Gold Key was an American company that produced a lot of television tie-in books back in the day, and their Star Trek run is infamous for taking many liberties with the series upon which it is based. Initial artists and writers for the book famously had never seen an episode of the television show, instead being forced to rely on a basic series synopsis and still photographs. This is very evident when seeing the material for the first time: The interior of the mighty Enterprise is more like a submarine, the uniforms are baggy & miscoloured and the ship regularly enters the atmosphere of planets and shoots flames from it's nacelles! Likenesses of the actors is hit & miss (with Scotty suffering some particularly egregious errors) and Spock is often seen exclaiming various bizarre phrases such as "great zounds!!". As the series progressed, the comic fell more into line with it's inspiration. The bizarre "teleportation chamber" disappeared, the likenesses improved (considerably) and the nacelles flamed no more and yet it is these earlier, outlandish adventures that appeal to me the most. Maybe it's because they hail from an era when Paramount/CBS weren't anal about continuity or obsessesed with controlling every aspect of their property; the comics were allowed to take flights of imaginative fancy that, while absurd on many levels, were exciting and engaging.
It is such a pity IDW seems to have stalled these releases at volume five. That's the second time I've had my attempt to collect these comics stymied (the first time, Checker ceased pulication after six volumes). As the original issues are so expensive now, I may never see the rest of the series, but in the meantime we have these early volumes to enjoy.
Makes me feel like I'm 8 years old again, getting the old annuals for Xmas. The stories are pretty basic, along with the art, but still, it has a certain resonance that captures the essence (if not the accuracy) of classic trek.
This is a great way to get your hands on the first ever comics of the original Star Trek crew. To buy original copies of this hard to find series is now becoming an expensive affair, so to own them all in such a beautifully presented edition will be wonderful. Volume 1 contains the first 6 issues, with 178 numbered pages.
This hardback volume contains sharp, popping colours on glossy pages, including the full page photo covers and pin ups. Each issue usually contains two parts of one larger story.
The stories contained in each issue are:
Issue 1 The Planet Of No Return (Part I) The Planet Of No Return (Part II) "It was the strangest civilisation in all the known universe -- more awesome than the mind of man could conceive! And the expedition team from the USS Enterprise soon regretted their decision to explore K-G..."
Issue 2 The Devil's Isle Of Space (Part I) The Secret Of... Execution Asteroid! (Part II) "Mr. Spock was powerless to help as Captain Kirk and his exploration team battled for their very lives on a mysterious asteroid. And Mr. Spock would soon uncover the asteroid's terrifying secret, a secret which would challenge him with an impossible choice : either risk the star ship Enterprise and all her personnel, or abandon his captain to certain death!"
Issue 3 The Invasion Of The City Builders (Part I) The Bridge To Catastrophe (Part II) "On a mystery planet at the edge of a distant galaxy the crew of the Enterprise must match wits with mammoth machines... Giants of technical wizardry that stride across the terrain... Slowing, choking it to death with super cities!"
Issue 4 : The Peril Of Planet Quick Change Part I - The Creatures Of Light Part II - The Sinister Guest "It was a planet in deep space that even the galaxy-wise crew of the Enterprise had never dreamed of -- a planet that convulsed, sprouted foliage, mountains and water like a living thing! And only Mr. Spock could hope to save this alien globe that had the space pioneers trapped upon it!"
Issue 5 The Ghost Planet (Part I) The Ghost Planet (Part II) "Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock save a planet from extinction, but are doomed by its war-mad leaders!"
Issue 6 - When Planets Collide (Full Comic) "There was a sudden death in space -- two planets on a collision course! And only the crew of the star ship Enterprise could prevent such a cataclysmic meeting... if they themselves could survive!"
These are old school stories, and I love them. If I had one critique, it would be that they focus on Mr. Spock more than the other characters, but since he's a great character, it doesn't hinder the stories in any way. I'd say these are a collection of highly enjoyable, vintage comics. As long as you don't expect flashy, lifelike illustrations and colouring (because the colouring methods were limited when these were originally made) you should get a real kick out of them. It looks excellent as a collectable too, in a sturdy hardback. Keep these volumes coming please, IDW! :-)