Monday, May 14, 2018

Longbox Junk - Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Modala Imperative

Although this seems to have been advertised as a crossover mini between the original Star Trek crew and The Next Generation celebrating Star Trek's 25th anniversary, it's really more like two sort of barely-connected 4 issue mini's.

They share a setting (the planet Modala) and 3 characters (Spock, McCoy, and Troyka) and the Next Generation half answers a question left hanging in the first half (where did the government get the advanced weapons it used to oppress the population).

So the first half was pretty good, with great writing and. . .not so great art.
How does the second half of the story fare?  Read on!

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION  
THE MODALA IMPERATIVE 
DC (1991)
SCRIPTS: Peter David
PENCILS: Pablo Marcos
COVERS: Adam Hughes

ISSUE ONE
IN MEMORY YET GREEN. . .

Oops. . .I discovered I don't have issue #1 of this series.
I have two copies of issue #2.

The solicit for the first issue reads:

The Enterprise is invited to represent the Federation at the 100th anniversary of Modala's freedom. Going with the Enterprise to Modala is Admiral McCoy. En route they are joined by Spock. On Modala, social unrest accompanies the preparations for celebration.

But trust me, folks. . .if it's as bad as the other 3, I was better off not reading it anyway.

Sorry, folks.  I THOUGHT I had this whole series.  Moving along!

ISSUE TWO
LIES AND LEGENDS

Admiral McCoy and Ambassador Spock meet again after many years, and they become acquainted with the crew of The Enterprise as they travel to Modala for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of their freedom from the oppressive government that once ruled them (as seen in Star Trek: The Modala Imperative, Pts. 1-4).

Captain Picard, Counselor Troi, McCoy and Spock beam to Modala for the celebration while Riker, in command of The Enterprise, speeds to the rescue of a cargo ship in distress. The festivities on Modala are interrupted by a Ferengi attack. Their leader, Daimon Tran, claims ownership of the planet because of a deal supposedly made 100 years prior.

Overall. . .this was pretty bad.

In the first part of "The Modala Imperative" with the original crew, the writing was the high point of the story. I could almost hear the voices of the actors as I read. Here, I don't get anywhere close to that. The dialogue seems stilted and expository.

To make it worse, the story basically copies the first half. . .with an away team in danger while The Enterprise is captained by a substitute.

And then there's the art. GOD, THE ART! It's the same artist that worked on the first half of the story. His art was barely competent there, but definitely takes a step down in this issue. I really didn't think he could get any worse. . .I was wrong.

All in all, this issue is a barely-readable piece of crap. Not good.

ISSUE THREE
PRIOR CLAIM


The Ferengi raise havoc as they begin taking over Modala. Admiral McCoy and Counselor Troi are captured in the initial attack, but Ambassador Spock, Captain Picard, and the Modalan leader, Stroyka, escape.

The Enterprise confirms that the attack on a Federation freighter was meant to divert them and makes best speed back to Modala.

A failed rescue attempt for Troi and McCoy by Picard and Spock winds up with everyone captives of the Ferengi.

Once again, this issue is barely readable.

The writing fails to capture the voice, personality, or essence of the characters. The situation is basically a copy of the first half of the story, and the Ferengi are written as early season ST: TNG Ferengi. . .brutal, snarling, and primitive instead of the sly, intelligent schemers of later seasons and Deep Space 9. That's probably not the writer's fault, but the proto-Ferengi just add a cherry on top of the crap sundae.

And if anything, the art in this issue is WORSE than in the last. One wonders if this artist got ANY feedback on his work at all, or if they were just letting him phone it in because they knew if they slapped a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" label on anything in 1991, it wouldn't matter if it was bad or good, people would buy it.

Awful.  Just awful.

ISSUE FOUR
GAME, SET AND MATCH!


With Ambassador Spock's help, Counselor Troi and Admiral McCoy escape. To prevent the execution of Modala's leaders, Captain Picard challenges Daimon Tran, with Modala and the Enterprise as the stakes.

Picard defeats Tran in mental combat with Spock's help. Riker and The Enterprise arrive to send the Ferengi on their way.

It's over. Thank God, it's over.

