Saturday, December 4, 2010

Spock: Reflections A "Who Cares?!" Outing Into The Star Trek Universe.

The Good: Sense of mood, One or two vignettes
The Bad: Utterly pointless stories, Artwork is terrible, Nothing that feels terribly fresh.
The Basics: A poor anthology, Spock: Reflections is a pointless collection of underdeveloped Spock stories with poor artwork.

How quick those who have the power to will exploit a franchise that otherwise seemed dead will do so when the opportunity to make a buck arises. When the latest cinematic Star Trek succeeded, fans discovered the comic book prequel, Star Trek: Countdown (reviewed here!). It became a surprisingly strong seller, which led the writers and producers of the film to release two more anthology stories, Star Trek: Nero (reviewed here!) and Star Trek: Spock Reflections. It’s pretty sad when the book on the villain is vastly better than the one on the hero, but with Spock: Reflections, that is exactly what we have.

Spock is one of the most popular characters in the Star Trek franchise and rightfully so. But because of his popularity, novelists, short story writers and comic book writers have all plumbed the depths of Spock’s story and the truth is there are far better Spock stories out in the market than Spock: Reflections. Many of the early Star Trek novels played with filling in Spock’s backstory or explored some of the consequences of his actions in the actual series. Intended to be a bridge between “Unification” – the last time viewers saw Spock on television, he was on Romulus – and his appearance in Star Trek, Spock: Reflections is a series of vignettes that does not seem in any way vital and, unfortunately, loses even dedicated readers because of how poor the artwork is in many places.

Spock is on a shuttle returning to Federation space and in the cramped cabin, he is accompanied by a talkative Saurian. As the purple-skinned businessman tries to strike up conversation, Spock is characteristically taciturn. This, however, leads his companion to say key words which cause Spock to consider his past, both recent and distant. Spock recalls meeting Captain Harriman after the loss of Captain Kirk and a time Sarek reprimanded him as a child. He remembers seeing Dr. Chapel after Spock failed to achieve kohlinar as well as T’Pring angrily greeting him on Vulcan when he returned to Vulcan to try to achieve that emotional purge. Spock also recalls an early mission with Captain Pike and another one where Kirk risked his life to save an Admiral who had gone crazy.

As for the rest of the plot, where Spock is heading and why, that would fall under Spoiler fare. It isn't hard, given the sense of musing Spock has about his memories, to figure out what is going on. And for those who read Star Trek: Countdown for the backstory of Spock on Romulus and the crisis with the supernova, this clearly prepares the readers for a sense of closure for Spock with the standard Star Trek universe. But when the reason for Spock’s travel was actually revealed, I felt more letdown than impressed.

Ultimately, Spock: Reflections is a collection of four comic book stories with a cover gallery at the back that is intended to add additional value to the anthology. But the stories are hardly vital or essential. So, for example, having one of Spock’s first missions with Captain Pike on the Enterprise might be interesting, save that writers Scott and David Tipton try to make it a life-or-death struggle that does not have the tension it needs to. Why? Because the reader knows both Spock and Pike have to survive, it completely guts the intended tension.

Generally, though, the Tiptons do have a strong grasp on the Spock character. The only real flub for character is in the vignette involving Spock and Chapel. Dr. Chapel and Spock encounter one another in a brief scene that could have been a deleted scene for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. But in that scene, Spock actually exhibits more emotion than he would at that point in the film, which is irksome because the whole scene has Chapel complaining in her own way about how detached he is and when she leaves he lets down his emotional barrier. But the fact that he let down that wall at all is out of character for Spock at that point.

What sinks the anthology outside the story is the artwork. The artwork in Spock: Reflections is terrible. Harriman, for example, looks nothing like Alan Ruck in most of the panels. Similarly, Pike is not nearly as well defined as Jose Tyler and the artwork in many of the panels is hit or miss for other vital characters. Spock is portrayed erratically, though there are a few panels that have him looking exactly like Leonard Nimoy.

It is not enough for most readers, though. Spock is a vital character and Spock: Reflections is not worth the cover price.

For other Star Trek comic anthologies, please check out my reviews of:
Death Before Dishonor
Star Trek Omnibus 1
Star Trek Archives 1: The Best Of Peter David


For other graphic novel reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

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

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