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 8 collects issues #21-22 and New Visions Special: The Cage.
“The Enemy of My Enemy” finds Captain James T. Kirk and Klingon Commander Kor (John Colicos), who first butted heads during “Errand of Mercy,” trying to escape from the Vrotii, a creature that looks to be a mix between a rhino and a lizard. The story brings to mind The Defiant Ones because the two rivals are “shackled” together, having been told they have had chips implanted near their hearts that will blow up if they become more than ten meters apart. Although longtime fans surely know the outcome, Byrne was still able to create suspense in the story.
“The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” is set during Captain Pike’s tenure as commander of the Enterprise. He and his crew encounter a ship that contains Mr. Cavor, a man claiming to be from the early 20th century. That name also belongs to the scientist from H. G. Wells’s The First Men in the Moon, so either he tapped into the records about Earth or Wells’s work wasn’t as fictional as people presumed. Once the truth is revealed, Cavor makes a believable choice about how to spend the rest of his days.
“An Unexpected Yesterday” is an epic tale that could easily have been a movie with its scope. When readings from the Guardian of Forever indicate the time stream has been altered, Kirk and Spock must use it to travel back to the early 21st century, a time when the Earth was recovering from the Eugenics Wars. Once they arrive, things are not as they should be. They encounter Gary Seven from “Assignment: Earth,” yet he doesn’t know them, reinforcing Mr. Spock’s supposition that not only did they go back in time, but into a parallel dimension as well. Included in the cast of characters is Lt. Carolyn Palamas, last seen in New Vision‘s “Of Woman Born.” Byrne uses the face of Jason Evers for Commander Keloway so fans who known him as Rael in “Wink of an Eye” might find it a tad distracting.
“The Cage” is an adaptation of the series pilot, most of the footage of which would later appear in the two-part “The Menagerie.” Under the command of Capt. Pike, who is considering resigning his commission, the Enterprise answers a distress call from the planet Talos IV. However, this turns out to be a ruse by the Talosians to find a specimen for their experiments, which includes having offspring. They capture Pike and access his mind, creating illusions to get him to take part. While a huge fan of Kirk and company, I’ve always been curious why this iteration didn’t move forward. The story is well written and the characters are compelling. The book concludes with “Dream a Little Dream,” an amusing short story with Byrne living every fan’s fantasy as the star of a Trek adventure.
It’s unfortunate Byrne has announced an end to the New Visions series because these are some of the best stories of the entire run. But better to go out on top than to overstay one’s welcome and sully the brand. No offense, (pick your least favorite Season Three episode). There will likely be one more collected volume covering the final two issues and I can’t wait to see how it comes to an end.