Being 50 years old this year, there’s been a massive resurgence in Stark Trek stories. From a new movie to a new TV show being put into production to new comics, it’s a good time to be a Star Trek fan. One of those new comics is “Star Trek: Waypoint”, an anthology series that showcases stories from any point in the Star Trek timeline.
This first issue, with stories from Donny Cates, Mack Chater and Sandra Lanz, showcases some short stories that explore the range of what Star Trek can be. Read on for our full spoiler free review of “Star Trek: Waypoint” #1 to find out why you shouldn’t sleep on this.
Written by Donny Cates & Sandra Lanz
Illustrated by Mack Chater & Sandra Lanz
A blockbuster bi-monthly anthology to celebrate 50 years of STAR TREK, featuring short stories across all Treks, by the top talent of today and yesterday! First, a NEXT GENERATION story by Donny Cates and Mack Chater. Unable to decipher a mysterious ship’s coded messages, Starfleet has enlisted its two greatest scientific minds, Captain Geordi La Forge and his best friend Data, to investigate. What they discover will alter the course of scientific human history as we know it! Then, an ORIGINAL SERIES story by Sandra Lanz, where a crewmember, stranded on a strange planet, encounters a bizarre alien creature. They must learn how to interact, but how?
Even if the stories in this first issue hadn’t turned out quite as good as they did, the idea behind this series would remain, frankly, genius. Taking the entire timeline of the Star Trek universe, from the earliest days of Enterprise to the unexplored future past Nemesis, and inviting comic creators to play in that sandbox with a short story of their own. It’s a way of celebrating Star Trek in its entirety as well encouraging creative ways to boil what makes Star Trek special into just a handful of comic pages. Thankfully, the stories presented in this first issue show that these creators aren’t just interested in replicating what came before, but charting the creative future for Star Trek comics.
The first story is titled ‘Puzzles’ and is written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Mack Chater, coloured by Jason Lewis and Dee Cunniffe, and lettered by Andworld Designs. It is a Next Generation story set some time after the events of Nemesis and follows Geordie La Forge and Data as the Enterprise comes across a seemingly unsolvable puzzle. This story is really the meat of this issue and is a fantastic first impression for this series.
Donny Cates’ writing is weighty, cerebral and moralistic, feeling worthy of being ranked among the best of Star Trek episodes. The story puts two of the smartest minds in Star Trek into a very real Kobayashi Maru-style scenario and the joy of this story is seeing the two of them work their way through the puzzle while the lasting emotional weight of the writing is knowing they can’t solve it without consequences.
This is a surprisingly dark story and that’s illustrated by the artwork from Mack Chater and the colours from Jason Lewis and Dee Cunniffe. There’s a grittiness to the artwork, from the heavy lineweights to the textures in the colouring to the way the interior of the Enterprise is perpetually shone in the sickly green lights of the monitors. This is a far cry from the bright white walls and lens flares of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, both in tone and in aesthetic.
It’s an effect that works, though, as the less fancy artwork illustrates the dark underlying nature of the story. Moments of hope in the story must first punctuate the harshness of the artwork and that makes them all the more effective when they land. It especially helps that Chater nails the likenesses of Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton, bringing an extra level to the weight of this story.
The second story is… a weird one, and I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to talk about it. Titled ‘Daylily’, it is written and illustrated by Sandra Lanz and lettered by Andworld Designs. It’s an Original Series story that follows Uhura when she is stranded in a desert during a storm after a transporter room accident when she meets… well, you know how the Enterprise‘s five year mission is to seek out new life and new civilisations?Continued below
While the first story was very cerebral and moralising, Lanz’s story is much more in the moment and abstract. It focuses on the small details, as evidenced by her page layouts. Many of her pages have between seven and nine panels, allowing her to break down the story into smaller moments that focus on the details of the interaction.
It’s a sweet story that feels like a scene from a larger Star Trek episode as opposed to the first story which felt like an episode in and of itself. Here, Lanz focuses on one small part of what Star Trek means, showing the interaction between Uhura and a strange, new lifeform and the importance of her reactions. The artwork here is much brighter, much more in line with the vibrancy of The Original series, and beautifully strange.
The palette is bright and vibrant, with maroons and purples and greens as background colours to illustrate the otherworldly nature of the environment Uhura has found herself in. It’s a strange one with an ending that might not land for many people, but stands in complete tonal and structural opposition to the first story to showcase the variety of stories that can be told in this universe.
Overall, this is a fantastic first impression for “Star Trek: Waypoint”, showcasing two stories that emulate the best of what Star Trek has to offer. Both of these stories will have immediately recognisable elements for anyone with even a passing knowledge of Star Trek and the stories are self-contained enough that pretty much anyone could pick up this issue and enjoy the stories within. From cerebral puzzlers that show a depth of emotion and moralising to a simple encounter in which the small moments and reactions mean the difference between acceptance and fear, this one issues encapsulates so much of what makes Star Trek so important. Important enough to last fifty years and with enough fuel for stories to last another fifty.
Final Verdict: 9.0 – Simply a fantastic first issue that promises the best of Star Trek in bitesized stories.