Exploring Discovery Comic Books
Oh, what difficult times these are. A veritable Vulcan's Forge-like desert for those of use looking for more adventures with the just-introduced characters from Star Trek Discovery, right? Wrong!
As we've mentioned before, this is the first time in franchise history that tie-in materials from a Trek show are being published with direct oversight from the television producers. In addition to three novels already in stores, there are two comic series waiting for you on the shelves or the digital reader of your choice. Comics are just like regular books, except if you stare at the pages and go “Whoooaaaaa!” people tend to leave you alone on the bus.
First up is The Light of Kahless, co-written by longtime Trek comic author Mike Johnson and Discovery staff writer Kirsten Beyer. The four-issue miniseries concludes right where the first episode of Discovery begins, then flashes back to give us a greater understanding about Voq, L'Rell and the mysterious would-be messiah T'Kuvma of the House of Girjah.
There have been glimpses of T'Kuvma's tale on Discovery, images, mostly, that give us a sense of how he intended to unite the various Klingon houses in an attempt to “maintain its purity” against outside influences. His early years were rough; he was taunted by older siblings for being small. His discovery of the abandoned Sarcophagus ship triggered in him an urgency to restore a chivalric Klingon order. During his studies at a monastery in Boreth, he had a vision from Kahless. Some believed that he was even Kahless reborn, and while he wasn't quite so sure about that, it didn't hurt to have such ardent followers, especially when trying to convince Kol to listen to his plans for confronting the Federation.
Between these scenes of political machinations, the comic offers plenty of Klingon color. The first page shows, as discretely as is possible, the victorious Klingons feasting on the corpse of their vanquished foe: Captain Phillipa Georgiou. “I will wipe my ass with this 'armor'!” L'Rell laughs, mid-chomp. Hey, it's just make-believe.
On a much, much more pleasant side of things, there's Discovery Annual #1, a “giant-sized” single issue comic also from Johnson and Beyer.
It's also a prequel, and about one of the greater love stories we've seen so far in the franchise: the one between Lt. Commander Paul Stamets and Dr. Hugh Culber. Turns out they courted one another just like the kids do today, through texting.
Well, that's a slight exaggeration, but their relationship is forged over late-night chats, especially as Stamets starts losing his marbles while working on a tough project. Which project? Why, only the creation of the mycelial network with his lab partner Straal (who we know is going to run into some tardigrade-size problems early in the first season.)
The story details how the sometimes-cranky Stamets makes the leap from civilian to Starfleet, and also shows how his relationship with Culber offers him the perspective he needs to accomplish his tasks.
There are also some really far-out panels of mushrooms from illustrator Angel Hernandez. Groovy.
Prequels, prequels, you say, but what about the future? That's where the series Succession kicks in.
When Michael Burnham “leaves” Captain Lorca on the other side and takes the Terran Emperor with her, Discovery's story traveled back to our timeline. But what damage was left in her wake? Johnson and Beyer have the answers, and some of them are gruesome.
Georgiou has a cousin, Alexander (keeping with the Greek theme), and he declares himself Emperor. I doubt I'll surprise you by saying he's not a nice guy. But you know who is? Harry Mudd. (Yeah, that's right, Mirror U Rainn Wilson is in this one; keep track!) And when Mirror Burnham, long thought dead, needs a favor that's who she turns to. (On Risa, which is now a refugee planet. There's a lot going on.) It gets nuttier with the bridge crew. With no one clearly in command, Detmer and Owosekun have at it, and it ends up with Ariam (the chrome-blue cyborg character) taking control of the ISS Shenzhou with the goal of wreaking vengeance on behalf of all synthetic organisms.
I love Mirror Universe stories because anything is possible, so all I'll say is divert power to your forward shields when you get to the final pages of this one. It's all set 10 years before Captain Kirk took that fateful transporter ride through the ion storm orbiting the Halkan homeworld, so that's plenty of time to clean this all up.
Read these comics. Share them with your friends. Study them. Season two of Discovery is coming. You don't want to miss an opportunity to annoy your friends with strange backstory tidbits. And remember, this time it's canon!
Jordan Hoffman is the former host of Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast. He is also a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can be seen on Film.com, ScreenCrush and Badass Digest. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels.