Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Best Of Gary Seven May Be, But It's Still Pretty Average Comic Fodder.

The Good: Interesting stories, Good banter, General concept
The Bad: Some of the artwork, Some sense of repetition, Light on character development.
The Basics: Returning Supervisor 194 to Star Trek, the Star Trek Archives trade paperback anthology The Best Of Gary Seven delivers for fans.

It is always interesting to me to see what people pick up on when they are given a creative chance to explore established science fiction universes. While there are some obvious places to explore in the Star Trek universe, few of the stories there seem to have inspired more written endeavors than the adventures of Gary Seven. Gary Seven appeared in a single episode of the original Star Trek, "Assignment: Earth" (click here for that review!) and it was intended to be a spin-off of Star Trek for Gene Roddenberry's next cerebral, action-adventure project. "Assignment: Earth" spun-off only in the press, as it ended up. Since that episode, there have been books featuring Gary Seven on Earth in the latter half of the 20th Century. And there have been comic books, some of which are now anthologized in Star Trek Archives 3: The Best Of Gary Seven.

The Star Trek comics are often given free reign to be creative and the Archives trade paperback anthology comes on the heels of the latest IDW attempt to capitalize on Gary Seven, the Assignment: Earth trade paperback (click here for that review!). The Best Of Gary Seven is a two adventure anthology of DC comics comic books that focused on Gary Seven. There were two longer stories (issues 49 and 50 of the standard comics and the 1995 Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation Annuals) and while that might seem anemic for a trade paperback anthology, there are seven comic books worth of story in this because of how three of the four original books were double-long. The stories in this anthology are "The Peacekeeper" (Parts 1 and 2) and "Convergence" Part One - "Split Infinities" and Part Two - "Future Imperiled."

"The Peacekeeper" finds Commander Chekov helping an alien race and a StarFleet Commodore to develop a protomatter weapon's system. The device, designed to defend against attackers when all other systems are in danger of failing, is controversial as it could be a weapon of mass destruction in the wrong hands. While Kirk lobbies against the testing of the weapon - preoccupied as he is with his son's death and the failed Genesis Experiment - Admiral Cartwright pushes for the field test, which puts Scotty and Chekov on the U.S.S. Pacific testing the weapon. Unbeknownst to them, though, someone is sabotaging the test . . . a cloaked figure with a pen.

The second part of "The Peacekeeper" finds the U.S.S. Pacific lost and Kirk struggling to find his missing officers. Trapped aboard the U.S.S. Pacific, Chekov and Scotty find themselves at the mercy of Shopay and three other Aegis members. And aboard the Enterprise, Gary Seven and Isis show up to explain the reason for the intervention in the protomatter weapon's test . . . and the problem with the Pacific: Aegis rebels!

In "Convergence," Gary Seven appears on the Enterprise bridge moments before he is killed to warn Kirk that Spock is in danger. Killed by a Devidian, Gary Seven falls and Spock is abducted. While Kirk and McCoy try to figure out what has happened, Spock finds himself in an alien prison where a historical Romulan is also being kept. When Captain Harriman of the Enterprise-B is teleported there, Spock, Harriman and the Romulan figure that there is a destabilization of the relationship between the Romulans and humans at work. Exana, another member of the Aegis, appears aboard the Enterprise-A and requests Kirk help her make sure Gary Seven did not die in vain. After a little arm twisting, the Enterprise heads toward Devidia. In the future, though, Data helps rescue Ambassador Sybok right before he, too, is abducted.

The second part, "Future Imperiled" finds Guinan explaining how the timeline appears wrong and both the Enterprise-A and Enterprise-D crews converging on Devidia Four. Out of phase with one another, they work to thwart the Devidians. Meanwhile, in the prison, Gowron arrives and the captives work to escape. Exana and Kirk's crew work to thwart the Devidians, just as Picard and his crew work toward the same goals.

What doesn't work in "Peacekeeper" initially is that two officers are killed. The Aegis, as Gary Seven's organization is being called in this comic book series, are pacifistic and are not supposed to resort to killing. Moreover, that two out of three security officers are killed, but one is only wounded makes little sense. Fortunately, the explanation is not unsatisfying or illogical; the Aegis rebels allow this oddity to be explained. Still, this is somewhat problematic.

Also, the flow is fairly awkward. On page 23, of part one, the panels do not track logically, so reading left to right actually requires one read in a circular pattern in the middle of the page to get the panels in order! The artwork has Saavik looking fairly masculine and the pencils are rather sloppy in many of the frames.

Even worse is the artwork by Ken Save and Sam de la Rosa in the "Convergence" storyline. Rarely do I call out the inker (de la Rosa), but one has to ask how poor the supervision at DC was when these comics were originally made to let de la Rosa get away with such poor coloring. Troi's outfit at the end of part 1 of "Convergence" is nauseating and the fact that her hair is orange (instead of black) makes her look more like Beverly Crusher than Deanna Troi! Similarly, Ken Save's basic artwork is problematic. Gary Seven looks nothing like Robert Lansing and Harriman looks almost nothing like Alan Ruck. Given that these two characters are integral to the storyline, the lack of resemblance is not just sloppy, it breaks up the story by poorly using the medium.

What works, though, is the writing by Howard Weinstein (both stories) and Michael Jan Friedman (who co-wrote "Convergence" with him). Weinstein has a great sense of the characters with the banter from the later Star Trek movies. He has a reasonable sense of even who peripheral characters like Admiral Cartwright are. "Peacekeeper" is problematic in the writing only in that it includes references to things like budgets (there aren't in Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek) and the whole idea of a massive deterrent weapon (which has pretty much been proven to be problematic, especially in the wrong hands) being developed by StarFleet.

Also, in "Convergence," Gary Seven is not actually present for the bulk of the story (given that he is killed less than ten pages in!), so it is hard to consider it part of The Best Of Gary Seven. This volume reads more like "the ones that have Gary Seven" than the Best of Gary Seven. Still, there is enough to recommend the volume and IDW tries to give it a little extra value by including a cover gallery at the back of the anthology. As well, this book corrects a few things like spelling errors from the original comic books.

The idea of the Archives is a nice one; to give readers of Star Trek comic books a chance to have the stories without the advertisements and expense of the original comics. And this is a good collection which most Star Trek fans are likely to enjoy. But the allusions in both stories are pretty tight and those who are not familiar with the series' are likely to be lost by the references to David Marcus, Devidians, and the host of captured characters, not to mention Gary Seven himself.

But for fans of Star Trek, this is a good collection that is at least fun.

For other graphic novel reviews, please check out my takes on:
The A-Team: War Stories
Legion: Prophets


For other book reviews, please visit my index page for an organized list!

© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment