Saturday, April 28, 2007

Judging a comic by its cover(s)?

I can feel myself getting testy about the multiple covers marketing strategy of IDW Publishing's Star Trek comics!

Handsome comics, but... This week, the fourth issue of their "Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between" mini-series came out. This one has three alternative covers: a rather lovely art cover of Data, Picard, Riker and Worf posed on a planet, with the Enterprie-D in close orbit (which I bought); a LaForge photo cover, with a Data photo inset (ie. more like a magazine, aimed at casual buyers); and, on the limited edition one, a closeup profile sketch of Worf.

Now, way back when Malibu Graphics did the DS9 comics, there was a tendency for certain issues to come out with alternate photo covers, or foil stamping, or holographic paper, to generate consumer excitement - and most times I was tempted into buying one of each, even though the internal art and text were identical in each version.

But my collecting space is at a premium, and becoming more and more unwieldy, and with the so-called "shop incentive exclusives" from IDW so expensive ($AU19.00 and even $AU29.00, sometimes - as only a few are sent for every batch ordered of the regular $AU8.00 covers), they are certainly more annoying than "collectible".

What sent me off the deep end on Thursday was the premiere issue of the new TOS mini-series, "Klingons: Blood Will Tell". Despite me putting in an order for this mini-series, and then a few weeks later advising that I wanted the simultaneous Klingon Language Version as well, the shop had neither comic listed under my name! The inside back cover of this new comic reveals a staggering seven alternate covers! The regular art cover of Kirk and Kor is one (the one I settled upon); a photo cover of Kor the Klingon; a truly stunning painted cover (see below) of Spock, Kirk and Kor (the rare one); the same cover (even rarer!) without titles impeding the artwork; a Comics Pro exclusive edition, with another photo cover; and then two Klingon Language Versions (another photo cover, and a red/black foiled logo cover). Seven covers? Just how are the comic shops supposed to keep track, especially when the prices are so variant? I'm cranky that my comic shop let me down, despite my numerous reminders - but anyone would get lost tracking seven covers for just one comic.

Klingons poster

Rant over. So how're the two stories?

Quite good; I had a chance to devour both of them today. "TNG: The Space Between" features a story called "Light of the Day", with a rather interesting, diminutive alien being taken home to a court hearing. A separate mission - eventually linked to thr first - features LaForge, Worf and Ensign Lo Laren lost on a planet of strange monks. Everyone seems to stay in character and the action moves quickly, even if the dialogue seems rather sparse at times. I'm even more intrigud to see how all the issues will meld, as promised, in the final issue.

The Klingon story tells Commander Kor's side of the events of "Errand of Mercy" (TOS), as he battled wits with Baroner (ie. Kirk) and a meek Vulcan trader, (ie. Spock). The comic also features: a cameo appearance by Doctor Phlox, the Denobulan CMO of "Star Trek: Enterprise"; hints about characters and the future as depicted in the TOS-era motion pictures; plus lots of references back to the "Affliction" and "Divergence" Klingon episodes of "Enterprise", which attempted to explain an infamous and major makeup change.

A fun story, interesting artwork, brilliant colours... sorry about the duplicate issues. Hmmmm. I can't comment on the use of Klingon language in the alternate version, 'cos I haven't seen 'em yet, have I!

Captain's Log: Supplemental. In an article here and (with gorgeous pics) here and here, the creators at IDW tell of their affection for both "Star Trek: The Animated Series" (TAS) and the Gorn!

Oh, and I hadn't seen this link before! Scheduled for the first round of "Alien Spotlight" issues are:

* Vulcans - written by Rick Remender (of "Fear Agent")
* Gorn - by Scott & David Tipton ("Klingons: Blood Will Tell")
* Borg - by Steve Niles ("30 Days of Night")
* Andorians - by Paul D Storrie ("Justice League Unlimited")
* Orion Slave Women - by Dan Taylor ("Hero Happy Hour")
* Romulans - John Byrne ("The Man of Steel", "Next Men").