Thursday, November 19, 2009

Comics Review : Star Trek The Next Generation Ghosts Issue 1

The covers: Joe Corroney does a nice generic cover that would fit any comic or novel featuring the Next Gen crew. The likenesses of the characters is good (as it always is), and so is the coloring, which I assume Joe did as well. The R(etailer) I(ncentive) Virgin Cover is the same as the regular cover sans all the wordage at the top. Both covers are very good, which begs the question why hasn't IDW held down Joe Corroney for the interiors of, at least, a one-shot? Overall grade: both covers A

The story:
I'm willing to bet (but unwilling to count) that there is more dialogue in this comic than any other Trek IDW has produced. Zander Cannon's story begins with the Enterprise-D (why not the E?) going to Allios IV after intercepting a distress signal. One ruling half of the planet, the Juulets, have been petitioning the Federation for eleven years for entrance, though they have been denied because their planet is not unified. An away team beams to the hurt Juulet ship and find a delirious researcher, without one arm and one leg, and an interesting chest wound. Following this man's rescue is a drawn out six page diplomacy scene where Juulet's rival nation Dorossh appears. There is a nice technobable scene (Page 19) used to explain a plot point, and by Pages 21 and 22 the title of this miniseries comes to fruition. The overall story is okay: this is a set up issue, putting all the pieces on the board before they can be played. The researcher storyline is the most interesting, but it's only nine pages of the book. The remainder you can write yourself if you're vaguely familiar with The Next Gen: Riker is impatient (Page 2), Picard is diplomatic (Page 2), Troi feels overpowering emotion (Page 5--but not addressed until Page 16!), and Geordi solves a problem with 24th century science (Page 19). All that was missing was Data commenting on humanity and Worf jumping over his console. I was glad to see Crusher be the lead in the researcher arc, as she and Geordi were the most shortchanged characters in the seven year run of the series, IMHO. I'm really mixed by the story so far. I know it's only Issue 1, the researcher story was good, but a too long diplomatic council scene and character traits I've seen before. Overall grade: C-

The art:
Javier Aranda is almost a good artist. Page 1 has an excellent Enterprise-D space shot, but below it has a wet hair Troi (a common problem throughout the book) and a funky part in Riker's hair. His Picard is good on this page. The natives of Allios IV are okay looking, with head and chin extensions that remind me of Westmore make-up. However, look at the three versions of Riker on Page 2: panel one, he's put on some facial weight; panel two, he's lost the weight but his hair line has receeded; panel six, the hair line is corrected but the eyebrows have really lengthened. Seen enough? Cheek shading, to show depth in faces, goes horribly awry on Picard on Page 4 (panel two) and Page 5 (panel four)--I thought he had a hole in his face! Data and Geordi look decent, but the other characters go from acceptable to horrible (Page 9, panel six being the greatest offense). So, Javier is not consistent with his characters. His backgrounds, though, are top notch. On the Enterprise or in alien environments he is impressive: Page 19 reminded me of the Heavy Metal movie (the original one). Adding to this resemblance were the uniforms of the Dorosshians. At first I didn't like the look, but going back they work. Of interest to note is the use of nine panel pages. I don't know if this is Javier's choice or Zander's decree. This layout can be tricky because of the small space allowed for art and dialogue. I've seen it used brilliantly (by Keith Giffen in Legion of the Super-Heroes) but here it seems some of these pages are drowning in dialogue (Page 9 comes to mind; the dialogue balloons are bigger than the characters--panel four would cover all of the characters in this shot). I'd like to see this layout continue, but Javier's got to rework the focus put in each panel. There's some good in Aranda's work, but it's so inconsistent. Overall grade: C-

The inks:
How much of my problems with the art are in the pencils or the inks of German Torres-Ruiz, I don't know. Did German overink the close-ups, or was he going along with what Javier did? I don't know, so I can't grade his work higher or lower than the art. Overall grade: C-

The colors: John Hunt has a lot to do with all the characters you expect, plus the aliens, and all of those detailed backgrounds. Excellent job. Overall grade: A

The letters:
Robbie Robbins had a TON of work to do with the dialogue (plus three sound effects). Very good. Overall grade: A

The final line:
It's only Issue 1 and it's a mixed bag. I liked half the story and, maybe, half the art. I hope--I want--it to get better. Overall grade: C-