Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 04/14/2021

Every once in a while, it’s reassuring to know that what’s important to you sometimes shows up in the media you enjoy reading.

Simply put: the comics for the list this week definitely resonate with me for the things that I value in my life. Whether that’s family, principle, or simply for fandom’s sake, if these things show up on my watch list, then maybe there are some other things that matter to other people on this list as well?

With that said, let’s find out.

Image Comics

Nocterra #2

(Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, Tomeu Morey)

I’m a bit behind on my reading on this title as it showed up last week, to be honest. The first issue was a real treat to read, which is why it made my list when it first showed up in line with a post-apocalyptic theme I was exploring. But, the values of family and obligation showed up in this issue, so it was best to hold off and include it in a like-minded collection of titles.

I have to say this before I get into talking about the book in detail, but I have always loved Tony Daniel’s work. I have an entire shelf in my hardcover collection dedicated to Ex Machina and I have always loved his expressions and the body language he instills in his characters. In this book, that is not lacking. Of course, when you think about what’s involved in this story, there’s no doubt: he’s the guy.

You see, in short, this story is about honour.

I’m a bit of an anachronism in my real life. Heh … real life. I teach, but for me, teaching isn’t about specifically staying to the curriculum; it’s about telling my students about why the curriculum matters and the real-world implications that the unknowing of it matters. To me, that’s an honorable way to teach and it definitely paves the way for insightful conversations.

The problem? I think I’m in the minority and previous teachers in these students’ experiences don’t have that preference and … I face opposition.

The telling and discerning of truth is hard. But that’s the key in the appreciation of this issue. When Val Riggs makes her declaration at the of this issue as to who she is, why she has decided to take the path that she has chosen, well that did it for me. Regardless of the consequences, if you feel a thing to be right, then it has to be that way.

Scott Snyder has chosen to include the value of what’s right rather than what’s rewardable in this book. It’s a believable dynamic and in a world that’s gone to shade, then this is a book about heroes I can believe in, because it’s what I would have done. Why? Because especially in these trying times when a few individuals seem to capture the spotlight for doing the wrong thing, there are a multitude of others trying their best to follow the rules, keep to the right way and these are the people who will save our society. That value resonates strongly in this comic and it’s something I can get behind and appreciate.

Read this … you’ll see what I mean.

Marvel Comics

Guardians of the Galaxy #13

(Al Ewing, Juan Frigeri, Federico Blee)

There’s a strong stream of family in this issue. Family is impossible to ignore, even if you don’t particularly like the one you were born with! Family is what we make it, and the family we choose is just as strong as the family we were brought up with. I guess that’s a mid-shift that I’ve had to accommodate myself to, but even though I still feel bloodlines are important, you can’t ignore the bonds a person makes with the people they adopt.

I think that’s the case with the 21st century incarnation of the Guardians. It’s hard for comic-readers my age to reconcile the titles of 2021 with the titles they read back in the 70’s. In my mind, Yondu was the spiritual heart of the group that I first read. In this iteration, he’s gone and Gamora is no longer Adam Warlock’s sidekick but now Star-Lord’s love interest. The altered conditions of this team – including some characters who were completely unrelated to the Guardians I knew – are no longer within that continuity but something new I have to adjust to.

I guess that’s the same with the family you make.

In this issue, the Guardians respond to a galactic-level threat, which is what they’re supposed to, right? In the process show their relationships to each other that not only fit in with some of the historic dimensions of their past but also jibe in with the Marvel Cinematic Universe has presented. I get that the MCU has made the Guardians a more valuable commodity than they ever were in the 70’s or even in their 2000’s iteration, but I have to give Al Ewing great credit for creating a story that not only resonates the theme I was looking for this week but a story that manages to tread the line amongst all those demands.

This is a really difficult book to write and this issue not only included all of the dimensions this team should have, externally as well as internally, but also showed the talent and versatility of a writer who is able to include all of those perceptions. My hat is off to this writer for balancing the expectations of readers from a variety of backgrounds.

