Review: Star Trek – Countdown to Darkness / Author: Mike Johnson / Artist: David Messina / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: Out Now
In the lead up to J.J Abram’s return to the USS Enterprise, we are offered the mini adventure Countdown to Darkness, which bridges the gap between the new film and the 2009 Star Trek film. It is brought to us by the creative team behind the previous movie tie-in release, Star Trek: Countdown.
Countdown to Darkness sees us join the Enterprise at a very distressing time for the crew; Spock continues to be haunted by his inability to save his mother, whilst Kirk is distressed by the isolation that comes with being a ship’s captain. Therefore, a suspicious wave of energy coming from Phadeus IV is enough to prompt an investigation and give Kirk some much needed ‘shore leave’. However, the transporter carrying our beloved captain and commander is cut off from the Enterprise and the stranded (and separated) team are soon caught up in a generations-old civil war between the Phadeans and the Shadows. However, the matter is complicated further when it is revealed that the Phadeans have an ally in Robert April, a former Enterprise captain previously thought dead. And it is April’s desire to help the Phadeans that prompts the sinister plot that he has for his former ship...
This is extremely enjoyable as a short adventure to whet the appetites of hungry Star Trek fans. What comes over strongly in this piece is the relationship between Kirk and Spock. We see a much more defiant Spock, whose human defiance blends with his Vulcan logic, and this allows us to see the authoritative Kirk come into conflict with Spock as a result. This is the start of a relationship that hopefully will continue into the latest film.
Meanwhile, the storyline is one that would have made Gene Roddenberry extremely proud. The story’s observation about the Shadows waging war because of their ethnic superiority to the Phadeans reinforces the vision of an idealistic future that Roddenberry had which makes our crew’s mission to stand up to such intolerance that touch more significant. This is developed further with the appearance of an imperialist foe with a vested interest in Phadeus (definitely one that films will love).
However, what Countdown to Darkness suffers from (like Star Trek in general at times) is that the supporting characters don’t get as much time as Spock and Kirk do. Instead, the introduction of smuggler Mudd is poorly handled and the writer could have got round April getting onto the Enterprise another way. However, Countdown to Darkness offers the reader enough to entice them to follow the story into the next film; Starburst certainly will.