Art by David Messina with Claudia Balboni and Luca Lambert
IDW, out now
The prequels to Star Trek Into Darkness…
I reviewed Countdown to Darkness elsewhere on the site when it first came out, and a reread now hasn’t altered my opinion that much. It introduces a previous Enterprise captain to the Kelvinverse, and there are a few bits that link into the film, but, unlike the original Countdown that explained a lot of the first film’s backstory, it’s not that vital.
Khan, on the other hand, is a very interesting take on the story of Khan Noonien Singh, explaining how and why he changed from looking like Ricardo Montalban to Benedict Cumberbatch, and suggesting an alternate history of the 20th century that’s nothing like the one that we know. Later Star Trek series (and indeed Greg Cox’s novels for Pocket that Dayton Ward has been tying into with his recent books) have tried to fit the “real” world history in much more closely; Mike Johnson ignores all that, and takes the comments from Space Seed at face value. There’s no sub rosa takeover; this is very much an in your face power grab by the gifted ones.
That section would be fun on its own – although having the ship actually launch from Botany Bay seems to be taking literalism a little too far! – but it’s the portion that occurs in the Kelvinverse that makes this story really take off. Admiral Marcus’ actions are not the easiest in the world to make sense of, but Johnson manages it admirably. This is the true “prequel” to Into Darkness, and the art portrays the turmoil that “Harrison” goes through extremely well.
Verdict: Some major loopholes eliminated in the alternate history for Khan. 8/10