John Byrne and IDW Publishing are presenting the lost missions of the Original Series Enterprise crew in the form of photonovels. That format uses photographs instead of drawings like the Star Trek Fotonovels of the late ’70s, which allowed fans to revisit episodes before they could watch them on demand through home video and the Internet. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the series to set the scene. He then uses word balloons to tell his stories.
Volume 1 contains three previously released books. Star Trek: Annual 2013 presents “Strange New Worlds,” a sequel to “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” It is set three years later and explores how the powerful Gary Mitchell could have been killed by a falling rock. Star Trek: New Visions Issue #1 sees Kirk from the Mirror universe come to the Prime universe a few weeks after the events of “Mirror, Mirror” seeking revenge in “The Mirror, Cracked.” Star Trek: New Visions Issue #2 offers a new time-travel story in “Time’s Echo” and “Sweet Sorrow,” a touching farewell Yeoman Rand deserved but never received. Star Trek: New Visions Issue #3 is already available and has two stories. “Cry Vengeance” tells the origins of the Doomsday Machine from the episode of the same name and an original story “Robot.”
The best stories are the sequels, or continuations from episodes, possibly in part because of the foundation already established. “The Mirror, Cracked” is the standout of all the aforementioned stories as we get to see Kirk against Kirk, and Mirror Kirk has some great plans, especially with the allies he obtains. I am puzzled by the paradox of “Time’s Echo” and don’t understand how the events could have started. “Robot” is a mystery with a good twist and it was nice to see minor character/glorified extra Lt. Kyle get some attention.
With the photonovel format allowing the actors to deliver the lines in a sense, it adds an authenticy that drawings can’t achieve. However, there are instances when the visuals can be a bit off-putting. Eyelines aren’t always correct, hairstyles can change from panel to panel through the use of character images from different episodes, and there are moments where it feels like seeing a jump cut in a film as characters move position more than expected. There’s even an instance where part of Scotty’s arm disappears while at the transporter controls in “Strange New Worlds.” The panels are at their worst when Byrne incorporates new material of characters not from the series. They almost never match and ruin the flow of the story because they are distracting.
For fans looking for new stories featuring the Original crew, John Byrne’s Star Trek: New Visions is well worth exploring. He demonstrates a great understanding of the Trek universe and its characters with his writing, and his photo art creates a sense of watching a long-lost episode play before our eyes.
I am excited for Issue #4 coming in December which the preview reveals features the return of Harry Mudd.