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Star Trek: Crew #1

Posted: Saturday, March 21, 2009
By: Ray Tate

John Byrne
John Byrne, Mario Boon (c)
IDW Publishing
I am a Trekker. I've seen and liked every incarnation of Star Trek and I firmly do not believe that Bakula killed the franchise as George Takei's head amusedly remarks in Futurama. Enterprise was an important crux in Star Trek's massive and intricate continuity. Part of that continuity includes Captain Christopher Pike, Spock and the mysterious woman referred to only as Number One. These characters were historically the first. They existed before Captain James T. Kirk became the soul of the NCC-1701. Star Trek: Crew takes a long look at Enterprise's first first officer.

Majel Barrett portrayed Number One, and if you want my opinion, she was a better character than Christine Chapel could have ever hoped to be. Cool, intelligent, courageous and pure Starfleet, Number One was somebody that you hoped to see again. Sadly, the wish never came true. Her title and role on the ship however was handed down to Commander William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Number One did reappear in Vulcan's Glory an original Star Trek novel by D.C. Fontana that revisited the original crew of the starship Enterprise. In assessing John Byrne's take on Number One, I looked at whether or not his treatment was equal to or greater than that in the novel and in synch with the Number One on the show. I'm pleased to say that he crafts characterization for Number One that fits both criteria.

Byrne suggests Number One is a cool, intelligent, courageous and pure Starfleet human cadet. That obviously gibes with the broadcast Number One, and the characterization is as interesting as that found in the novel. Byrne clips Number One's dialogue to evoke the feeling of professionalism, and he also shows her lighter sides when for instance she interacts with the other cadets and expresses amazement at her new Constitution Class berth.

Some of the softness that I admired so much in Angel: Blood & Trenches gets lost in the inking, but that's to be expected. Byrne's trademark robotics however more than makes up for the loss, and he includes such details as "The Spock Scope," which will make fans grin. Number One does not bear that much of a resemblance to Majel Barrett. Perhaps, IDW could not secure the rights to her likeness and the story was done before her death. However Byrne varies her features enough to make the character standout.

Mario Boon's colors are masterful. Boon blends Enterprise gray for deck plating with the bright red trim of the original series. The blasts of phasers and alien weaponry glow as brightly as they did on the series, but I wish Boon would have added such a glow to Number One's eyes. One of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry's most striking features were eyes that appeared to shine with an inner light. The blue Boon chooses isn't riveting enough.

Byrne crafts a plot that's worthy to be the focus for Number One's first adventure. The mystery triggers intergalactic intrigue and the declaration of war by a familiar Star Trek foe. Byrne manipulates the panel layout to maximize suspense, and the numerous twists will keep any Star Trek fan rapt. Number One's characterization drives the finale in an unexpected direction, and as a result even the epilogue doesn't feel like an afterthought. Rather it seems a vital part of the story. Star Trek: Crew is a must for all fans of Number One and/or John Byrne.



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