Best Shots Review: STAR TREK - WAYPOINT #1 (10/10)

"Star Trek: Waypoint #1" preview
Credit: IDW Publishing
Credit: IDW Publishing

Star Trek: Waypoint #1
Written by Donny Cates and Sandra Lanz
Art by Mack Chater, Jason Lewis, Dee Cunniffe and Sandra Lanz
Lettering by Andworld Designs
Published by IDW Publishing
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

Often modern Star Trek stories come across somewhat lacking. While they present plenty of space-faring action, they miss the wonder and optimism that made the central idea of the shows so engaging. Thankfully IDW Publishing’s latest anthology, Star Trek: Waypoint #1, published in celebration of the show’s 50th anniversary, absolutely nails the feeling of classic Trek.

Credit: IDW Publishing

Containing two stories, one from the “Next Generation” era and the other set during the “Original Series,” this debut presents a diverse and thoughtful approach to the kind of stories that can be told within the franchise with plenty of dazzling science fiction visuals from pencilers Mack Chater and Sandra Lanz. While light on action and phaser battles, Star Trek: Waypoint #1 is exactly the kind of title that should be carrying the Federation’s standard going into its 50th anniversary.

While most anthology titles play coy with their scope in the early goings, Waypoint starts out big, and it’s all the better for it. “Puzzles,” the opening Next Generation story from writer Donny Cates and the art team of Mack Chater, Jason Lewis, and Dee Cunniffe, is a tale right at home with the kind of complex moralistic adventures the show dealt with. Captain Geordi La Forge, now commanding the Enterprise with a crew full of hologram Datas, is called to investigate a mysterious cube ship that has appeared in deep space. What follows is a emotional story touching on themes of duty, friendship, the nature of the Prime Directive, and the famous Trek axiom of “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.”

Credit: IDW Publishing

“Puzzles” is followed by the classic era story “Daylily,” in which a transporter accident separates Lt. Uhura from the rest of her away team, causing her to encounter a strange plant-like creature that can mimic human behavior. The two form a quick bond as she studies the creature and marvels at its quick intelligence. Both Donny Cates and Sandra Lanz adapt well to the voices of the characters they choose to include, but more than that, both stories really tap into the deep pathos and lofty themes that make Star Trek such an enduring franchise.

More than that, both stories capture the wonder of space travel and the mysteriousness of deep space without the taking the lazy track of pitting the Federation against some antagonist just to give the artists a big space battle to draw. It is also not lost on me that both of these first stories feature leads of color, leaning into the inclusiveness of Starfleet that is often spoken of, but never truly acted on. Donny Cates and Sandra Lanz present entertaining canon-worthy entries for this debut and keep them both narratively in line with the ideals of the franchise starting this new anthology series on a great note.

Credit: IDW Publishing

While the stories of Waypoint work to keep this debut in line with the franchise narratively, both art teams deliver stylish, screen accurate pages to go along with the reverent scripts. Penciler Mack Chater and colorists Jason Lewis and Dee Cunniffe handle “Puzzles” and deliver sweeping vistas of space and a keen eye for scale as the Enterprise is dwarfed by the huge cube ship in the story’s opening splash page.

This team also acquits themselves well to expressive and florescent colored scenes like all of the interiors between the Datas and Geordi conferring on the bridge as well as Data’s thoughtful incursion into the cube’s systems, which they render as a Kubrickian white space dotted with concentric patterns. In “Daylily,” artist and colorist Sandra Lanz takes the same expressive approach to her story, but with a more smoother set of pencils and brighter colors as Uhura makes an alien friend in the middle of lush backgrounds filled with xeno-plant life. Though not the most splashy of debuts, the visuals of Waypoint keep in step with the humanist and optimistic script for a satisfying Trek experience.

Though IDW Publishing has delivered rousing Trek stories in the past few have touched on the narrative themes and characterizations as well as Star Trek: Waypoint #1. By deftly bouncing between eras with respect this anthology presents the franchise in a light that is more entertaining than dry, while still staying true to what made it last for fifty years in the first place. If you like your Star Trek with a more moral quandaries and character centered storytelling and less red alerts and photon torpedoes then Star Trek: Waypoint #1 is the series for you.

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