Everybody loves Chekov, don’t they? Chekov is the loveable underdog of a helmsman and navigator that all true Trekkies would like to mother. So what better idea for a comic could there be than one showing how he first got his shot at the helm of the Enterprise, right? Right?! Er……
There is definitely something of a labour of love about New World photo novels, each and every frame of which is constructed out of images from stills from the original series of Star Trek (sometimes bolstered with a little tastefully applied CGI).
Penned by John Byrne, who has a fair list of comic credits to his name, you would expect a pretty solid story. However, what you get is not only a little bit flimsy, even as far as origin stories go, but it feels so constrained by the photo novel medium, telling a story that can only be reconstructed from scenes we’ve seen before, that it also feels as rigid and plywood as the original sets.
Perhaps the form only flags up flaws in the nature of the script but it is certainly true that the story is contained within the Enterprise itself, and only a handful of spaces within the starship come to that. During the story we see Chekov make the long, difficult journey from work detail in the engine rooms, to the helm on the bridge. A journey that can be conducted by a short lift ride.
There are some interesting(ish) ideas taken from physics to underpin the plot but the characters’ interactions are essentially ‘fight’ or ‘run away’, and the response from the crew is all about rising and falling energy levels and that “the circuits cannae take it cap’n”. Classic Star Trek, perhaps, but all pretty plywood.
The photo novel format also throws up some pretty lame images of characters we know and love, who look slightly drunk, or wonky or squinty, or even floating like a character in a 90s third person shooter, depending on the still they’ve been photoshopped out of or into.
The upside, however, is that your subconscious can’t help but fill in dramatic music, red alert and explosion sound effects and even rocking motion visuals, to the panels that you’re reading. A couple of times this reviewer found himself reacting to ‘shrrrooom’ sound effects as an unwanted intrusion because, based on the effect shown on the screen, he had already created the authentic mid-60s sound effect in his head.
Maybe a labour of love but pretty hard to love. Sorry.
STAR TREK: NEW VISIONS #10: MISTER CHEKOV / AUTHOR: JOHN BYRNE / PUBLISHER: IDW PUBLISHING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW