Welcome back to We Want Comics, a column exploring intellectual properties, whether they’re movies, TV shows, novels or video games, that we want adapted into comic books. This month, we’re finally going (one brief instance aside) where we’ve never been before, to mark the arrival of Star Trek: Lower Decks, which is only the second animated Star Trek series. Star Trek has a long, and proud, history in comic books, but like the vastness of space, there’s still so much for IDW Publishing to explore. For the record, many of these suggestions could be used by Pocket Books’ long-running line of novels, or even CBS All Access shows, but for simplicity’s sake, we’re discussing comics.
In the words of Kelvin Christopher Pike, let’s “punch it.”
Time of Awakening
Before they devoted themselves to logic, the pointy-eared Vulcans were a volatile, war-like people who nearly destroyed their homeworld with nuclear weapons. Amidst the devastation emerged scientist and philosopher Surak, who taught his people to bury their emotions deeply, paving the way for the likes of Spock and Tuvok, as well as the Romulans, who are the descendants of those who rejected Surak’s teachings, and took their empire elsewhere. It could be an epic metaseries, transitioning from the tale of a post-apocalyptic, alien Christ or Gandhi, to the Romulans’ rise to power.
The Earth-Romulan War
Speaking of Romulans, the Earth-Romulan War was arguably the reason humanity banded together with the Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites to start the Federation, yet it was never depicted onscreen because of the cancellation of Star Trek: Enteprise. (Incidentally, Enterprise is the only live-action Trek series that has never had its own comic book.) While there were a pair of novels by Michael A. Martin chronicling the war, it’s a conflict well suited for further exploration in a visual medium, thanks to one bizarre wrinkle — humanity, and their allies, never actually saw the Romulans in combat: just what did they imagine they were fighting?
Kahless the Unforgettable
From the Vulcans/Romulans to the Klingons: their own messiah figure, Kahless the Unforgettable, the first Klingon Emperor, also deserves his own illustrated series. Kahless — who overthrew the tyrant Molor. Kahless — who forged the first bat’leth. Kahless — who devised the Klingon code of honor. So many badass stories about Kahless have been mentioned on the shows that it’s a no-brainer: he’s basically Conan the Klingon. There are other intriguing tales from Klingon mythology and history mentioned over the years, but this is the most accessible one. (Unless it was printed in the Klingon language — though that would be rather cool.)
For such a humanistic franchise, Star Trek has introduced a surprising amount of immortal characters over the decades, from the omnipotent Q, to the 6000-year old Flint (who claimed to be Solomon, Alexander the Great, Lazarus, Merlin, Leonardo da Vinci, and more), as well as the Trill, whose symbionts enable them to inherit memories from deceased past hosts.
Jadzia Dax, the science officer of Deep Space 9, and her successor Ezri, are two of the most beloved Trek characters, and it’d be a fascinating to follow a long-lived character like them observing the major events of the galaxy over the centuries. I was always intrigued by Jadzia’s disclosure that one of her predecessors met Dr. McCoy while he was a student at the University of Mississippi, and that “he had the hands of a surgeon” — were they in a relationship?
The Occupation of Bajor
The Cardassian occupation of the Bajoran homeworld was the main backstory for Deep Space Nine — the decades long genocide and war to reclaim the planet, which has only just ended before the start of the series, could make for a gritty and emotional comic. It could follow the lives of previously established characters (like Kira Nerys) during the war, or star new ones: either way, it’d be an topical opportunity to reflect real life stories of survival and oppression, drawing on accounts of people from Syria, Palestine, the Balkans, Mali, North Korea, and so on.Continued below
Birth of the Borg
Arguably the most terrifying foe Starfleet ever faced, the Borg Collective are as faceless as they are formidable. My personal feeling is that the their origins should never be revealed, but since only the TV shows and films are canon, it couldn’t hurt to do a “what if” scenario in print. Were the first Borg a warrior race; a ravaged band of survivors from a great calamity; or a prosperous people who sleptwalk into becoming infectious sociopaths? Were they always so aggressive? And why did they decide the pale trash bag aesthetic was such a great look?
Onto more optimistic fare: we only got a very brief glimpse of the Starfleet careers of Captain Kirk’s parents at the start of J.J. Abrams’s 2009 reboot, which was set in an alternate reality where George (a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth) is killed decades before seeing his son become captain of the Enterprise. It’d be great to see how George and Winona‘s lives, as well as that of their brave, noble captain Richard Robau, unfolded before and after the point of divergence in the original timeline.
