Star Trek: Crew #1–5 by John Byrne
I did not know about the character known as ‘Number One’ in the Star Trek universe. Played by Majel Barrett in the original pilot episode, she was never referred to by name and was an intelligent, logical, calm first officer to Captain Pike. For various reasons (ranging from disapproval of the prominence of a women so high in command, to the executives at NBC being furious that a relatively unknown actress was playing such a major part just because she was having an affair with Gene Roddenberry), her character was discarded and her demeanour transposed on to Spock in the next pilot. (The things you can learn on the internet …)
This trade paperback collects five issues of the adventures of the Enterprise’s ‘most experienced officer’ and how she arrived at that position, from cadet to lieutenant (while refusing promotions along the way). The entertaining element is that, to remain the mystery of the character’s name, Byrne never allows anyone to speak it or identify her in any way, which is tricky to do and blatant at times; however, it’s a nice touch which shows that Byrne is obviously a fan and this is a love letter to ‘Number One’.
Set in the era of Star Trek: The Original Series, Byrne tells stories that are very much in the same style and vein as those original television episodes, particularly the ‘Ghost’ story in issue 3, and which also comply with the continuity – she eventually gets on to the Enterprise with Pike as Commander and Mr Spock as an ensign. The stories are rather charming and enjoyable, in an old-fashioned way; the lead character is a strong female in a traditional science-fiction setting, which is always a good thing, and they fit in well with the established stories without falling into the trap of having the lead character save the universe and make other stories redundant.
Byrne is a good storyteller – he’s had years of experience of both writing and art – but he’s not the super art talent he was. His style is clear and his composition easy to follow, but it’s lost some of the polish it once had. Therefore, it’s a strange choice to include the entirety of the original uncoloured pages for the third issue at the end of this collection. It’s a waste of space, it doesn’t deserve inclusion and it’s annoying when you think there is another issue at the end of the trade and discover that it’s something you’ve already read.