What does it take to get our intrepid reviewer to buy his first Star Trek comic in a decade? Apparently, Christopher Pike and the Starship Enterprise. Join us as Robert Lyons reviews the first issue of Aftermath.
Star Trek: Discovery – Aftermath
Beyer – Johnson – Shasteen – Mettler
For the first time in a decade, I headed to the comic shop this week. I was not there to pick up an issue of an old DC or Marvel series I had missed… this time, I was there for fresh material. Discovery writer Kirsten Beyer and IDW vet Mike Johnson bring us into the landscape following the season finale of Star Trek: Discovery with this week’s release of Aftermath.
Coming in at twenty pages, Aftermath felt very brief. Three stories are developing in the issue – one among the Klingons, one with Spock, and one which seems primed to bring the two into direct contact in further issues. As such, each story gets a bit of a light touch, with only the Klingon storyline feeling full within this issue. The overall story and the Spock story feel very surface at this point. That makes good sense for the unifying tale, but the Spock story feels puzzling. It takes up substantial real estate within the issue (six pages for the core story, and an additional four as he is brought into the main storyline), but ultimately feels less compelling than the Klingon tale, which features what appears to be the beginning of the rise of a loved TOS villain.
In particular, the Beyer/Johnson duo effectively capture the spirit of L’Rell, Pike, and Spock throughout the issue. The chancellor’s calculating nature, Pike’s gentle humour and thoughtfulness, and Spock’s sometimes clueless observation of life come across clearly, even with the limits of the medium.
The art, drawn by Tony Shasteen and coloured by J.D. Mettler, is generally good. There are a few panels that feel oddly out of place… one of which appears to be a publicity still of Anson Mount as pike that I have seen dozens of times before… but otherwise, the presentation is good, and the inking vivid and tone-setting. Particularly effective is the use of sepia-hued panels during a key flashback scene featuring Spock and Michael Burnham. The use of the tone effectively highlights the memory quality of the interaction, and contrasts nicely with the ‘now’ Spock’s reflections in light of his memory.
Angel Hernandez’s cover is quite inviting, bringing forth imagery evocative of the second season of Discovery. The retailer incentive cover, from the imagination of George Caltsoudas, features a very different vibe which seems to draw on modern animation and sixties design for unique imagery that unites many of the same themes as the regular cover.
While I wasn’t blown away by the issue, I understand comics are a different medium than novels. As a former Star Trek comic reader (I was an avid collector of the DC second run in the 1990s, and count the Early Voyages series by Paramount Comics as my favourite Trek comics of all time), I know that it takes time for a story to develop across issues, so I wasn’t expecting significant development in issue one. I am excited, however, to see where issue two goes.