What can I say about this issue that I haven't already said about the previous ones?

The writing remains bland, copying the basic outline of the first part of this half-assed "crossover" while completely failing to capture the personalities or voices of the Next Generation crew.

The art is terrible and distracting from whatever readability might be found in the story. The last few pages in particular look extremely rushed, like the artist finally just said F@#K it.

Overall, as a Star Trek fan, I'm sort of embarrassed that I even own this piece of crap.

CONCLUSION
As a huge fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the only conclusion I can come to for this steaming pile of crap is that I would have been better off not reading it at all.  It spits in the face of those who love Star Trek.  It's poorly-written, fails to capture the voice or personalities of the characters, and the art is bad to the point of distraction.

Where the first half of The Modala Imperative (featuring the original Enterprise crew) at least made an ATTEMPT to be good, and halfway succeeded with decent writing, this half just seems like a lazy, sloppy, cash grab meant to hook fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation while it was still a hot show on T.V.

Like most comic collectors, I cringe when thinking of just throwing away a comic book.  This series is the FIRST time I've ever felt like tossing a perfectly good comic in the trash can.  It's THAT bad.

Trust me. . .unless you are an obsessive Star Trek completionist, stay away.

Up Next. . .

I feel the need to rinse the taste of bad Star Trek out of my mouth with some nice, minty Star Wars.  Dark Horse's 6 issue Star Wars: Dark Empire II mini.

Be there or be square!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Longbox Junk - Star Trek: The Modala Imperative

As a card-carrying nerd, one is expected to take part in the eternal debate:  Star Wars or Star Trek?

So here's where I stand on it. . .

I DO love Star Wars.  I probably love Star Wars more than I ever loved my first wife.  But as much as I love Star Wars, I ALWAYS come back to Star Trek.  There's just so much MORE Star Trek out there to enjoy.  Star Trek has everything you could ever want. . .action, adventure, comedy, drama, high art and pure friggin' cheese.  

Even better than Star Wars is that Star Trek doesn't just follow the same cast of characters. You can switch it up, watch your favorites and ignore the rest, leading to further debate. . .Spock or Data? Kirk or Picard? Enterprise or Deep Space 9?

But as much as I love Star Trek, I've never really gotten into the comic books for some reason.  I guess it's because (like I said above) there's just SO much Star Trek out there already, I've never felt the need to supplement. . .unlike Star Wars comics, which I absolutely read a TON of because back in the day, new Star Wars was few and far between.

ANYWAY. . .

I picked up a longbox full of Star Trek comics a month or so back at auction.  This was the only complete mini-series in the pile, so let's take a look!

STAR TREK
THE MODALA IMPERATIVE

DC (1991)
SCRIPTS: Michael Jan Friedman
PENCILS: Pablo Marcos
COVERS: Adam Hughes

ISSUE 1
A LITTLE SEASONING

First, let's take a look at the best thing about this issue. . .the outstanding cover!  I'll confess I've always had a bit of a "thing" for Uhura. . .but she never looked like THAT on T.V.! Nicely done Adam Hughes.  VERY nicely done.

ANYWAY. . .

Captain Kirk and new Enterprise crew member, Ensign Chekov, beam down to the planet Modala to determine if they are ready for an invitation to join The Federation. 

They discover that the planet is under the heel of a totalitarian government armed with off-world high technology weapons they shouldn't have. Before they can investigate further, they are caught up in a terrorist attack and taken prisoner by government forces mistaking them for rebels. 

This first issue is a bit of a mixed bag. Generally, it's pretty good. The story so far is pretty simple. . .classic Star Trek "Away Team Mission Gone Wrong" setup.

The writing is spot on and captures the flavor of classic Star Trek and the personality and dialogue of the original series crew very nicely.

Unfortunately, the art is disappointing. Although the artist captures the essence of the characters, he doesn't do very well with their likenesses. . .a big minus in a licensed property. Also, some of the art seems rushed and unfinished, especially when off the Enterprise and on the planet Modala.

Overall, I really liked the spot on writing, but the art was barely tolerable in places, so taking the good with the bad, this book gets an average grade.


