosophy and command style. Lesser writers would have just thrown out the fencing references in a thinly veiled attempt to win over Star Trek fans, yet the Tipton’s show their writing strength by actually tying the reference into the story.

Another plus on the writing side is that this issue deals with the Tholians, rather than the better known Klingons or Romulans. Sulu recounts his own personal experiences with the Tholians to his first officer, and we see this visually through a flashback to the Star Trek episode “The Tholian Web”. Not only does this let Sulu’s first officer know what possible dangers they may be facing, but it lets any reader who isn’t familiar with the Tholians know what Sulu and crew may be up against.

While I don’t have any particular complaint against the writing itself, it is hindered by the one shot format. Since the writers had to come to the table with a “one and done” storyline, it feels a bit rushed and not fully fleshed out. The story is still well written and entertaining, I just feel that giving it two or three issues to play out would have helped it feel more dramatic.

Unfortunately this is a hindrance that will likely affect the follow Captain’s Log issues. If IDW wanted to create a new Star Trek series to highlight the different command style’s of the most decorated Captains in Starfleet history, maybe they could have formatted it differently. Perhaps instead of a series of one shots, they could have simply created a series called Star Trek: Captain’s Log. Issues one and two could have been this story expanded, with issue three starting a new story. I think that would have allowed the stories to breathe a bit more and not feel so rushed. Regardless, this is a pretty good one shot for Star Trek fans.

Written by Scott & David Tipton
Drawn by Federica Manfredi

Terry Barnhill
Staff Reviewer

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