‘Into Darkness’ with a Flashlight: Learning Secrets, Having Fun Until New ‘Star Trek’ Film Arrives

By February 22, 2013
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With Star Trek Into Darkness now less than three months away, you might find yourself beginning to get the “itch” for more adventures featuring Captain Kirk and the Starship Enterprise. First of all, welcome to my life 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Second of all, I have some advice on some things you can enjoy (some of which right now) that lead directly into the sequel to 2009’s sci-fi smash hit.

Since 2007, comic book publisher IDW has held the rights to the entire Star Trek franchise, and they’ve been making some truly stellar books as a result. Their first effort right out of the gate, Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Space Between, was a pretty strong first showing that made fans like me very anticipatory to see what would come next. When we started to get word that a new Trek film was coming our way, I was really curious to see what, if anything, IDW would do to tie into the film.

I would be far, far from disappointed. IDW announced a 4-issue mini-series simply called Star Trek: Countdown that promised to contain the major backstory elements leading into the new film. As I read it, I was astonished. It was reading this series that I began to slightly get what was going on with the movie. It started in The Next Generation era, not a rebooted pre-Kirk era as I initially thought. Reading that series was extraordinarily helpful when I sat down to watch the new film in May of 2009.

When the details about the release of Star Trek Into Darkness started to become more specific, I was wondering how IDW would yet again take advantage of it, especially now that we know how much of a success that film was. Knowing that the new release wouldn’t occur until 2013, I was pretty surprised when the publisher announced that a new, ongoing series taking place after the events of the 2009 film. It would simply be called Star Trek, and some of the creative direction for the series was to be determined by Roberto Orci, one of the screenwriters of the 2009 film and its forthcoming sequel (who is also a huge Star Trek fan).

Beyond that, the announcement surrounding this series was made even more meaningful when the publisher came out and said that the events of this series are canonical, meaning that when you sit down for the new film this May, these comics will have happened in the characters’ lives. That was very, very interesting to me.

Star Trek #1 shipped in early November of 2011. The routine of about the first 13 issues of the new series was really fun for me and other original series fans, because it took the events of classic episodes and reimagined them for the new timeline established by the 2009 film. When trying to glean more details about how the series would tie into the upcoming film, primary scriptwriter Mike Johnson said that there are specific hints about the film’s plot embedded in the stories for the first several issues, but it’s likely that most people won’t pick up on them until after the film comes out. Still, the series is a consistently good read month-to-month and should fill in some gaps pretty nicely.

After the first year, the series began moving to spotlight specific members of the Enterprise crew. The issues focusing on Dr. McCoy and Uhura were particularly great reads, that both give greater insight we didn’t ever know about both characters’ pasts. The reason that the series moved into this format was because it had to make way for another series that would be doing a lot of heavy lifting, and apparently lead us straight into the beginning of the new film. It’s a new 4-issue series called Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness.

Like the last Countdown series that IDW produced, direct input from Roberto Orci is being implemented and characters thought gone from the new Star Trek continuity have appeared. So far, we’re 2 issues deep and while the series has told an engaging story, it’s not yet obvious exactly how it leads into the new film. In a lot of ways, though, it doesn’t matter. We’re getting well-written Trek stories that matter in the scheme of the new continuity, and may just give us an edge in knowledge that other moviegoers may not have. That sounds like a proverbial flashlight as we walk Into Darkness.

But the fun in the Star Trek universe doesn’t stop at comics, since this April, Namco Games will also be giving us an interactive adventure taking place after the events of the 2009 film. Billed as the most ambitious co-op gameplay experience on this generation of game consoles, the simply titled game Star Trek will allow you to play with a buddy as Captain Kirk and Spock. As an avid console gamer I’m definitely looking forward to what the game will bring, but I still have to admit some slight shock because even almost four years after the 2009 film, I’m still not used to Star Trek being cool. With all of the attention it’s getting, can you reach any other conclusion?

So, if you think that there’s nothing you can do to get excited for the upcoming release of Star Trek Into Darkness, I hope that I’ve convinced you that you’re very, very wrong. Between the comics, the video game, as well as things like the mobile apps, as well as every single Star Trek TV show still streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic vision of the future before the film bows on May 15th. Go forth, friends, and do it boldly. With these amounts of stories to keep you busy, May 15th will be here before you can set your phasers to stun.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.