A couple of weeks ago, we were chatting about Star Trek comic books. As noted earlier, I am awfully fond of certain DC and Marvel journeys through the Trek universe. It occurred to me that I had not read any of the more recent IDW stuff. To correct that glaring oversight, I picked up IDW’s trade paperback Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Space Between.
This TPB collects all six issues of the The Space Between miniseries.
When evaluating Trek comics, I look for three primary elements to guide me:
There are two aspects I consider in regards to the artwork in Star Trek comics. First, are the characters recognizable? While I am not looking for portrait quality representations of Picard and Worf, I do want to see that the characters in the book match up to what is seen in the TV show. I should be able to identify them; I should be able to pick them out in a line up. Artist Casey Maloney does a remarkable job of both capturing the feel of these characters so well known to us, yet also making them organic to the medium. Movement and expression is fluid.
Second, do the starships look cool? Many artists are skilled at character illustration, few though seem to have the chops to sketch out an exciting splash page of starship combat.
Brief aside… I drew a comic back when I was in high school that contained numerous original characters, but from time-to-time characters from other works would appear. Spock frequently made guest appearances. I was always happy with my character work, less so with my starship rendering. This is when I would enlist the help of my buddy Phil, who drew spectacular starships. I would leave panels blank and have him populate them with the needed spacecraft. He did beautiful work penciling out majestic Starfleet cruisers. It is amusing to note that while Phil was a gifted starship illustrator, he lacked an eye for continuity. Within the same story and absent narrative to indicate such, his U.S.S. Enterprise would change from original series ship to original crew movie Enterprise, sometimes within the same page!
Casey Maloney is the whole meal deal. He artfully renders the Enterprise, faithful to the craft of the show. His Enterprise is graceful, imposing. Pretty pages are found within this book.
Do the characters sound right? Are they true to the source material? For the most part, the answer here is yes. We learn nothing new about the crew of the Enterprise in these pages, nor are we provided any insights demonstrating additional depth. Instead, we are provided with solid examples of what we might see in a rather forgettable series episode.
Within the confines of story I look for several things. Is the premise clever? Is it well-told? Does the story fit within established continuity? Is the setting appropriately used to best effect? Is it authentic to canon Trek? Not one of these stories written by David Tischman grabbed me. Each was predictable and, really, they’re stories seen before, told better elsewhere. I lost faith in Tischman about midway in.
The Enterprise is taking a pounding from an enemy vessel when Riker reports: “That last shot took out the left nacelle…!”
Um… left nacelle?
It’s a naval vessel. That’s the port nacelle, my friend.
I know that seems nit-pickish of me, but it’s the kind of error that sent me right out of the experience. It was jarring.
Since the stories never took any chances, continuity was never really at issue.
All-in-all, I’m glad I read it. The pictures alone made it worthwhile. Other than that, I cannot recommend The Space Between.