Star Trek's Comic Book Starting Point

Star Trek: Countdown, coming from IDW in January

Star Trek is returning to theaters on May 9th for the first time since Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002. This time, as Trekkers and non-Tekkers alike know, the film version of Gene Roddenberry’s iconic space exploration series won’t feature the cast of The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine or even the venerable original cast. Of course, that’s not saying that the original crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise won’t be in it.

2009’s Star Trek, directed by J.J. Abrams, will be a re-start of the original five-year mission, featuring younger actors portraying the classic crew members. Beginning around the time a young, headstrong James T. Kirk arrives at Starfleet Academy (circa 2250) the film will see the crew’s first meeting (with younger actors playing Spock, Scotty, McCoy, Uhura and the rest), Kirk’s assumption of command of the Enterprise, and the introduction of Nero, the Romulan who fills the villain role in the film.

Before the film reaches theaters, however, IDW Publishing will lay the groundwork for the story in the four-issue Star Trek: Countdown. Written by Mike Johnson and Tim Jones, and based on a story by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, Countdown will not only introduce Nero, but also span the gap between Nemesis and the Enterprise’s earliest voyages in Star Trek.

Coming up with that angle on the story was no easy task, says Andy Schmidt, editor of Countdown.

“When we started this, what needed to be worked out was the creative angle on it more than anything else,” Schmidt says. “How would it fit with the new film and would it actually be a good story? It turns out, with the help of about a dozen people between the four companies involved - IDW, CBS Consumer Products, Paramount Pictures, Bad Robot, and Kurtzman/Orci Productions - that a great story was un-earthed. We got the writers of the film to help out and sign off on the story to ensure that our series would be an important component to the overall experience of the new movie. It's really turned into something special.”

Schmidt credits Orci and Kurtzman with figuring out how the bridge story could work with both a four-issue miniseries and the movie, as well as the placement of the comic’s central character.

“We're essentially introducing readers to Nero, the film's major villain, and telling his story,” Schmidt says. “You'll get a lot of firsts in this series - you'll see a lot of stuff that's in the movie for the first time here and get to know the characters so that when you walk into the film, you're already going to care about them. They're really tremendous characters with a lot of dramatic conflict and flair.

“Writers Mike Johnson and Tim Jones fleshed the story out into an outline for the four issues and, with approval from me, CBS Consumer Products and Paramount, and then worked it into scripts. It sounds like a lot of cooks in the kitchen, and it is, but what impressed me was how we were all pretty much on the same page. It's a very fluid process.”

Star Trek theatrical poster

And as for that cover above that pays homage to the movie’s teaser poster? Schmidt agreed that yes, the characters are who they look like, and yes, the all play some role in Countdown - even a Leonard Nimoy-looking “old” Spock (who also makes a cameo in the coming film).

“If the movie was 45 minutes longer, this is what those 45 minutes would be,” Schmidt says of Countdown’s story. “Our story starts off before the film begins, introduces the central conflict of the film as well as many of the characters involved and takes you through an action-packed story that ends just a moment before the film opens.”

As for what will happen with the Star Trek comic projects at IDW, Schmidt says that the trek-based comics will be making a “bold direction change, but I will say it is not entirely because of what the film ‘does’ to the series. But things are only beginning to heat up!”

Asked if IDW will launch a new Star Trek series that follows in the film’s perceived new timeline, Schmidt’s answer will certainly cause eyebrows to rise on some Trek fans: “What new timeline? And yes.”

Finally, prodded for information about the coming movie, Schmidt begged off, saying that he only knows enough about Star Trek in order to properly edit the prequel comic series. Oh, and as for whether or not young Kirk is as…adventurous with the females of the galaxy as William Shatner’s version was in the original series?

“I haven't had access to the script, but I'm willing to bet that Kirk sleeps with whomever he wants. He's just that damn charming.”


Star Trek is © 2009 Paramount Pictures Corporation. © 2009 CBS Studios Inc. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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