It’s important to note I’ve really been digging Star Trek Discovery. There’s a lot of criticism for the show floating around, but I like the characters, the stories, and the aesthetics of the latest Trek show. Going into the comic book tie-in, I was excited. Would we learn the backstories of minor characters like Lt. Owosekun or Dr. Culber? Maybe we’d see the experiments of Lt. Stamets or see what happened to Commander Landry that made her such a jerk. Suffice to say, I came away from this first issue disappointed.
Written by Kirsten Beyer and Mike Johnson
Illustrated by Tony Shasteen
Colored by J.D. Mettler
Lettered by AndWorld Design
Warp into adventure with this new comic book series that ties into the new Star Trek television show premiering in late September on CBS All Access in the U.S., the Space channel in Canada and Netflix throughout the rest of the world! Details remain secretive so we can’t show you covers yet, but we can tell you that you won’t want to miss this very special KLINGON-centric series. Be prepared for action, adventure, and Star Trek at its best! Bullet points: * Co-written by Discovery writer and Trek novelist Kirsten Beyer and longtime Trek comic book writer Mike Johnson! * Art by Star Trek comic book veteran and fan-favorite Tony Shasteen, of the hit series, Boldly Go! * Explore the strange new worlds and new civilizations of Discovery each month! * Each issue features a ‘ships of the line’ cover by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire! A great first look at the new ships of Discovery!
Really, this is on me. I should have read the entire title of the comic before opening it up. As it happens, this issue is fully titled “Star Trek Discovery: The Light of Kahless.” The Klingon storyline on Discovery is fine, but is definitely one of the weaker aspects of the show. Still, that’s no reason to dismiss a comic out of hand. Plenty of great stories have been told on subjects that seem initially dull or ridiculous. It’s important to assess a comic on its own merits.
Unfortunately, “The Light of Kahless” is dull, duller than a neglected bat’leth. It’s told from the perspective of Voq, the albino Klingon who served as our main Klingon character before disappearing a few episodes into the series. There’s rampant fan speculation as to what’s become of Voq, but if there’s a clue in this issue, it’s too subtle for me. That’s saying something, because I’m far enough down the rabbit hole to know the actor who allegedly plays Voq, Javid Iqbal, translates roughly into English as “live long and prosper.” That’s some top level conspiracy stuff.
None of that plays into the issue. Voq tells his fellow Klingons the story of their fallen leader, T’Kuvma. As it happens, his childhood was full of fighting and brutality. We see he was religious, but the comic doesn’t quite capture the heavy metal magic episodes of the series have. I wasn’t pumping my fist and wishing to be worthy of entering Sto-vo-kor, I was just reading a very typical warrior origin.
OK, the story is a bore, but what about the script? It too falls down on the job. There are two ways this comic could have been written, clearly or theatrically. What it couldn’t be is casual and that’s what a lot of the dialogue feels like. “I will wipe my ass with this armor,” one warrior says in the first few pages, sounding like a douchey bro. Maybe he’s one of those Beverley Hills Klingons who bullies nerds on the beach. None of the characters sound like proud alien warrior vikings, nor do they talk like regular people. They all feel like terrible bros.
The artwork ain’t bad. For the most part. The Klingons are modeled on their updated space-orc design from the new show. There are a lot of characters, and I worried that it would be tough to tell them apart, but Tony Shasteen does a pretty good job at giving every Klingon a different face. Colorist J.D. Mettler nails the different Klingon skin tones, and creates a lot of variety, even within the confines of grey, white, and brown.Continued below
That being said, most of the story takes place on the Klingon homeworld of Qo’nos, and it is a dreary place. The surface of Qo’nos has the color palette of the latest Call of Duty shooter, which is to say a lot of brown. The interiors of ships are gorgeous, but we only spend half the issue there. That’s a script problem more than an art problem, but something could have made the Klingon homeworld look more exciting. A storm, a city skyline, anything.
IDW puts out a lot of Star Trek series, and it’s mostly to their detriment. There are a plethora of timelines, ships, crews, eras, and settings could choose from. It’s too much, and each comic series muddies the waters as to what they are all about. “The Light of Kahless” addresses that problem nicely by having a pinpoint focus, but chooses it badly. There’s a reason the Klingons aren’t the main characters of the show. Starfleet is more interesting. There are more personalities, more story potential, not just grunting and violence.
All that is unfortunate, because I still want to read a Discovery series. I’m not totally anti-Klingon, but I want something more than unnecessary backstory. I want characters I can connect with, and a story that feels substantive. I want to explore strange new worlds, and to meet new life, and new civilizations. “The Light of Kahless” is just spinning its wheels until a series comes along that takes off with a hyperdrive.
Final Verdict: 3.2 – “The Light of Kahless” tells a mostly familiar story, but worse.