This post spoils the shocking surprises of The Wrath of Khan and probably other Trek films, in case that’s a problem.

§ March 2nd, 2015 § Filed under star trek § 9 Comments

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.

images from Star Trek #1 (February 1984) – cover by George Perez, interiors by Mike W. Barr, Tom Sutton and Ricardo Villagran; Star Trek #11 (February 1985) by Barr, Sutton and Villagran; Star Trek #36 (March 1987) by Len Wein and Gray Morrow

9 Responses to “This post spoils the shocking surprises of The Wrath of Khan and probably other Trek films, in case that’s a problem.”

  • Bill D. says:

    I just started reading this series in the past year or so thanks to the (up to when it was published) complete Trek comics DVD-ROM and was surprised by how good it was… most of the Trek comics I’ve read felt pretty stifled and afraid to really do anything with the property (like most licensed books, really), but I’ve been impressed by what I’ve read so far in that they told stories that really seemed to matter. I also appreciated that they filled out the cast with original characters and even brought back folks of questionable canonicity like Arex, M’ress, and Lt. Naraht. Fun stuff.

  • Green Luthor says:

    You mentioned the Star Wars comics not being able to use Han between TESB and RotJ, but there was a closer analogy to the rest of the Spock situation between ANH and TESB. At one point in the comics, Han was able to settle his debt with Jabba the Hutt (back when Jabba was that weird yellow humanoid thing). (Basically, Han encountered Jabba, they got put into a dangerous situation, Han saved Jabba, Jabba cancelled the debt.) But then, of course, Han’s debt was crucial to TESB, so, right before then, Marvel threw together a one-page epilogue that showed that a previous bad guy that Han stopped was being financed by Jabba, so Jabba reinstated the debt to make up for the lost revenue. The dangers of licensed comics, I guess…

  • Rich H. says:

    For my money, DC’s first series remains the best Trek comic storyline to date.

  • Randal says:

    I wish IDW hadn’t seemingly abandoned their chronological Stardate Collection hardcovers AND their omnibus reprints. Was looking forward to a consistent collection.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “So the weird thing about this particular Star Trek series, the first from DC Comics”

    Was that it started out REALLY GOOD! After 2 second rate series, from Gold Key, then Marvel, this WAS a surprise!

    ” with a yellow bird man.”

    I liked the yellow bird dude!

    “Star Trek IV: Free Willy”


    “I mean, literally in the comic he’s explicitly described as being back at square one”

    I didn’t like that they killed off the ENTIRE crew of Spock’s ship! They could have fixed the new movie continuity without doing THAT.

  • Kurt Onstad says:

    So, what ship were they using between the third and fourth movies in the comics?

  • De says:

    Kurt: They used the U.S.S. Excelsior.

  • Eric Houston says:

    For me, especially after Star Trek IV, I really enjoyed the time the book spent with some of their original, lower decks crewmen, like Lt. Bearclaw and Klingon officer Konom.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “what ship were they using”

    The USS Pointy Ears.

    (McCoy named it! )

    ” Lt. Bearclaw and Klingon officer Konom”

    Bearclow was a dick! Konom was awesome!