You have to admit that Star Trek’s expanded universe hasn’t gotten the same kind of respect that the Star Wars expanded universe has. With Star Wars, everything’s done under the auspices of Lucasfilm, making sure everything remains faithful and true. The fans like it, because it fleshes out those funny-looking guys who were running around in the background. Besides, Lucasfilm has also never stepped forward and said, “The expanded universe is not canon.” So, many read the novels and comics thinking that maybe, just maybe, this all really happened.
But not Star Trek. Paramount made it clear a long time ago that the Star Trek expanded universe is non-canonical. Star Trek’s expanded universe just kind of exists; another facet of the multitudes of merchandising. Besides, between five shows (6 if you count the cartoon) and 10 movies, is an expanded universe even necessary? But I digress.
As long as there has been Star Trek merchandise, there have been Star Trek comics. I’ve grown reflective of the Star Trek comics as of late. Granted, I was never a full-blown collector, but I did pick up the odd issue of DC’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, usually when the new issue of Ninja Turtles wasn’t in yet. I’m guessing no one notable has ever worked on the comics. J. Michael Strazynski, the Babylon 5 creator, wrote a few story arcs when he was a struggling writer. Peter David, whose work on the Incredible Hulk is legendary, has also written a few arcs. (David is also considered to be among the greatest of the Star Trek novelists.) In case you’re curious, here’s a brief history of Star Trek in comics:
…And promptly re-launched it in 1989. After having done a little more research, I learned that the reason for this break was because the license came up for renewal. Star Trek (Volume 2) went on to run for 7 years, giving us 80 issues, 6 annuals, 6 specials, the comic book adaptations of the Final Frontier, the Undiscovered Country, and Generations, and even one graphic novel. Only one storyline from this era has been trade paperbacked. It’s called Tests of Courage.
DC actually did some cool stuff with the original crew. As you may recall, Search for Spock ends with the destruction of the Enterprise, and they didn’t get a new Enterprise until the end of The Voyage Home. This is how they dealt with the two year absence of the Enterprise in the comics. Captain Kirk was given command of the Excelsior, and took most of the original crew with him. Spock was given command of the science vessel Surak, and took Savvik with him. So, we’d alternate between Kirk’s crew stories and Spock’s crew stories. But, let’s leave Kirk and Spock behind and jump 78 years into the future.
While DC was going strong with the original crew, they started giving us Star Trek: the Next Generation in comic form. It started with a 6-issue miniseries in 1988 (which has now been released in trade paperback), and that led to a regular series that ran from 1989 – 1996. In the regular series, there were 80 issues, 6 annuals, and an undisclosed number of specials. One storyline has been released in trade paperback format: The Star Lost.
Q was a frequent guest star in The Next Generation comics. He was a big fan of “transforming the crew.” There was this one where he said that, even though humans are a dangerous child race, they could be worse. And to prove this, he turned the whole crew into Klingons. Worf, being the only one unchanged, had to set things right. Or, there was another one where, at a funeral for a fallen crewman, Picard expressed an envy of Data’s emotionless state. So, Q snapped his fingers, and everyone became an emotionless android. That was Data’s turn to save the day.
Anyway, Star Trek’s 25th anniversary was in ‘91. To celebrate, DC released a special miniseries called Star Trek: the Modala Imperative. This was a wacky time travel adventure that saw the original crew and the Next Generation crew joining forces. And yes, it’s available in trade paperback.
A British company called Titan Books has signed a deal with DC and Paramount to release ALL of DC’s Star Trek comics in trade paperback form. The first two volumes – one for Star Trek and one for The Next Generation – will be out in the fall.
But truly, the highlight in this era has to be the Star Trek/X-Men crossover. Using the old “Enterprise falls into a parallel universe” plot device, we had the Enterprise fall into the Marvel universe. I’m not exactly sure why, but this led to an adventure with the X-Men. It was a one-shot, but it was followed by a sequel featuring the X-Men teaming up with the Next Generation crew.
Marvel lost the license in 1998 as part of their bankruptcy woes.
And that’s it for now for Star Trek comics. I got all this info from a great website called The Star Trek Comics Checklist. Over there, you can find a summary of every issue. They’ve even got scans of every cover to every issue. Check it out if you’d like to learn more.