Voyaging from star beasts’ bellies to alternate timelines
Akiva Goldsman says Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will be “very much adventure-of-the-week but with serialized character arcs.” Goldsman could just as well be describing Star Trek Early Voyages.
The book took Pike’s Enterprise from the belly of a gigantic, starfaring, flesh-scavenging beast (issue #1), to a planet populated by a tribe of still-warlike Vulcans (issues #5-6), to a farming colony struggling to fend off Klingon invaders (issue #7), and to other exciting and intriguing destinations.
Yet Abnett and Edginton’s carefully constructed character arcs, given life by the visual team’s first-rate efforts, make the series feel tightly unified. Seeds planted in early issues—for example, Dr. Boyce’s struggle with voices only he can hear in issue #3—pay off to great effect in later ones. Interpersonal relationships change, especially the tentative romance between Yeoman Colt and Joe Tyler. And the introduction of Commander Kaaj, a recurring Klingon adversary for Pike, gives the whole series a tension-filled throughline.
The series’ standout story is “Futures” (issues #12-14).
Thanks to an enigmatic alien artifact that resembles nothing so much as a palantir from The Lord of the Rings, Yeoman Colt finds herself in an alternate future timeline in which a Jim Kirk who washed out of Starfleet and his crew of renegades must team up with Captain Pike and the crew of the Enterprise-A—a hybrid of Pike’s original officers and more familiar faces such as Sulu, Uhura, and Saavik—to send Colt back in time while saving themselves from Klingon General Chang.
The plot hits many of the same beats as the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” but the “remix” of characters and timelines is fascinating and full of delights for long-time fans.
Presciently, it also anticipates the Star Trek: Discovery episode “Through the Valley of Shadows,” giving Pike a glimpse of his tragic future. If Star Trek Early Voyages, in its brief run, planned to deal with how Pike’s foreknowledge of his fate affected him, surely it will prove a plot point too tempting for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds to resist.