It’s a light week for the round-up, but what we lack in numbers we more than make up for in quality! We’ve got two review this week of a couple of must reads – Star Trek: Khan #1 from IDW and Zero #2 from Image. Take it away Matt and Marcus!
STAR TREK: KHAN #1/ Written by MIKE JOHNSON/ Story by MIKE JOHNSON & ROBERTO ORCI/ Pencils by DAVID MESSINA & CLAUDIA BALBONI/ Inks by DAVID MESSINA & MARINA CASTELVETRO/ Colors by CLAUDIA SCARLETGOTHICA/ Letters by NEIL UYETAKE/ Published by IDW PUBLISHING.
The original character of Khan Noonien Singh, as designed by Gene Roddenberry, was said to have been born in Northern India and was portrayed by the great Mexican actor, Ricardo Montalbán. Given that, it was worrisome to many fans that a minority character played by a minority actor should be portrayed in the most recent Star Trek reboot film by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch without one heck of a good explanation.
Star Trek: Khan seems to have been written purely to provide said explanation and to soothe the minds of troubled fans. The issue opens with Khan on trial before The Federation for his actions during the events of Star Trek: Into Darkness, with Kirk and Spock acting as adjunct counsel on behalf of Starfleet.
It is not long before Kirk reveals a hologram of the original Montalbán Khan and says it is clearly impossible for the man who stands before them to be the unfrozen genetically engineered warrior that he claims to be. Kirk demands the truth and the Cumberbatch Khan, ominously noting that he does so “with the entirety of your so-called Federation listening…,” agrees. The rest of the issue, told in flashback without a narrator, details Khan’s childhood in New Dehli and how he came to be chosen for a program to breed the perfect soldier.
With a script co-plotted by Star Trek: Into Darkness co-writer Roberto Orci and written by experienced Star Trek comic writer Mike Johnson, this book certainly has the pedigree to answer the question of Khan’s heritage in an official capacity. Thankfully, the drama of the story is also interesting on its own terms and offers much more to the reader than simple continuity.
The artwork of this series is also top-notch. David Messina provides the artwork for the trial scenes set in “the present” and does a fine job of caricaturing the actors from Into Darkness. The artwork for the flashback sequences by Claudia Balboni and Marina Castelvetro is of similar quality, with what little action there is in this issue (such as a teenage Khan’s attempted escape from the compound where he was raised) is well choreographed.
In the end, this book promises to be an engaging read whatever the eventual explanation. Serious Star Trek fans will want to check this series out on that basis alone but there’s much here that will appeal to non-Trekker comic readers as well.
ZERO #2/ Written by ALES KOT/ Art by TRADD MOORE/ Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE/ Letters by CLAYTON COWLES/ Published by IMAGE COMICS
Zero #2 departs from the previous development of a sci-fi toned covert military operation headed by Edward Zero and dives into his childhood. The departure from the present storyline adds depth to Edward’s character and proves that Kot’s non-linear plotting for the comic can be intriguing.
Kot proves his worth as a comic writer as he takes the reader through Edward’s early education in a school specifically established to training elite killers. Kot uses dialogue to develop Edward’s experiences and personality, while he employs an internal narrative to emphasize the psychological changes he goes through during the various, twisted training exercises. In one instance the reader may smile at the childhood innocence that is developed between Edward and his classmate, Mina. In another the reader will feel repulsed by the savagery expected out of the students in order to survive.
Along with Kot’s intriguing plot development within the issue, he includes a series of government documents at the end of the issue. These documents help connect the first two issues together as they uncover a different perspective on Edward’s childhood and the previous mission. This helps keep the separate time frames in the context of a larger story.
If Kot’s writing isn’t unique enough, Zero features a collaboration of artists which allows for a different visual tone for each issue. For Zero #2, Tradd Moore takes the artistic helm and emphasizes the innocence and violence throughout Edward’s childhood. Each frame, from Edward and Mina hanging upside down from a tree to Edward’s first assassination attempt, conveys an acute awareness to the plot. With a different artist covering each issue of the series, this is a welcome surprise as it shows cohesiveness between writer and artist that should be fairly difficult to maintain in a collaborative creative venture.
With Kot’s intriguing story, that effectively jumps from one time frame to another without leaving the reader confused, and Moore’s attention to Kot’s overall plan Zero #2 is an fascinating read.