Author: John Byrne
Artists: Photo novel by John Byrne
Genre: Science Fiction, Media Tie-In
Rating: All Ages
Star Trek: New Visions is a series of photonovels featuring the original crew of The Enterprise. The first issue came out in May 2014; twelve more have been released in subsequent years, with two scheduled to be released this year. The artwork is comprised of photographs taken from the original television show, manipulated and edited to tell new stories with the characters.
Violence: There is a typical Captain Kirk fight scene in which he tousles with his captor. It contains no more violence than an episode of the 60s TV show — and maybe less.
Language/Crude Humor: N/A
Spiritual Content: The inhabitants of the planet have turned their reverence for their ancestors (the crew of the Enterprise) into a pseudo-religion.
Sexual Content: N/A
Drug/Alcohol Use: N/A
Positive Content: Captain Kirk prioritizes the life of his crew over the safety of his ship, and over the mission at hand.
Other Negative Content: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are forced to decide between the lives of their offspring that they find on the planet, and the crew members back on the Enterprise. Their choice leads to the death of many.
As a fan of the original Star Trek series, I tend to jump at any novels, comics, or series that claim to continue the crew’s five year mission that was unfortunately cut short by network executives. I heard about New Visions back when the first issue was coming out in 2014. However, as a brand new college student, I couldn’t afford new graphic novel prices. I was surprised to find a couple of the books only two years later at a used bookstore for three dollars a pop. This will be the first of three posts on the books that I have. Hopefully, they will be a good sampling of the series as a whole.
Book #2, Time’s Echo, begins when the commander of Deep Space Monitor Station 18 receives some mysterious communications from the galactic core. The commander calls for the starship Enterprise, but hesitates to tell Captain Kirk the content and nature of the messages he received. Kirk and company show up at the station to discover that the messages are from Captain Kirk — one-thousand years in the past.
The crew makes the dangerous quest to an inhabitable planet near the edge of a black hole in the galactic core. On the surface of this planet are the ruined remains of the crashed Enterprise. When Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to the surface, they are kidnapped by a race that sprung up from the survivors of the crash — a race that will do anything to ensure that the Enterprise is destroyed so that their existence will be preserved.
I really appreciated the pacing and characterization of this book. It felt like a story that could have been on the TV show back in the day. The action comes in spurts. The major revelations come slowly, with deliberation and deliberateness. The characters are done well. Their banter flows naturally, and it is easy to hear it in the familiar voices of the actors.
All these components combined should make for a really entertaining read. The only problem is the art. It’s not great to look at. I would say that it was bad enough to be distracting. The photo-editing seems like it was rushed. Heads don’t line up right with bodies. Different styles of photography and animation clash with each other. Sometimes, the figures even slip into the uncanny valley.
The book also includes a short bonus story called “Sweet Sorrow”, in which Janice Rand must decide between remaining aboard the Enterprise or leaving to assist her fiance, who was severely injured in a deep space accident. The story is emotionally engaging and bridges a significant gap in Star Trek lore, but it suffers from the same visual flaws as the rest of the book.
I have books #3 and #6 waiting on my shelf to read and review. Maybe there will be some development of the art style in coming books. Maybe this is just a fluke issue. For now, I would recommend this to people looking for a good Star Trek story who are not too worried about the aesthetic value. If you’re looking for a more well-rounded continuation of the original five year mission, I would probably direct you to something like the fan-made series Star Trek Continues before I directed you to this book.
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+ Great characterization of the iconic crew. + Interesting plot that feels like it could have been an original episode.
- Poorly executed photo collage that is a little bit painful to look at. - Confusing and questionable black-hole science.
The Bottom Line
I would recommend this to people looking for a good Star Trek story who are not too worried about the aesthetic value. If you're looking for a more well-rounded continuation of the original five year mission, I would probably direct you to something like the fan-made series Star Trek Continues before I directed you to this book.