IDW Publishing

Canto: City of Giants #1

(David M. Booher, Sebastian Piriz)

For me, the theme that comes out in this title is always duty. But it’s a duty that’s realized out of a sense of what is right. I think the greatest virtue that someone can demonstrate is a recognition of what is right.

Drew Zucker’s art is really missing in this book.

I don’t mean to sleight Sebastian Piriz, but I know that this book for Drew and David is a labour of love. Zucker isn’t just an artist, he’s also a paramedic and during these COVID times, this guy not only gets my appreciation but my love. He’s putting himself out there in the worst of times and prior to the global pandemic, that would be still safe to say.

Piriz’s work is talented and enjoyable, but it’s not Zucker’s, and I hope that is appreciated in the way I mean it: out of respect and appreciation.

Still …

Regardless of what the threat is, Canto chooses to face danger on behalf of his friends without hesitation or even questioning it in advance. That type of dedication and duty is rare these days, even amongst friends. It’s the absolute definition of pure heroism and something that I can’t help but notice … and it endears this little hero to me even more.

Star Trek: Year Five #20

(Brandon Easton, Silvia Califano, DC Alonso, Neil Uyetake, Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly)

I think Star Trek has been such an essential part of my life that it has evolved to more than just fandom – it’s become something that people identify with me. My last name notwithstanding (oh, and the fact that my name actually COULD have been James T. Kirk – thanks, Dad), when I meet people, they immediately associate me with this franchise. It’s how I’ve grown up.

I think it must be that way for Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly who are the showrunners for this book as well. It’s actually more difficult to write a story set within an existing franchise than it is to develop your own universe, well, at least in my opinion. There are character expectations, historical continuity, and of course, the world that people always seem to misunderstand: canon. To juggle all these balls in the air, one needs a sense of love for the franchise.

The premise for this book is that the Enterprise is returning back to earth, concluding its five-year mission. In this issue, the Tholian passenger the Enterprise has rescued has detected unusual disruptions in the time-space continuum, perceiving patterns undetectable to the human eye. The source of these patterns emanates from Spock’s home-world of Vulcan. Investigating, the Enterprise sends down a landing party to learn more of the anomaly. A sudden surge of energy occurs and in the aftermath of the burst, the landing party sees that Spock is nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, Spock wakes up and is unable to find his fellow officers. After some time, he encounters Vulcans in attire from another age and realizes he has been thrown back in time.

… and that’s about all I want to tell you without giving more away of Brandon Easton’s wonderfully entertaining story.

Time travel is a typical Star Trek trope, but it’s one that is always entertaining to Trekkies and one that fans will never get tired of. This is how I know that Easton, Lanzing and Kelly get Star Trek. Presenting a story that fans will always enjoy shows that they have their finger on the pulse of this franchise.

The sad thing is that this book will be ending in June. We have three or four more issues to go and then it’s over. To be honest, I’m really disappointed in this as I think that this team has managed to make this one of the most relevant books outside of CBS by inserting it into a time period in the continuum that makes sense. We aren’t reading episodic or independent stories that could happen at any point in the timeline in this series but one that is tailor-cut to not only relate to the original show but also makes that period of Star Trek approachable to 21st century fans.

In fact, this book might be able to serve as a “Rosetta Stone” of sorts for contemporary and younger fans to get a better appreciation for some of the 1960’s vibes in TOS, as I know that has been an issue for those in a different generation.

Silvia Califano is a long-time Star Trek comic artist for IDW. As a long-time Star Trek comic reader, I’m not only very familiar with her work but also a big fan of it. You need a veteran Trek artist to present the characters and familiar ideas in these stories in a way that isn’t just acceptable but has to welcomed by fans. Califano is in the ranks of those artists who I know love Star Trek and their work represents that joy.

I have to declare Star Trek: Year Five #20 to be my pick of the week. It isn’t just a comic book about a fandom I love, but a shared extension of my love expressed by creators who have the same love. When what you love is also echoed by others, connections happen. The world becomes a smaller place and in short, one with a little more happiness in it.

Until next week.

Pick of the Week – Star Trek: Year Five #20 



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About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.