Robot 6

The original ‘Star Trek’ is back, in webcomic form

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Star Trek never dies, it just flies into a wormhole made by red matter, and emerges with hot new actors and lens flares. No matter how many times the series gets rebooted, though, the Roddenberry original will always be with us.

The aesthetic of the original series will always hold a special place in the hearts of many fans. Its appeal is two-fold: It taps into the optimistic side of science fiction, where the peoples of Earth can set aside their differences to voyage to distance stars. It’s also a great peek into 1960s mod fashion, with miniskirts, beehive hairdos and primary colors everywhere. Even as early as The Next Generation, a lot of that aesthetic appeal was stripped away to create a bridge that can charitably be described as the lobby at a LensCrafters.

Mark Farinas revisits the world of the original series in his fan fiction webcomic, whose official title seems to be … Star Trek. He’s no stranger to Trek, having created the cheeky animated “Klingon Propaganda” video that resembles something produced by North Korea. There’s a red, white and black color palette and a children’s choir and everything. He’s also involved with Starship Exeter, a fan film with TV-accurate sets and costumes.

Like a Klingon warrior, Farinas lives by his own Code of Honor, which means accepting certain truths and rejecting others. This means paring down his Trek principles to those defined by Gene Roddenberry for the original series; his “About” page tosses out several bits of Trek lore that were introduced from The Next Generation onward. (Among the guidelines: “Klingons are not proud Viking warriors.” “Enterprise is so incompatible with TOS regarding technology, history, and ship design that it has to be tossed out in its entirety.”)  Even the original series gets reexamined as Farinas admits that “TOS was notoriously misogynistic.” He specifically states that his comics will all pass the Bechdel Test; that is only one of the concessions he makes to update Trek to modern sensitivities.

His first story, “No Good Deed, ” follows the USS Stalwart during the Earth-Romulan War. The crew discovers a damaged and adrift Romulan ship, the first that hasn’t exploded or fired upon a Federation starship.  It provides the Federation with a unique opportunity to learn about an enemy that has thus far existed in the shadows.  (The comic exists, it seems, before “Balance of Terror,” when it was revealed the Romulans are related to the Vulcans.)  Captain Madison, though, has become increasingly weary of war, and proposes an unpopular solution that draws angry responses from his crew and disapproval from Starfleet.

It’s a solution that I feel is a little too simple. Star Trek morality can be a little on the nose at times — I mean, this is the series gave us Frank Gorshin in half-black/half-white makeup. Still, the solution for “No Good Deed” is elementary-school level, and it makes Starfleet seem a little too incompetent. Plus, Captain Madison comes off looking like a bit of a Mary Sue. The Trek comic is an anthology series, however, so hopefully it comes up with more complex tales in the future.  (Though that might have to wait. The current comic seems to be a Harry Mudd story, and those have been defined more by their sense of fun than their sense of righteousness.)

Still, Farinas does get the style down.  The coloring recalls the classic TV show lighting, and the comic “texture” and look feels like an artifact from the ’60s. Like I said, there’s something about that retro style that taps into that era’s optimism about space travel. Astronauts were being sent into orbit, the Moon was within reach, and it did not seem impossible to boldly go where no man had gone before.

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6 Comments

I’ve been reading this comic for awhile now and I’m not sure your review is entirely fair.

It should be noted that Madison’s solution was meant to be too simplistic and the outcome is far from what he expected. As for Star Fleet (which doesn’t exist yet) looking incompetent, I think you’re missing the entire point of the comic, which is that militarists have no impetus to end comfortably open ended wars especially when one side has a technological advantage. I’m pretty sure you can come up with a number of real world examples without taking long to think about it.

this is alright, it has a really accurate newspaper strip style.

What I got from “no Good Deed” is that it’s about unintended consequences. Madison has an idea of what might happen, but it’s from a human perspective. He can’t really know what his unseen and unknown enemy thinks. And starfleet isn’t portrayed as incompetent. The young woman has a string of kills a mile long. They’re beating the pants off an enemy who will not stop fighting now matter what (think what was expected to happen had the US invaded Japan in 1945). I read Madison as willing to try something crazy because the war’s never going to end well for either side if they just keep throwing bodies into the meat grinder as they have been.

Also. you misspelled the author;s name in the last paragraph.

Thanks for the catch, @Yves A. Fixed it.

er,is this licensed, or just more fan-wank like the fan-films?

I gotta take issue with the Mary Sue remark. I’m not sure you know what that means. Mary Sues are loved by the cast and get everything right. The captain is an alcoholic who manipulates people through sex and every other character either hates or tolerates him. If having the solution to the story’s problem is your definition of a Mary Sue then nearly every fictional hero is one.

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