Yes! Finally a Star Trek graphic novel that combines an interesting, well-thought-out story with really terrific art wherein familiar characters actually look like the characters we readers know! It helps that this book is a graphic novel adaptation of a much-loved Star Trek episode, “City on the Edge of Forever,” by noted author Harlan Ellison.
So why put out a graphic novel of something that’s already in visual form? Because, as the cover boasts, this is based on the original screenplay, and not the episode as filmed and aired.
Harlan Ellison is no small voice in the sf/comics genre and he’s boasted many times how much better his original version was than the studio-rewritten-and-filmed version. While the script as Harlan wrote (and rewrote) it has been published before, reading a teleplay can be difficult for those who aren’t familiar with doing so. Seeing it as a graphic novel is possibly the only way we will ever see this particular version of the teleplay, visually.
First, I should note that although the cover of the book states it’s “the original teleplay,” it’s actually the original revised teleplay — see the published book, or Google it.
I liked the story. I am not convinced it’s any better or worse than the episode as aired. There are some clear differences. Some of the aspects I liked more (the appearance of the Guardians), but some, such as Spock’s demeanor toward his captain, I liked much less.
Credited authors Scott and David Tipton have done a fine job of converting the teleplay into a graphic novel, even though it is still Ellison’s story.
J.K. Woodward’s art is tremendous. How often did I stop and stare at a page just to admire the way Woodward painted a panel or built a page? Let me see … how many pages are there? 128? Then I did this 128 times!
Each page appears to be painted with acrylics, and Woodward manages to be consistent with his characters’ appearances AND actually makes them resemble the characters on which they are based! This seems to be a much more difficult task than you might think, based on previous comic/graphic novel incarnations! I actually went back to look over the book again, just to take a look at how Woodward put his work together. Often there was a slight monochromatic appearance to the panels, but it works, and it works well!
Whether it was the Tiptons’ idea, or Woodward’s (or even Ellison’s) I don’t know, but I greatly appreciated all the little nods to Harlan Ellison. I don’t want to give them away, they are like little Easter Eggs to hunt for, but one of the more obvious ones is the window of a shop that sells “Strange Wine.” And because not everyone will know what Harlan Ellison looks like, it was a rather nice tribute to see Harlan himself play a small, but important role in the visual story.
I’d really love to see these authors and artist work together again on another Star Trek story … whether it’s an adaptation of an early draft, or an unproduced draft (Theodore Sturgeon had been selling his unproduced script on Amazon!), or something entirely new, this combination really worked for me.
Looking for a good book? Fans of well-written and drawn graphic novels, as well as Star Trek fans should love this book.
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Star Trek: City on the Edge of Forever
authors: Harlan Ellsion, Scott Tipton, David Tipton
artist: J.K. Woodward
publisher: IDW Publishing
hardcover, 128 pages