This post spoils the shocking surprises of The Wrath of Khan and probably other Trek films, in case that’s a problem.
So the weird thing about this particular Star Trek series, the first from DC Comics:
…was that, coming only about a year and some months after 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, it was missing one of the primary elements of the franchise. Given that our favorite Vulcan sacrificed his life to save the Enterprise in said film, the comics were going to have to be Spockless for at least a little while.
The loss was addressed in that first issue, as our Spock stand-in Saavik gets an undue amount of grief from Kirk, as Dr. McCoy points out here:
One of the elements of this series I found interesting (and one that also came into play with Marvel’s Star Wars, especially when it had to go without Han Solo for a while) was how they had to deal with running-in-place between films. The comics were clearly intended to fit within the continuity of the films, and had to react to them or set things up accordingly.
After recovering Spock in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (SPOILER: they find him), the film ends with a slightly addled Spock who seems to be just on the cusp of recovering his former mental state. Of course, the comics aren’t going to tread water for three years waiting for whatever’s going to happen to Spock in the next film with some extended Vulcan version of Being There. Instead, during a long, and actually pretty good, Mirror Universe story (back when those were rare things) our not-yet-recovered Spock encounters the “evil” goateed Spock:
…an interaction that results in having a functional Spock in the comic book series for the next couple of years.
Well, at least until just before Star Trek IV: Free Willy is about to be unleashed, where it’s clear that the film picks up pretty much right where the previous one left off, with no consideration at all given to the fact that between then and “now” Spock was out having adventures with a yellow bird man. Nope, IV was going to feature a Spock still recovering from his “death,” and thus in the comics he had to be knocked back to square one in order to match up continuity-wise with the films. I mean, literally in the comic he’s explicitly described as being back at square one:
“It’s like some kind of…cosmic reset button was pressed, Jim…I don’t understand it!”
Anyway, after IV wrapped up the three film arc that began in Wrath of Khan, the comics may have had an easier time of it by not having to bookend their storylines with putting all the pieces in place to match movie continuity. But at the same time, in a weird sort of way, by not having to directly tie into the films, the comics seemed to lose a little something, some sense of “essentialness” to the franchise as a whole. Okay, not like any of this is essential by any means, but there was a loss of connection to the larger picture that I missed having during those first five or so years of DC’s Star Trek series…a connection that I haven’t really felt in any franchise’s comic book tie-in since.