Star Trek 1251: Flesh of My Flesh

1251. Flesh of My Flesh

PUBLICATION: Star Trek: Early Voyages #1, Marvel Comics, February 1997

CREATORS: Ian Edginton and Dan Abnett (writers), Patrick Zircher and Greg Adams (artists)

STARDATE: 2252.34 (10 years before Where No Man Has Gone Before, before The Cage)

PLOT: Early in Christopher Pike's 5-year mission aboard the Enterprise, the ship encounters a massive spaceworthy biological life-form - the Ngultor - that eats ships. it wraps its tendrils around the Enterprise and kidnaps Pike, trying assimilate his "wetware" into itself. This causes a series of flashbacks to how Pike came to have the Enterprise and how he selected his crew. He fights back, which mystifies the Ngultor, for whom the merging of all life into one is the ultimate goal, and is rescued by his crewmates. As the crew defeat the Ngultor's infection disabling the shp, they are brought to the mothership. They are forced to destroy the Ngultor after in announces its intention to reap the entire Federation for bio-matter.

CONTINUITY: Most of the cast is from The Cage (Captain Pike, Spock, Number One, Dr. Boyce, José Tyler, Nils Pitcairn and Yamata). There is a scene in which Robert April (The Counter-Clock Incident) gives Pike the keys to the Enterprise. Chief engineers Moves-With-Burning-Grace would later find his way into novels like Burning Dreams and Where Time Stands Still.

DIVERGENCES: No source gives Number One the same name (I suppose it's part of the fun). In Early Voyages, Pike isn't sure what to call her, Lt. Robbins? Eure--? (incomplete). She says her Christian name carried a family curse. Similarly, various sources mention different crew in certain positions, like engineering.

PANEL OF THE DAY - And this is the baby one.
REVIEW: And so begins the first comics series to feature Christopher Pike's term as Enterprise captain. We meet the cast of characters rather cursively in the first issue, but Edginton and Abnett use the Ngultor's mind probe to set things up efficiently and entertainingly. The crew is a mix of the old and the new. Pike is a hero cast in the classic mold, not too far from Kirk at this point (though a lot more naked). Spock is Spock, and he art team successfully makes him younger (the hair? the bigger ears?). Number One is an enigma, almost dour as she takes command of the ship. Dr. Boyce is portrayed as hardier than on the show. Tyler gets a small role, and the transporter guys, Pitcairn and Yamata, apparently don't reappear in the series. As for the new kids, the writers give themselves a lot to play with. The alien Nano is really the only "comic book" indulgence, with his strange appearance and pyrotechnic powers. The backstory of his race gives them each a special niche, and he was designated an emissary so he can't ever go home again for fear of upsetting the delicate balance. Pike's yeoman is his old friend Dermot Cusack, an impertinent irish rogue (what happens to him as we fly headlong into The Cage?). Head nurse Gabrielle Carlotti has a Tholian connection in her past. Chief engineer Moves-With-Burning-Grace looks to be a Chakotay type done right. And at the conn is Sita Mohindas, who has yet to make a mark on me. Edginton and Abnett lace the retro-story with references that resonate through all of Trek, from April's former command being the USS Tiberius to his advice that invokes Admiral McCoy's in Encounter at Farpoint. There's a real love for Trek history on show, as with these guys' Star Trek Unlimited. The story of the month features a crazy, crazy, almost Lovecraftian monster that's perhaps too easily defeated (but then, it probably didn't have shields), brought to life with incredible imagination by Zircher and Adams. The art is really great in this, perfectly capturing the pre-Kirk era and adding to it (really nice spacesuit sequence), and their Ngultor creatures are wickedly awesome. At the same time, their character work is attractive, especially the ladies (Number One is just too sexy for words despite the big yellow shirt and inherent sadness). Looking forward to all 17 issues!


hiikeeba said...

Early Voyages was my hands down favorite Marvel series, though Starfleet Academy was a close second. Nice touches of continuity sprinkled throughout. Excellent writing, and great art. Can't wait to relive these issues with you.

googum said...

Agreed. Man, I miss this one.

De said...

Do you think the folks behind the Star Trek film had a soft spot for this series? The alien on the Kelvin bridge reminded me a lot of Nano.


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