Star Trek the Manga

An impression of the series from the first volume

Today I’m going to be taking a look at Star Trek the Manga. Let’s have a look at the blurb:

Japanese-style sequential art combines with the most renowned science fiction franchise ever created to capture the spirit of the original series in a completely new way. Ten artists and writers deliver tales of triumph aboard the original NC-1701. Like the original TV series, these new journeys venture into the terrian of social politics, personal reflection... and bare-knuckled brawls between the dashing Captain Kirk and various indigenous beasts. Spock’s unflappable logic, Bones’ flare for drama, Scotty’s perpetual struggle to keep the lights on... all come at you in a fresh new style.

Star Trek the Manga contains five short stories staring the original cast of characters from the original Star Trek universe, each story feeling about the same length as a television episode would.

Let’s be quite clear. Star Trek the Manga is a lot of things, but what it is not is some kind of ongoing second birth of the original series - what we have been given is volumes of material which are for now effectively a few one-off specials. Plus, you have to bare in mind that each chapter has a different author and a different writer, so there is no continuity or even consistency of artwork in the series.

Basically it’s a collection of fan fiction then. Star Trek has tons of fan fiction, so why would anyone want to bother with this comic, especially as unlike most fan fiction you have to pay for it? Well, it’s an officially licensed and officially commissioned collection, which acts well as a measure of quality-control. But the reason I’d recommend buying this is that all of the stories are well written, and all come very close to the feel of the original show and characters.

For the most part, each are almost as if someone had taken a previously unknown Star Trek Episode and pinned it into book form. (I just didn’t get that classic feeling from the movie reboot, so if you felt that the film was crushing your childhood memories of Star Trek then I think you might like this comic better.)

Probably the thing that I like most about each chapter is that while the cast all seem as they were, the plot-lines are all slightly updated for the current age. What do I mean by that? I mean putting the crew of the enterprise up against an anime-style super villain. I mean putting the enterprise up against a small army of giant mecha. Now, I know that sounds gimmicky; almost like The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones. But they pull it off really well, managing to make it both cool and thought-provoking at the same time.

I’ve only read the first of the three volumes, but after this I’m definitely going to be getting the next two. Which is a little bit of a surprise for me, because after disliking the Phoenix Wright Manga (which is in pretty much the same format) I thought I wouldn’t like this either. But there you go, here’s proof the format can be made to work.

Whether you should get it as well depends on whether you liked Star Trek and whether you can adjust to the art style changing every chapter; if the answer to both questions is yes then I say go take a look.