Sliding Doors: Admiral Marcus
Peter Weller’s Alexander Marcus (who was, in many ways, the true villain of 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness) also has a prime reality counterpart we know next to nothing about. What were his relationships with Captain Pike, or his daughter Carol, like in the main timeline? What became of his marriage in both worlds? Was he also a high-ranking member of Starfleet and Section 31? How did he react when the war with the Klingons unfolded in Discovery, and did he meet a similarly sticky end? It’d also be great to see a prime reality take on the events of the threequel, Star Trek Beyond.
Hikaru and Ben Sulu
While on the subject, Beyond confirmed that Hikaru Sulu is gay, just like the role’s originator George Takei, and that he fathered his daughter, Demora, with a husband named Ben. It’s something IDW’s “Star Trek: Year Five” has taken a cue from, albeit with Takei’s Sulu, depicting the helmsman in a dalliance with the amphibious, ambiguously gendered alien Ayal. Whichever version they continue exploring, it’d be lovely to see Sulu’s relationship with Ben, and their daughter, fleshed out — it’s curious, how one of her fathers apparently spent all his time away in space, yet he’s the one she took after.
IDW are likely waiting until the next season of Star Trek: Picard to further explore the post-Nemesis timeframe, but the first season already planted the seeds for some potentially popular spin-offs, from Seven of Nine‘s post-Voyager adventures; to Riker and Troi balancing serving aboard the USS Titan while becoming parents; and the immediate fallout of the destruction of Romulus. Whether we see Harry Treadaway’s Narek on the show again or not, it would be interesting to see how he and his sister Narissa reacted to the disaster, and processed their complicity in it.
Regarding Romulus’s destruction, did you know Leonard Nimoy’s Spock had a wife? Picard mentions in The Next Generation episode “Sarek” that he attended his wedding when he was a lieutenant. What happened to her, and how did she react to his disappearance in Abrams’s movie? Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz’s novel Vulcan’s Heart states Spock’s wife was Saavik, who was played by Kirstie Alley in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Robin Curtis in The Search for Spock and Voyage Home, but depending on whose likeness was chosen, it might seem disrespectful to one of the actresses — therefore, it would be better to choose another of Spock’s love interests, or to invent a new character. (The book’s cover went with Curtis, but we’re discussing a whole comic here.)Continued below
“Star Trek Adventures”
Disney presumably has the trademark on the “Adventures” suffix, given it was used by both IDW and Dark Horse’s all-ages “Star Wars” comics, but it’d still be great to see something like it for Star Trek. Heather Kadin, executive producer of all the post-2017 series, mentioned while discussing Nickelodeon’s upcoming cartoon Star Trek: Prodidy, “it’s such a big franchise, [it can be hard] to get into as a kid” — so really, a comic aimed at them could only help. Perhaps the most ideal time for something like this would’ve been after the first Abrams movie, but better late than never: I think adult fans would enjoy a series that indulged in the franchise’s goofy or spooky sides more often as well.
Before we emerge from warp speed, let’s talk about creative teams: typically, IDW’s Trek books are penned by Scott and David Tipton, or former Abramsverse insider Mike Johnson. “Star Trek: Year Five” was the right step in a more diverse direction, with a writing team that includes Brandon Easton, and Jody Houser, along with Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, and Jim McCann, but they can, and should, always do more: Star Trek is a series that espouses the value of “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations,” so there should be more books by creators like Easton and Houser, eg. Vita Ayala and Danny Lore, Eve Ewing, Saladin Ahmed, and Jamal Igle. Characters like Uhura and Guinan mean so much to Black women, so why haven’t there been comics written as tributes to them by Black female writers?
Magdalene Visaggio and Claudia Aguirre’s recent comiXology series “Lost on Planet Earth” was very Trek-esque, and while we should always support creator-owned properties, it further raises the question: what kind of Star Trek stories are we missing out on? Yes, a writer like Mark Russell, Ryan North or Chip Zdarsky could always do a subversive spin on a classic Trek concept in an indie comic, but wouldn’t it grab so much more attention if it were an official ViacomCBS tie-in? To borrow from Kirk in one episode, licensed comics provide possibilities, and potential for knowledge and advancement, that could be as great as any homage.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments: as Kirk said in another episode, “Without freedom of choice, there is no creativity. Without creativity, there is no life.” So please do live long, and prosper.