As stated in my previous reviews of this book series, “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. Byrne manipulates images of characters and backgrounds from the [TV show] combined with new material such as dialogue [in word balloons], narration, and photos of actors playing new characters and bodies of old ones.” Volume 5 collects issues #12-14 and the story “More of the Serpent Than the Dove,” which was previously only available in June 2016 “to purchasers of the Humble Bundle Star Trek Comics Bundle.”
“Swarm” is inspired by an original script of Gilbert Ralston, writer of “Who Mourns for Adonais?” The story, set after “The Changeling” as revealed in a snippet of dialogue from Mr. Scott, finds the Enterprise crew encountering a massive collection of creatures that accelerate the death of a star to feed. This causes a moral quandary as their meals can snuff out the lives within a solar system.
In “The Hidden Face”, the discovery of small, powerless spacecraft leads the Enterprise crew to a planet where showing one’s face is deemed sacrilegious, so everyone wears a mask to help curb the sin of vanity. Once the dire living conditions, especially for some children, are revealed, it’s no surprise Kirk wants to ignore The Prime Directive and take action.
Set between “Errands of Mercy” and “Operation: Annihilate!” Kirk’s brother “Sam” has confessed to murder. The Enterprise escorts him to trial on Earth and is followed by a Klingon warship. Familiar faces here include Yeoman Rand, Starbase Commander Jose Mendez from “The Menagerie”, and Klingons Captain Koloth and Korax from “The Trouble with Tribbles”. Another familiar face is George Sam Kirk, who Byrne created by putting a beard on Shatner’s face.
“More of the Serpent Than the Dove” takes place a “short time” after “Arena” when Kirk first encountered and battled a Gorn. The Enterprise is assigned to transport the Gorn ambassador and her party to a meeting with the Federation, but sabotage “bent on the destruction of the mission and the ship” is soon set in motion.
Byrne’s use of the source material in his art continues to create an authenticity even if there are mild quibbles with sight lines, lighting on characters, and new objects, like the Swarm ships, not blending well within the panels.
The powers that be at Paramount should consider having John Byrne write a screenplay for the next movie because, as evident in these four stories, he understands the essence of what Star Trek is and why the Original Series was so successful. From the characters, to the mythology, to the plots, his writing in the New Visions series is such a high quality, fans should have no qualms about them being deemed official canon. I can’t wait to see what else he has planned for the Enterprise crew.