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Star Trek: The Manga

Shinsei Shinsei by various

Is it manga if it calls itself ‘Japanese-style sequential art’? I don’t know, but I was sufficiently intrigued to have a look. One thing I found difficult in the reading was the different fonts used for no reason, the different sizes used to fit the too-small word balloon – it makes you appreciate the usually unrated skill of a good letterer.

‘Side Effects’ is a lot of shouting and artwork with Japanese calligraphy. It’s made worse by the fact that it is an attempt to be an ‘origin’ story for the Borg queen.

‘Anything But Alone’ feels like an old Star Trek story you’ve seen before, but updated with reference to nano-technology, with a surviving member of a colony recreating the rest of them from his memories, to obviously catastrophic results.

‘’Til Death’ (written by Mike W Barr) is hard to read due to the very idealized art – if somebody hadn’t called him Captain, I wouldn’t have recognised Kirk, and Uhura is drawn as white (so I’m guessing the artist wasn’t a Star Trek fan). Barr plays with his usual idea of the male/female divide (due to the presence of sarcophagi on the ship, men and women can’t get on, so the crews are split up, leading to an almost civil war when the sarcophagi open to reveal a man and woman who say they will lead each of the fractions) but it’s all rather silly.

‘Oban’ has very cute art indeed, but again with hardly any similarity to the actual actors. Oban is a cute lizard recreated by one planet of war to promote peace, which is being transported by Enterprise – Oban’s pheromones make the crew happy. They are also transporting the Weave, which is the offering of the other planet – this turns out to be a weapon that changes Oban into a violent creature, which they have to eventually kill.

‘Orphans’ is the final tale, which has even cuter art, but has some inherent silliness – why would an alien race flip the bird to the Enterprise? Basically, this is kids in giant robots in space being taught the power of love. That’s just embarrassing …

There’s also a prose story to round things out, which sort of defeats the point of a manga Star Trek if you ask me. This is a very strange collection, and it doesn’t make me want to see anymore, even if Wil Wheaton writes a story in the next one.

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