ISSUE 2
TOOLS OF TYRANNY

After communication is lost with Captain Kirk and Ensign Chekov, Spock and Doctor McCoy beam down to Modala to investigate, and are immediately put on the run from government forces and forced into hiding to avoid capture.

In prison, Kirk and Chekov meet the leaders of the Modala resistance. Kirk convinces them that violence is not the only way to wage a revolution. 

Let's start with the cover. A bit disappointing after the stellar (heh) first issue. Spock and The Enterprise are great, but Kirk has a weird "O RLY?" look on his face and Chekov looks like a 16 year old kid. Not good. . .

The writing remains spot on. As I read the dialogue, I could almost hear the voices of the actors saying the lines. Very nicely done.

Unfortunately, the art is not only still dodgy, but actually takes a step down in quality. This whole issue seems rushed and in places unfinished. On page 13 there is a scene where Spock and McCoy are watching government troops forcing citizens to clean up the debris from the rebel bomb attack last issue. . .and nobody has a face. That's sloppy and definitely no bueno.

Overall, I'm really liking the writing on this series. 

On the other hand, the art is dragging it down in a big way.

ISSUE 3
THE PRICE OF FREEDOM

In prison, Kirk is offered a chance to lead the Resistance, but he turns it down and suggests that Stroyka lead them instead. Once matters of leadership are settled, the prisoners organize a breakout.

Elsewhere, Spock and McCoy follow a lead that brings them to the prison. Unfortunately, while they are scouting it, Kirk and the Resistance stage their breakout and Spock and McCoy are captured by government forces as they sweep for escaped prisoners.

Overall, this issue definitely sags. The cover is probably the worst of the bunch. Once again, Chekov looks like a 16 year old kid. Come to think of it, the interior artist ALSO draws him very young. I wonder if either artist had any good photo reference to work from. Strange. . .it's a real person with photographs of him. Kirk looks like a creeper you don't want your sister meeting at a bar.

ANYWAY. . .

Like I said, this third issue definitely sags quite a bit. The dialogue is still remarkably authentic to the characters, but the story itself takes a turn for the worse as the two separate away teams swap places, with Kirk and Chekov escaping prison and Spock and McCoy being taken prisoner. And to be honest, it's all a little predictable and boring, for all the action in this issue.

The art also remains extremely dodgy. As I mentioned above, Chekov looks like a high school kid and this time around the artist has a really hard time with Scotty's face (He's in charge of the Enterprise while the planetside shenanigans go on). 

All in all, what SHOULD be an exciting setup for the final issue turns out to be the blandest part of the story. A damn shame.


ISSUE 4
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

In this final issue, Kirk and Chekov enlist the Modala Resistance fighters to help them free Spock and McCoy, who are going to be publicly executed.

As the rebels and government forces clash, the Enterprise crew beam to safety and decide that Modala isn't quite ready to join the Federation. 

And here we are at the big finish!

Overall, it's a pretty good wrap up to the series. Chekov gets a moment to shine, inspiring the rebels (really, shaming them would be a better description) to help free Spock and McCoy when Captain Kirk fails in his attempt to motivate them.

The scenes of everyone back on board the Enterprise are very nicely done, and once again, I have to say that the writer does a remarkable job of capturing the voices and personalities of the characters.

Unfortunately, the art continues to disappoint. This artist is barely passable during static conversation scenes, but is not able to carry action scenes at all. What should be exciting and explosive is barely tolerable in his hands. 

All in all, there are some great character moments in this issue on the writing side of things, and the story is wrapped up very nicely. On the other hand, the art once again drags down what should be great into "pretty good" territory.


CONCLUSION

This mini-series was sort of a schizoprenic reading experience.  On the one hand, the writer has a remarkable knack for capturing the voices of the original series T.V. cast on paper.  The tone, the dialogue, the pacing is all spot on.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I could almost HEAR the actors speaking as I read.

On the other hand.  The art was barely passable during static scenes of conversation and was almost completely incapable of carrying action scenes.  Except for some nice covers (issue #1 made me look at Uhura in a whole new way) the art really dragged down what COULD have been a great mini.

Up next. . .

The story continues 100 years later. . .Star Trek: The Next Generation-style!

Be there or be square.